Norwich: Cobbles and coffee, two sorts of tea room, cakes & cathedrals

There should be a pilgrimage to Norwich for coffee lovers and tea enthusiasts. We managed four venues, but neglected as many which are possibly just as good. Another place we’ll just have to come back to one day soon.

We couldn’t resist Cleverdicks Coffee to start the day. Price doesn’t usually figure in our reviews, but it’s hard not to notice that two cappuccinos and a home-baked flapjack came to the grand total of £3.50. And the coffee was not bad at all.

The wall painting at Cleverdicks Coffee Shop in Norwich

I love the idea behind this place. If you run a hair salon, you probably serve your customers coffee or tea anyway, so if you have redundant space, taken up just by a reception area, why not convert it into a bona fide coffee shop, especially if you’re fond of a good brew yourself?

Home-made flapjacks at Cleverdicks in Norwich

It was great to meet Chris – owner and hairdresser, as well as coffee and football lover – and Chloe, who made the brew. Put us in a good mood for the rest of our quest.

When there are two cathedrals in town, we allow ourselves two coffees and two teas (no, this did not extend to four in Glasgow, or even three in Edinburgh).

And wow, were we glad we went to Window Coffee in Wensum Street. Hayley, who runs this place, was the UK’s top woman barista in 2011, and judging by the steady stream of regulars who flowed through this tiny coffee shop while we were there, the rest of Norwich knows it too.

Window Coffee House in Norwich

A wonderful cup of coffee and some of the nicest home-baked pastries I have seen in a while. I was tempted by the Anzac biscuits, but couldn’t resist the bakewell tart, even though we’re nowhere near either Australia or Derbyshire…

Cappuccino at The Window Coffee shop in Norwich

I should wax lyrical about the coffee, but I’m not one to waffle on about the background notes like some wine buff. Let’s just say this was the best coffee I’d tasted for a while, and it didn’t surprise me that Hayley had done so well at the Barista Champs last year.

Will she make it back to Melbourne (where she first got hooked into coffee) for the World Champs in 2013?

Norwich Cathedral is pretty impressive, with stories going back as far as Ann Boleyn’s great grandfather and other connections taking them to Norwich City football club today. A real cathedral of the community.

Norwich Cathedral

But we were looking for tea once the lunchtime pangs began…

The Tea House is in a great location, just off the extraordinary cobbled and winding street of Elm Hill. And it’s run by two guys who are brothers-in-law, so bucking the trend of modern (but often retro) tea rooms being owned by chic young women.

Outside the Tea House in Norwich

Chris and Peter make a great team (and a pretty good tea, too). Excellent people skills combine with a passion for quality tea to make this our top tea tip in Norwich.

Home-baked cake at The Tea House in Norwich

It does make a difference when people behind the bar give you a genuine welcome and have time to talk; and it really is nice to be offered the chance to sniff the tea leaves in a pot before making a decision on which tea to have. The nose is more important than the notes, any day!

The Catholic Cathedral in Norwich is the UK’s second biggest Catholic church (we assume behind Westminster, but they didn’t say). And unlike many Catholic cathedrals, which tend to focus almost exclusively on the religious side of things, Norwich RC Cathedral did tell a few tales.

Norwich RC Cathedral

The cathedral tower was used as a turning point for bomber pilots returning from raids on Germany in the War; and the new eco-heating system has caused a few local scares, with its trail of smoke rising out of the west pinnacle…

And so to afternoon tea.

For this, we had to try Biddy’s Tea Room in Lower Goat Lane. Very stylish, in that chic-young-women way we have seen growing across the country.

Lavender scone with cream tea at Biddy's in Norwich

Great décor, all vintage and evocative of wartime Britain, lovely scones (chose the lavender scone, served with lemon curd and clotted cream) and a nice big pot of lapsang (though beware if you’re a stickler for loose-leaf: you need to ask which teas are and you MIGHT have to have it downstairs, though actually the lounge area looked rather nice, so I wouldn’t have minded).

Downstairs at Biddy's in Norwich

Ah, Norwich. I never knew you had so much to offer. Or so much history. One day is not enough. And there are lots more places to try for a cuppa and cake.

Video: Norwich: Cobbles & Coffee + two types of tea room

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