Norwich: Marsh Harrier
08:40 22 November 2011
A long-time favourite for gatherings of friends, LINDA BARRINGTON-SMITH ventured back to The Marsh Harrier with just her husband to sample the Friday fish specials.
Most months find us dining at the Marsh Harrier in Norwich with a group of friends, so when my husband and I ventured out as a twosome to try one of their Fish Friday nights recently, we wondered whether it would feel a little strange at first. But, thanks to the cosy warm atmosphere of the venue and its friendly staff, it didn’t.
The Marsh Harrier was originally known as The King of Prussia in 1840, when it was a small cafe with a tea garden. The building was later run as an inn until the Great War broke out in 1914, when its name was changed to the George IV.
Several years ago, the name changed again to Cactus Jack before a £1m refurbishment saw it become the Marsh Harrier — a name which reflects its rural surroundings, being situated on the edge of the countryside, and proximity to the River Yare.
The Marsh Harrier is a very popular pub and restaurant, with lots of character and is always packed with diners. The Fish Fridays get booked up very quickly, so we made sure by making our reservation two weeks earlier.
As well as the special fish menu, we could have chosen from the restaurant’s main menu. But at £15 for two courses, including a 175ml glass of Sauvignon Blanc or Merlot — there was no competition.
And after all, we were there for the Fish Friday!
The two courses consist of either a starter or dessert plus the main dish. From the choice of three starters, my husband had the beer battered mushrooms with garlic and parsley dip and rocket garnish, while I went for the Atlantic prawn cocktail with crisp iceberg lettuce, Marie-Rose sauce and brown bread and butter. Both starters were of good proportions and tasted excellent.
From the choice of four mains I enjoyed the grilled tuna steak, seared and served on a warm Israeli couscous, olive, tomato and watercress salad. My husband savoured the sole and smoked salmon roulade served on buttered wilted spinach, samphire and baby potatoes with white wine and dill cream.
Beautifully presented, both dishes were divine and the combination of delicate flavours were absolutely mouth-watering. Just thinking about them has set our taste buds working overtime!
Again proportions were very good and we had decided against adding on a dessert, available at extra cost, until Laura, who had served us, asked if we would like to order one from either the three choices on the Fish Friday menu or from the dessert board.
Our good intentions soon disappeared and we succumbed to temptation when Laura recommended trying the apple, pear and sultana crumble served with ice-cream and custard between us. It was gorgeous, but unfortunately our eyes turned out to be bigger than our stomachs and we had to leave some!
In our time, we have been fortunate to have eaten in some of the best restaurants in this country and abroad but, quite honestly, found our meal at the Marsh Harrier to be just as good and couldn’t fault it in any way.
So, having finally sampled one of their Fish Friday nights, and with the menu changing weekly, we will definitely be going along again very soon!
THE MARSH HARRIER
Opening times: Mon-Sat 12 noon to 11pm; Sun 12 noon to 10.30pm.
Prices: Starters from £3, mains from £7.25. Fish Fridays, two courses including wine £15. Festive three course menu £17.95 daily from December 1-30 (excluding December 25-26).
Vegetarian options: Plenty
Wheelchair access: Wide entrance doors plus disabled parking spaces.