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t’s not often you get invited to Lust and Liquor – not without really getting to know her, and buying her a drink, anyway. Once I’d


established that this was the name of a new restaurant in town, and not a dating instruction, I started working up an appetite. Having paid his dues in the chain industry, Darren now turn over the open sign on his own venture, and a good looking little joint it is too. Describing itself as a “meat-sweat inducing BBQ smokehouse”, it adds itself to the growing number of food smokers in town. You can just as easily get beef brisket in Norwich as Austin, Texas now - Lust & Liquor would have to bring something extra to the party to compete.


ATMOSPHERE I pitched up at 7:30pm on a Wednesday in the spacious building on St Benedicts that was once the music shop, and then the short-lived Flat House. L&L was just getting over a post-work influx of diners. You can tell why; with wide welcoming windows letting you peer into an informal, yet stylishly appointed diner and cocktail bar, it does tempt you in.


STARTERS


Pork Belly Chunks w/Hot Sauce and Slaw


I am a sucker for a couple of things: movies that contain an improvement montage [see: any Step Up film, Sister Act – where bad singers turn remarkable choir - Blindside etc] and pork belly. What can I say? Simple pleasures. Te presentation was great, which is not always achievable for this type of smokehouse casual food. Te taste was even better – just enough hot sauce to keep it tangy and exciting, while still holding back enough for the juicy, fat-rich pork to do some good ol’ melting in your mouth. It was seriously great.


THE MAIN EVENT


Baby Back Ribs w / Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Onion Rings / New Yorker Hot Dog After the anticipation builder of the starter, we were more than ready to tuck into the


GETTING HOME...


mains. Choosing from sections like ‘Feasting’, ‘Dog House’, ‘Taco Technicians’, and ‘Burrito Bar’, it was a difficult selection. Te hot dog – my wife’s choice – was much more than I thought it’d be. I find dogs a bit of a yawn-worthy choice sometimes, but this one – packed with sauerkraut and caramelised onions really elevated it. Te ribs I chose to come with a BBQ glaze – classic – and they were tender and numerous. I love a healthy portion, but with that many on the plate, I think it would be good to serve an extra pot of sauce on the side, as they can get a little dry. For my option of choosing two of their ‘divine sides’, I went for mac ‘n’ cheese and onion rings. Both were a great idea, and generally enjoyable, but needed a little refinement. Kudos for the hint of herb in the onion rings – was it rosemary? It was nice, anyways.


DRINKS


Virgin Mary / Anchor Steam Beer Te drinks menu was a real treat, with everything from the salt of the earth, good, robust beers list, to the more elegant, wild cocktail list. I’d never heard the term boilermakers before – a beer with a chaser – and their were some inspired pairings here. I just opted for a nice Anchor Steam beer – a craft San Franciscan brew that went so well with the food. Te virgin Mary, I spied, looked well cared for and celebratory in its freshness with a sprig of rosemary in


for good measure.


VALUE L&L have opened with a realistic and encouraging price list; some of their speciality drinks are worth having a little extra in your budget for, but being able to pick up starters (and boy, that starter) for under £5, and some mains for under £10 – and leave stuffed – is really easy to stomach. Tey also offer a lunch menu that’s more limited, but everything’s £6 until 3pm.


OVERALL Lust & Liquor, already coming into a competitive marketplace where Norwich is stepping up its food game – and smoke game especially – is going to be challenging, unless you are confident with your own identity. L&L are certainly strong in that department. It’s casual without losing class, and I think it’s a smart choice for food with mates, or an informal date. Emma R Garwood


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