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rookedly half-timbered, the Temple Bar lurks appropriately in the shadow of Norwich’s Roman Catholic Cathedral on Earlham Road. References to

its Irish pedigree are present but subtle; green windows, green doors, Guinness paraphernalia and the bespectacled gaze of James Joyce from the chalk board on the wall. Subtle like a half brick. However, unlike Joyce’s undecipherable writing in Ulysses, the appeal of this place is a bit easier to understand.hole.


Ramshackle rooms held in place with dark wooden beams sprawl across the ground floor. All the walls (and the ceiling!) have vintage signs extolling the virtues of Guinness and Murphy’s Irish stout. A plasma screen TV dominates the centre of the room with the rugby world cup taking pride of place. So that’s it then? Ireland and sports and booze and booze and sports and Ireland. A lot of people like a lot of those things, there’s nothing wrong with any of them, but is that really it? And yet… the clientele were a diverse mix, not just made up of the assumed crowd attracted by lager and live sportsball matches. Tere is definitely something

more than meets the eye to this bar. Most places like this only offer one type of food – dive bar gourmet, which involves me and a few mates pooling our resources so we can afford enough packets of Big D nuts to reveal the bikini clad beauty on the cardboard backing. I’m a classy feller. If I’m feeling sociable I may tear open my packet of ready salted to share with the table. I’m pleased to say a glance at the menu showed a lot more was on offer (still, I’ll miss Bikini Lady; I really thought we had a connection.)


Despite its unassuming demeanour, the quality of Te Temple Bar’s Sunday

lunches has to be one of Norwich’s worst kept secrets and the draw for the flocks of hungry punters piling in as soon as the doors were opened. Tis is, therefore, a contradiction to be savoured. A well-worn sports venue that serves a great Sunday roast. And not just great in terms of quantity (they are BIG!), but in quality too; beautifully presented and excellently served. Five different selections of meaty lunch and a vegan option were available. We selected beef brisket and the vegan roast, and were delighted when they arrived. Te beef crumbled at the lightest touch, it was tender and flavourful. Te vegan roast was a delicious mix of beans and pulses, squash and parsley accompanied with a lovely peppery vegetable gravy. Both were plated with enormous Yorkshire puddings and crispy roast potatoes. Te vegetable selection too was unexpectedly impressive with carrot, broccoli, cabbage, red cabbage, beans, beetroot, leeks and squash. As if that wasn’t enough cauliflower cheese was thrown in for good measure. Entirely faultless they both looked great and tasted fabulous; it was the best Sunday lunch I have had in some time!

OVERALL Tis place undeniably has character. In the same way that a broken nose gives character to an unremarkable face, the worn façade of Te Temple Bar adds real interest and charm that more polished and gentrified establishments can only dream of. If you just come for the atmosphere it’s a good place, but throw into the mix a cracking Sunday lunch and you’re on to a winner.

James MacDonald


26 / October 2015/

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