I went to The Library for the first time in November last year. The meal was a little bit of a disaster. A friend had a jug of water poured over him, a medium-rare steak was pretty much raw, and another steak was cold.. the list goes on. I generally don’t do restaurant reviews because one experience (good or bad) doesn’t necessarily speak for the place as a whole.

Second attempt

I decided to give the place the benefit of the doubt and didn’t review it. With Norwich Fashion Week 2013 approaching I read that The Library was doing special cocktails for the event. I decided it would be a good place to fuel up before some street style photography. When we arrived I saw there was a Mother’s Day menu and took that opportunity to book a table for the Sunday for me and my mum.

We were seated and it then took an age before anyone came to ask if we wanted drinks. I had to ask for the NFW cocktail menu. 20 minutes after sitting down we got our drinks and hastily ordered some food.


I had mushrooms on toast to start. The mushrooms were gorgeous but the bread was a little too toasted. I don’t mind something being chargrilled but this tasted burnt. Luckily the garlicky mushrooms were enough to cover the taste.


I then ordered a burger for my main. The Library is a grill so the steak and burgers should be amazing. I didn’t want to try my hand at the steak after last time so I ordered a burger with hand-cut chips and some truffle mayo.

The chips were amazing. Really amazing.


The burger, however, not so much. It was quite dry. I didn’t get the opportunity to say how I wanted it cooked (which, I expected from somewhere calling itself a grill) so it came out well done, which isn’t my preferred burger format.

Again, it was a little too chargrilled. To the point of tasting burnt. Not even the BBQ sauce or cheese could make-up for that. I did have to leave some of it. If the burger had been rare then it would’ve been stupendous!

We waited a while after our plates were taken away hoping that someone would come over and offer us a dessert menu. We couldn’t even catch someone’s eye so eventually we gave up and went to the counter to pay.

The staff were all really pleasant during this experience. It was as if they were unaware their service was so slow!

I have to say, though, that perhaps I made bad food choices because my companion said her food was delicious.

Mother’s Day

I almost cancelled my booking to take my mum elsewhere but by that time everywhere else was booked. I glad I didn’t change the booking because The Library (sort of) redeemed itself.


Again, the service wasn’t great. I ordered a NFW cocktail again – the Dolche Havana – so did my mum. We were brought pineapple juice. Upon seeing it in a normal glass I asked the waitress if it was correct. She said yes.

It wasn’t, we got the waiter to come back and fix it. He did apologise that there had been a bit of a mix up. We then ordered our food (all three courses at once, which was weird).


I went for the smokey mushrooms to start. It was really nice. Rather spicy and very tomatoey.


For main I went for the shoulder of pork with mash and veg. It was one of the nicest meals I think I’ve had in a long time. It shows that the chefs at The Library do know what they were doing. Perhaps because it was Mother’s Day they were making a bit more of an effort.

For dessert I had the crumble. I’d ordered it with ice cream and when the waiter came out I had to remind him which I’d chosen out of the ice cream or custard. Instead of taking the crumble back he just came out with a spoonful of ice cream for me…

(I won’t mention that the top of the crumble was a little burnt.)

Afterwards my mum was given a little cupcake to take away with her. A lovely touch.

I feel like I should love The Library, despite my experiences, because of the high ceilings, gorgeous decor, books and grand entrance. It’s such a lovely venue, it’s a shame the service (and in most cases, the food) doesn’t live up to that.

The Library

4A Guildhall Hill Norwich, Norfolk NR2 1JH
01603 616606