Having heard much about No 1 Cromer and being a big fan of Galton Blackiston and his ethos of using local and sustainable produce we finished off a day yesterday (18th June) which started out at RSPB Titchwell and slowly moved along the North Norfolk Coast and ended in Cromer and after a long walk along the prom to work up an appetite we decided to try No 1 for a fish & chip supper (in the past we have always been to Mary Janes).
We had deliberately not checked out any of the review sites to ensure we had no pre-judged perceptions of what to expect, however, with Galton Blackiston's involvement we did expect good service and good food.
The restaurant was reasonably busy for a mid-week night but we could see from where we stood at the "please wait to be seated" sign that there were plenty of vacant tables, so it was very disappointing that after 10 minutes of waiting we were still stood "waiting to be seated". It was only when another group came in behind us that the lady behind the bar suddenly realised there were people stood waiting and made signals at us as to whether we were waiting to be seated (why else would we have been standing there!!) and then sent a waitress over by this time we had been waiting for 15 minutes!! If the restaurant had been full with no empty tables this kind of wait would have been perfectly acceptable, but not when there were obvious vacant tables it just seemed that the waiting staff simply weren't keeping an eye on whether people were coming in and waiting to be seated.
We were eventually sat at a table for two towards the back of the restaurant near where the toilets are, we weren't offered a choice of where to sit, just shown to a table, unfortunately as we were not directly beside a window we could not benefit from the view outside. The first thing we both noticed (but especially myself as I had a short sleeve top on) was that the table top felt really "sticky" - I don't know if this is because they're not being cleaned with an appropriate cleaner (we noticed that when people had finished their meals the waiting staff were cleaning the tables with a spray in bottles which were labelled as "Glass & Window Cleaner" which hardly seems appropriate for cleaning restaurant table tops down!!).
We ordered Cod & Chips for my husband and Haddock & Chips for myself and drinks. Our drinks arrived very quickly together with our box of sauces etc. The wait for our meal was quite acceptable as it is made clear on the menus etc., that the fish is cooked fresh to order so we, therefore, expected our fish to come out fresh, crispy batter & piping hot. Disappointingly when our meal arrived it was clear that my Haddock (being slightly smaller than my husband's Cod) had been ready before my husband's Cod and had been sat waiting so both meals came out together. Whilst my Haddock was hotish, it was certainly not piping hot and "steaming" when I cut into it like my husband's Cod was and the batter whilst crispy on the top had gone soggy underneath a clear indication that my Haddock had been sat waiting to be served. Looking at other dishes that were served to tables the couple on the table next to us both had Plaice which again when they cut into it were "steaming" hot and a couple on the other side both had Cod which again were clearly both "steaming" hot when they cut into them. It was very disappointing that because we had different types of fish they didn't both arrive at the table equally hot.
I would say the fish itself was very nice (not the best we've ever had but very nice), my husband said the tartare sauce was really tasty (he ate mine too as I cannot eat anything mayonnaise based) and the tomato ketchup in the "sauce box" was also very tasty. The chips, however, were quite soggy and pale and there seemed to be an awful lot of grease left on the plate when we'd finished eating - not quite the high quality we had expected with Galton Blackiston having designed the menu and his name attached to the restaurant.
On using the facilities they were fresh & clean, however, again the flooring in the ladies particularly in the cubicles seemed "sticky" underfoot. Also having watched and then assisted an older lady struggling with how to get water out of the tap it might pay to put some simple signs up explaining that they are sensor taps!!!
£10 for Fish & Chips in a restaurant (bearing in mind if you want peas or anything with it that is all extra) is quite expensive especially when the quality was no better than what you would get in a "fish & chip shop" and when there seems to be a lot of "niggly" things that could so easily be rectified and, as No 1 has been open for some length of time now these can hardly be called "teething problems" and at the end of the day with Galton Blackiston's name linked to the restaurant it is his reputation that is at stake.
Unfortunately, it promised much but did not really delivery, at the end of the day we have had far superior fish & chips in restaurants/pubs before you only have to try the Fur & Feathers at Woodbastwick we have never ever had either soggy chips or batter there but then their batter is made with the best Real Ale in the County!!
It was also rather off putting that when we walked along the pathway overlooking the prom around the back of the building that what looked to be the Chef in his clearly labelled No 1 "whites" was sat on the concrete step smoking!!
Sadly based on our experience last night it is unlikely we would go back.
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