Our Favourite Restaurants in Norwich for Eating Al Fresco


Al fresco dining might not be as popular in the UK as it is on the continent (probably something to do with the weather) but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the innate pleasures of eating under the sun and stars during the spring and summer months. There can be few things in life more special and comforting than enjoying a fine meal with the sun on your skin and the cool air running through your hair and thankfully, there is an abundance of al fresco dining options in Norwich.

Bella Italia (4AA Leisure Scheme, Riverside, NR1 1EE) 

If there is one country that truly knows al fresco dining, it’s Italy. As such, Bella Italia is a chain that’s uniquely placed to offer diners an authentic taste of outsider dining. The stunning Norwich Bella Italia is located inside the Riverside Leisure Complex and looks out over the river with a gorgeous outside area that’s open every day for lunch and dinner. Whether you fancy a filling breakfast in the sun or a classic pizza before checking out a summer blockbuster at the nearby cinema, Bella Italia is a fine choice.

The Dining Rooms @ Cinema City (Cinema City, St Andrew's Street, NR2 4AD) 

The Dining Rooms is located within the unique cinema city complex - a grade 2 listed building, parts of which date all the way back to the 14th century. The complex houses a three-screen cinema, a relaxed outside courtyard and dining area, which is where you’ll find The Dining Rooms. The food is simple, with soups, scallops and various vegetarian options, but it’s the setting that beings punters back for more. 

The Plough (58 St Benedicts Street, NR2 4AR) 

A classic British pub that boasts one of the most active and luxurious beer gardens in Norwich, The Plough is housed in a 17th-century merchant’s building and has spent the last decade or so since it first reopened building a reputation for itself as one of Norwich city centre’s most treasured pubs. It’s obviously a joyous place for an outside beer when the sun’s out, but the food is also not to be sniffed at for an affordable al fresco experience. It’s simple and robust pub grub, but it goes down a treat and is the perfect accompaniment to a lazy afternoon in the sunshine. 

The Rushcutters Arms (46 Yarmouth Road, Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich, NR7 0HE) 

Set on the banks of the River Yare in the quaint village of Thorpe St Andrew on the fringes of Norwich, the gorgeous 16th century Rushcutters is not only a venue of great historical interest, but is a wonderful little pub and restaurant to boot with some fantastic al fresco dining options. With its own boat moorings and a generous riverside area, it’s the perfect place to sit with a pint and a hearty meal and watch the world go by on the river. As a Chef & Brewer pub, the menu contains all of the favourite classics - from cod and chips to burgers and a substantial vegan and vegetarian menu.

The Belgian Monk (7 Pottergate, NR2 1DS) 

Opened at the turn of the century, The Belgian Monk aims to do something a little different to your average pub. A selection of 45 Belgian beers are served alongside a constantly changing menu that is tailored to suit whatever fresh ingredients come in and it’s all served in a decidedly relaxed “friends and family” atmosphere and at a price that won’t break the bank. The pub also allows diners access to a substantial beer garden, where they can enjoy one of the most affordable al fresco experiences in the city. Despite the fact that it’s famous for its mussels (they sell over a quarter tonne every week fresh from Brancaster), the city centre located Belgian Monk also boasts an extensive vegan menu. 

The Lamb Inn (Lamb Yard, Orford Place, NR1 3RU) 

Something very special indeed, the Lamb is an oasis in the heart of the city that boasts the best courtyard in the city. Heated for winter diners and absolutely perfect in the summer, the Lamb is a traditional pub with a relaxed atmosphere and an extensive menu of pies, fish, grills and general home comforts. However, it’s that courtyard that is the real hook here. Close your eyes and you’ll almost feel like you’re on a Mediterranean holiday!

Woolf and Social (21-23 Nelson Street, NR2 4DW) 

An artisan location inspired by the idea of a social club, Woolf & Social is a brand new kind of dining experience for Norwich. The brainchild of friends Felix Rehberg and Francis Woolf, the food is crafted to be shared amongst friends and family and combines the best ideas from street food and fine dining. Think of it like post tapas! An Observer Food Monthly Award Winner, W&S also allows diners and drinkers to sit outside the front of the pub, creating a decidedly continental atmosphere that has helped it become one of the most popular restaurants in the western part of the city.

Whilst the weather might not always be conducive to al fresco dining, just having it as an option is often appreciated as we all know how the Brits like to revel in the sunshine whenever it decides to grace us with its presence. So, next time the sun is out, take a quick gander at the pubs and restaurants above and treat yourself to a one-of-a-kind al fresco dining experience.

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