Since opening at Green Pastures in Norwich in spring 2015 it has set new standards. Its success is made all the more remarkable by its emergence from almost nowhere. In 2013, after two particularly cold winter and spring seasons, owners James and Michelle Debbage decided that their plant centre and farm shop needed a catering offer to generate year-round footfall.
Word of mouth brought customers into Gardener's Kitchen, with dishes such as "Head Gardener's Breakfast", "Muddy Boot Chocolate Sundae" served in a glass wellington boot and "Gardener's Afternoon Tea" served in a wooden trug.
The new timber-framed building, like a large potting shed, fits in perfectly with its rural surroundings, creating a relaxed atmosphere. There is underfloor heating and doors open onto a patio in the garden centre.
More than 40 varieties of herbs and salads are grown just outside the door, cut fresh every morning. Further produce grown on Green Pastures' farm include asparagus, squashes, leeks, beetroot, beans, brassicas and rhubarb.
Other produce comes from a local wholesale market and the restaurant has 70 local suppliers. It produces samples for customers to try and homemade pies for the farm shop.
All dishes including cakes are homemade.
There are 150 fully booked Sunday lunches each week and plenty of options for vegetarians. The head chef also produces a monthly themed evening dinner menu.
A play corner, "VIPea Loyalty Club" and "Free Tea Tuesdays" are other features that have helped the restaurant reach 39 per cent of total sales in the first 12 months of opening. Green Pastures has also won best restaurant in the Norfolk Food Awards.
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