Eating Out

Review: Cafe Jungle, Norfolk

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The prospect of an entirely gluten free cafe is always going to grab my attention, but one set in a leafy paradise with sofas and tables nestled amongst towering trees and around a giant koi pond meant I had to get myself there pronto. Cafe Jungle is based (rather randomly) in a garden centre in the little village of Costessey about 20 minutes’ north of Norwich, but one step through its doors and you’re swiftly immersed in a far more exotic setting.
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Instead of just setting for an easy menu of gf-based sandwiches, there’s plenty of variety on offer here. Granted, there is an array of toasties (with salad) to choose from, but there’s also several types of quiches, soup, pies and even stuffed mushrooms on the menu; as well as an entire counter of tempting cakes and sweet treats. I already had plans for dinner and didn’t want anything too hefty, so settled for a camembert and cranberry toastie – and it was delectable. The toasted bread had a great texture and taste (aided further by its buttery crisp exterior), while the melted camembert oozed out at the edges and there was perfect amount of cranberry to offer a contrasting sweetness and balance out the richer taste of the cheese. My boyfriend, meanwhile, enjoyed a pastrami, cheddar and caramelized red onion toastie and only had very complementary things to say about the flavour combination (especially the red onion). Afterwards, we shared a piece of carrot cake, which boasted a good, full flavour and moist texture – something which can often fall by the wayside with gf bakes.
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During my visit I also spied the quiches – when I read this option on the menu I assumed diners would just receive a slice along with the new potatoes and salad, but you’re actually given a whole quiche (albeit a one person-sized one, not something that you’d feed several people at a picnic with). I saw a couple pass my table as I was eating and they looked delicious – not a dry or crumbly crust in sight – so I’ll definitely be trying one of those next time.
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While the food is undeniably tasty, the prices were a tad less appealing – a toastie, pot of tea and a slice of cake set me back £14. However, I do understand that gluten free food does tend to cost more to produce and you’re also paying to eat in a rather unusual and beautiful setting. The fact there was still a short wait for a table after the lunch rush, despite its fairly remote destination (you can’t get there without a car), is testament to the great quality of the food at this cafe and its wonderful uniqueness. Move over Louie, there’s a new king of the jungle!
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