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Originally published 2019
So it’s finally here.
After what’s felt like months of activity at the old Natwest bank at the top of London Street, this Monday Cosy Club Norwich finally flung open its (rather heavy, wooden) doors.
The building is a familiar sight to regular visitors of the city; certainly for anyone who walks to work it’s been an exciting couple of months going past the building and seeing different – hidden – things going on each day. It’s a grand exterior, too: the building is the old National Provincial Bank, designed by F C R Palmer and completed in 1925 (on the site of the previous bank). It rises up from the pavement – at the junction of two streets – making a huge architectural statement, and topped off by an ornate clock tower.
For a building with almost 100 years of history, you can guarantee that there are plenty of period features to be had inside, and Cosy Club have gone all out to make the most of these. Taking cues from the Art Deco period (think more luxurious speakeasy than all-out Great Gatsby geometry), scenes from the local area, as well as a massive steer from the original features themselves, the interior of the building is sensitively yet beautifully decorated. The old Vault, for example, has been turned into a private dining room, where industrial-looking leather chairs and white metro tiles meet tasselled lamps and plush carpets… a very atmospheric place for a party.
In the main dining area – in what was the banking hall – the centrepiece of the room is the huge, domed glass ceiling that lets in a flood of natural light during the day, and reflects hundreds of glittering candles at night. Potted Palms bring nature inside, reminiscent of courtyard dining rooms from the 1920s (or things that we’ve seen on Downton Abbey, for most of us). Beyond that is another dining room – smaller with low hanging chandeliers and sumptuous red décor.
In addition to the vault, there is the Oval dining room available to hire (it’s oval shaped, as you might guess), and the A W Russell room upstairs, which comes complete with squashy sofas and its own bar. In fact, the A W Russell room is named after a bank messenger who worked at the bank until 1830 – and who reportedly carried a revolver at all times. Another fun fact: there’s over 300 light bulbs used in the downstairs chandeliers alone.
‘Cosy Club want to be an easy meeting place for people, as well as somewhere that you can enjoy a cracking cocktail’
The ethos of the Cosy Club is one of inclusivity. They want to be an easy meeting place for people, as well as somewhere that you can enjoy a cracking cocktail. It’s designed to be part of the community, and during their first month they will be donating 50p from every burger and 20p from every coffee to EACH Hospices.
Before we come on to the food and drink, it’s also worth mentioning how great the staff are. We visited this Monday, and everyone we spoke to was very friendly, and knowledgeable about the venue and its offer. It made a phenomenal impact on the atmosphere of the evening, and really felt true to everything the Cosy Club is setting out to do by way of being a place that is inviting for all communities in Norwich.
Cosy Club is open basically all day, so you can go for a lazy breakfast, easy coffee, afternoon meeting, post-work drink or late-evening dinner. And the menu reflects that kind of laid-back ethos too: it’s food that you like, done well: buttermilk pancakes or ham hock hash for breakfast, crispy sesame chicken, or camembert, roast tomato and sticky onion tart for a main, for example. All delicious food that you know you’ll love – and they’re working towards being 100% free-range too. We tried deep fried halloumi fries that were to die for, as well as goat’s cheese croquettes and an oozy, crispy scotch egg that was cooked to perfection.
That said, this is a place for easy drinks – cosy drinks, even. It’s the kind of place to stay for hours, not tick off on pub golf. So if you’re looking for somewhere to meet that friend you haven’t seen in ages, take a first date or even book that surprise birthday party for your mum, I could think of nowhere better. Cosy Club is inviting, beautifully decorated, and a lot of fun.
Welcome to Norwich.