Food Shack, Norwich’s first Hungarian restaurant: “You won’t find anything quite like this elsewhere in Norfolk”

PUBLISHED: 08:57 22 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:00 23 March 2017

Food Shack, Norwich.

Food Shack, Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2017

From the outside, Food Shack on St Stephens Road in Norwich may not look like much, but step inside and you’ll be in for a treat.

Food Shack, Norwich. Owner and chef, Robert Kelemen with his wife Erika and their son Aron.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYFood Shack, Norwich. Owner and chef, Robert Kelemen with his wife Erika and their son Aron. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Tucked away just out of the city centre, the family run restaurant opened in January of this year but business is yet to really start booming.

This is upsetting, considering the amount of hard work and love the Kelemen’s have put in to creating the place.

The family moved to the UK from Gyor in 2007 and have lived in Norwich for the last five years.

Food Shack, Norwich. Bakonyi, a traditional Hungarian chicken dish, with dumplings.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYFood Shack, Norwich. Bakonyi, a traditional Hungarian chicken dish, with dumplings. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

MORE: Farmyard, Norwich, restaurant review: “I wasn’t overly convinced this contemporary bistro would be all it’s cracked up to be”

Erika Kelemen, who owns the restaurant along with her husband, Robert, the head chef, said: “We’ve always dreamed of opening our own restaurant but only recently have we had enough money to do so.

“We serve a mixture of cultural Hungarian dishes as well as more traditional food such as burgers and chips, so there’s something on offer for everyone.”

Food Shack, Norwich. Hungarian goulash with dumplings.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYFood Shack, Norwich. Hungarian goulash with dumplings. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The menu contains hearty main meals such as Bakonyi, a dish of chicken breast and mushrooms in a paprika sauce, served with homemade dumplings, the latter of which have a unique texture - somewhere between a British dumpling and pasta.

Beef Goulash also features, as well as Gypsy Roast (grilled pork steak with garlic and bacon), which is Erika’s favourite.

We sit to sample the Bakonyi and Goulash and are impressed with the wholesome meals. The meat is slow-cooked and incredibly tender, it melts in the mouth, while the dumplings add something unexpected and special to the whole experience - you won’t find anything quite like this elsewhere in Norfolk.

Food Shack, Norwich. Pancakes with sweet cottage cheese and raisins.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYFood Shack, Norwich. Pancakes with sweet cottage cheese and raisins. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

MORE: Lust & Liquor, Norwich, restaurant review: ‘The place itself is inviting but the experience was subpar’

This statement is true, Food Shack is Norwich’s very first Hungarian restaurant, despite the city having a reasonably large Hungarian community.

“There are several shops that sell the Hungarian ingredients we use in our food and a couple of thousand Hungarian people living in the city,” says Robert, as he lays down a plate of pancakes on the table in front of me.

“Pancakes,” he adds, “are a traditional Hungarian dessert.”

These ones are served cold, something I’m not initially sure about, and are filled with a sweet cottage cheese, lemon zest and raisins. A light dusting of cocoa powder on top gives them a mouth watering chocolatey scent.

Other pancake fillings on the menu include apricot and cream, and there’s also a great looking selection of cakes on display near the counter.

Family is at the very heart of this place, with Erika and Robert’s son’s, Máté and Aron, also being heavily involved in the business.

Because of this, the restaurant seems incredibly welcoming, with a calm atmosphere, much like walking into somebody’s home.

It’s also nicely laid out, simplistic but with pretty mason jar decorations on each table and a gorgeous display of orchids in the window. As an added bonus, they have a BYOB policy.

Those who have visited so far have been impressed, with a host of great reviews on TripAdvisor and Facebook. They also just had their first hygiene inspection and received four stars straight off the bat.

Despite all of this, the place is almost deserted at 6pm on a Friday night, with only two other people eating in the establishment.

Hopefully through word of mouth, more business can be drummed up for this charming restaurant and the lovely family keeping it going.

• Have you been to Food Shack? Let us know what you thought in the comments below.

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  • The food reviews are just so pretentious, trying to cram in as many fancy adjectives as possible even if the context isn't quite right. Re: this restaurant I wandered past once, saw no one in there, it looked like it had the atmosphere of the cafe on The Apprentice, and then the prices of £10+ for a course were just too high (I actually thought it was a takeaway). The food might be great but they need to build a customer base first before they can start charging these prices.

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    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • This review has possibly just been rivalled by the one of the edit cavel which is so so bad I am crying a little inside. AA Gill is weeping in heaven at just how bad these reviews are. Shame on you all.

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    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • Danny

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • In defence of the authors, I think they are one of the better aspects of reporting on this site, these are clearly ordinary people out to enjoy a meal, just like us the punters (not food snobs like Moosey). They're honest and unpretentious so keep up the good work.

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    Only Me

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • Also these food reviews are terrible. I mean *Really* awful. I know c0urtney is a terrible writer (NOT journalist) but this is new lows. You are insulting your readers with such poor writing, and insulting hard working restaurants with such poor reviews. I've seen better restaurant reviewed from 12 year olds. You will never be Jay Rayner or Giles Coren. Just stop. Even the hideous Norwich food blogs where the writers get fed for free in exchange for a meal are better than this drivel.

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    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • I walk past it frequently too. Firstly it just doesn't look inviting or interesting from the outside. Secondly the location sucks, All you have is 2 pretty rubbish pubs and the weird Turkish restaurant that is always empty. It's a dead spot at night. The Lanes would have been far better. Not sure how people can claim it is expensive, it's cheap compared to some eateries in the lanes that are packed out every night. It costs money to run a restaurant, the family need to pay rent, rates, bills and make a living.

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    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • Shame, but not surprised. Food Shack sounds like a transport cafe you'd see on the A1, not a proper restaurant you'd actually want to eat in. Plus from outside it looks like a fish & chip shop. If they want to attract people in and (apparently) charge premium prices they'll have to look more sophisticated and inviting than that. A bit of market research would have helped them get it right.

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    Only Me

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

  • Their Trip advisor reviews are great, I walked past to have a look and they definitely need to rethink the 'escape from colditz' font on the shop front.

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    Colin Ofinterplanetarycraft

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • I walk past this café every day and have looked at the menu quite a few times. I'll be honest, it seems quite expensive given the competition from other independent cafesrestaurants in Norwich. I'm sure the food is very nice but the prices are a little too high for some people.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • I agree, Colin. "Food Shack" could be anything- there's no indication that the food on offer is Hungarian. Most restaurant names tell you what the cuisine will be: Taj Mahal, La Dolce Vita, that sort of thing. Perhaps the owners should reconsider naming it something like "Balaton" or "Danube". For the uninitiated, I can confirm that Hungarian food is very good, having visited the country several times.

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    Suffolk Exile

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • I am a big fan of trying new food, and on the strength of this article, will certainly be giving the place a go. I would venture, however, that the name of this restaurant isn't great. 'Food shack' sounds cheap and uninteresting. The title gives no hint of what type of restaurant this is and the exterior looks pretty bland. When you consider how rich and beautiful Hungarian culture is, this really isn't reflected by the way this place has been 'packaged'. Sok szerencsét, magyar barátaim!

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    Colin Ofinterplanetarycraft

    Monday, March 20, 2017

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