Norfolk, Restaurants and Cafes

The High Life – Rooftop Gardens

You may have read my blog a few weeks ago titled Burgers and Booths? Well this restaurant I visited only days before was a totally different experience.

I’d been hearing about Rooftop Gardens for a while. There was a new restaurant open in town (Norwich) and rumour was it was on a roof, in England, with British weather, in the outdoors!

Sign outside Union Building

Rooftop Gardens is located on the 6th floor of The Union Building in Norwich city centre. A building of many uses, it hosts offices, meeting spaces, a gym, a salon, and recently Norwich’s first rooftop bar!
Wheeling up to the front of the building I notice that weird concrete and shingle mix in the facade of the building, you know that texture that looks more like ground than wall? Makes me think I’m the wrong way round! Not the prettiest, but very retro. I love the mix of architecture Norwich has to offer. Historical, retro, and highly modern all within a short walk.

I easily enter the main building with large doors that open on to a foyer. Just inside this entrance area is a small flight of steps (I didn’t count, but my guesstimate is 10) that lead to the main ground level of corridors and lifts leading to the various businesses, offices and meeting rooms.

Wheelchair access to the top of these steps is via a small, enclosed (kinda) platform lift. My photos will describe it better than my words!

Lift from the bottom of the steps
Lift from the top of the steps
A lift not made for wheelchairs?!
 

I know the sticker on the lift door states ‘Strictly No Goods Or Electric Wheelchairs’ however I did check the weight limit on the sticker inside and it is 500kg, which is waaay more than me and my chair!

First off my friend and her baby in a pushchair mount the lift, closing the door firmly behind them. The door was fairly heavy and required a firm slam or pull to get it locked or unlocked. She presses the button to the next level but nothing happens. Another friend, a walking one, goes to the top of the steps to try and call the lift up from here. Still no movement. We try opening and closing the lift door again to make sure it is clicked into place. As the lift is o platform lift and is open at the top, we can all chat and discuss how to get this thing working. What are we doing wrong? After a few minutes and no progress we decide to phone Rooftop Gardens and ask for assistance, praying the lift isn’t broken. A friendly chap (Rooftop staff member) dressed all smartly comes down to assist us. He does all the things we have done. Open door, close door. Still no progress he calls his sidekick (the Batman to his Robin I would say). Another very helpful chap (I call them chaps because that’s just how they look) comes to our rescue. This guy knows exactly what to do!

See this red emergency button/stopper here?

Call buttons with emergency stopper at the bottom

Well there are 3 of them in total. This one near the entrance by the lift. One inside the lift. And one up the steps beside the lift. If an emergency arises you press in one of these buttons and the lift will stop. For the lift to work all these buttons need to be pulled outward as shown in my photo above. They were not, hence no movement of the lift.

Now this is great for safety, and fine for me as I’m never alone. However if one of these buttons is accidentally pushed in, maybe by a sneaky child, and you come to use the lift and it’s not working, the button that’s pushed in could be the one you cannot access. You’re at the bottom of the steps, the button pushed in is at the top. Tricky. I’m unsure how to get around this, I totally understand the need for the stoppers. All 3 of them. Batman and Robin were so helpful though, it didn’t seem a bother to them at all. I wouldn’t hesitate to call up to Rooftop Gardens again for assistance.

The second lift was a breeze, just your normal run of the mill lift. Phew!

Top of the stairs/lift

Entering the restaurant/bar felt like entering another world. Nothing like the building outside, up here it was swish, glamorous, this was luxury.

We were greeted by a friendly waiter that asked if we would like to dine or drink. As the weather wasn’t at its best (when is it’s best in England?!) we were shown to a table inside by the window, with a magnificent view of the cathedral.

Cloudy skies with Norwich Cathedral in the distance

The view of the cathedral was the only reminder that we were still in the centre of Norwich.

There was ample space for me to navigate the bar and restaurant areas, it wasn’t a busy time, yet even if all the tables were occupied I still think I would be able to wheel around without asking people to stand. There were some booths along the side, but even these were accessible as it wasn’t fully enclosed.

Bar area
Spacious seating
 

The table we were seated at (as do all of the others I think) had a central leg which allowed space for me to wheel up to. Table height was also perfect. 
Our waiter for lunch (I feel awful not knowing his name) was extremely friendly and accommodating, without being needy or hovering.

I imagine this little gem of escape up here is how it feels to be a celebrity (not that I ever want to be one!) but it feels like the kind of life you would need to pay for. How the ‘other half’ live, not that I’ve ever really understood that saying. You were made to feel special, like you were something. Not just another inconvenience.

You were also treated as an equal. The place felt posh, damn it is posh, but we didn’t dress that way, and I didn’t feel out of place. I felt comfortable, welcomed. Here is a place that treats everybody the same. Everybody gets treated with the highest quality service.

I felt the same when I dined at Claridges London (yes I’m loving this high life recently!). Neither place felt snooty, although they are definitely a step above my usual eatery. You’re made to feel special whoever you are.

I ordered a posh scotch egg, £7.50’s worth of scotch egg, but boy was it worth it! Designed as a starter this scotch egg was of perfect size for me as a light lunch, it came served on a leafy salad with a bacon jam. Yes bacon jam! It really was delicious, cooked perfectly so the egg had a slightly runny yolk.

I do apologise that there’s no photo of my delicious scotch egg (a bit unlike me, I’m usually snapping away like a tourist!), but I dived right in and totally forgot. I did however take a photograph of my tea whilst it was brewing. It was a good brew, had one of those fancy fabric stylee teabags, making it more similar to loose leaf. My only complaint being the cup was too small. Pretty, but small. You know me though, I’d have my tea served in a bucket!

A brewing tea

Full of tasty food and chatted-out, we paid up and had a sneaky look around. We knew we wanted to return sometime so checked out the access to the other areas. All are fully accessible and spacious. There is also an outside area with a retractable roof so that it can be used all year round. There truly are some stunning views, they would have been even better had we chosen to go on a sunny day. Oh well, another excuse to return!

Stunning view with retractable roof
Outside ‘grassed’ area of the roof
 

I have since heard about an event they are holding during the city’s fireworks on this years bonfire weekend. An all you can eat barbecue with all you can drink mulled wine and hot chocolate, while watching the fireworks from one of the best views in Norwich. Unfortunately I was a little late to the news and it is totally sold out, unsurprisingly. If you’re lucky enough to have tickets do let me know what it was like!

So that’s another of my favourite Norwich finds this year. 

Norwich really is ‘a Fine City’.
Other Norwich gems I’ve visited and discussed are –

Urban Jungle

The Waffle House

Figbar

The Assembly House

Have you visited Norwich? Do you have any recommendations? Or any favourites in the city you live?

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34 thoughts on “The High Life – Rooftop Gardens”

  1. I have had this with a similar lift in a theatre – as you say nightmare if you are on your own and crazy about the electric wheelchairs! I love your reviews as a fairly new wheelchair user – there are so many accessibility issues that as an able bodied person just never occur to you…particularly for getting in and out of restaurants! Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to write you some for my neck of the woods!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would absolutely love to feature a guest post from you sometime when you’re out with your new wheels! If you’d be up for that?!
      I think there are so many tiny things ‘walkers’ take for granted. But then if they’ve never experienced having wheels why would some of the difficulties even cross their mind….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It frequently strikes me as odd that we’ve only just realised that life on a roof is fun. Roof top bars are now all the rage, and having enjoyed these in Singapore- where we recently lived, and in Adelaide, to where we have returned, I find it hard to believe that this is only a new thing!

    Still, well done to you, and thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The view is incredible! And the place looks fabulous as well. I’d feel like a celebrity myself if I visited! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Julia xx
    theglassofclass.com

    Liked by 1 person

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