I’ve just bought my first house around the corner from Norton High Street, I’m not sure if my bank balance is going to be thankful, but I am! This means that Norton High Street is going to be featured a lot more, I’m not complaining. This weekend I went to Cafe Lilli, I’ve only ever been for lunch and I’ve been meaning to go for tea for ages after always being so impressed with every meal.

The restaurant is somehow lively but it doesn’t interfere with your evening if that makes sense, we booked as I knew it would be busy, which I would recommend.

After sitting down and reading through the menu and their specials, I was overwhelmed it all sounded bloody amazing. For all of you that don’t know I’m intolerant to dairy and the waitress came over with a menu with the dishes that I could have or that they could change, which was lovely!

For starter I chose pan fried cod cheeks, chorizo jam and cauliflower salad and my boyfriend Jack, went for the coco gin and beetroot salmon gravlax, celeriac remoulade, pickled fennel and horseradish mayo.

I can’t explain how fresh my starter was and I didn’t realise how good cauliflower could be, the cod was really fresh and meaty, but the cold cauliflower cut through the heat of the chorizo jam. It was just something that I’ve never experienced before from such simple ingredients. Jack’s had salmon gravlax before and he said this was the best he’s had – I didn’t even get to try it, he had already demolished it before I had the chance!

I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t take a photo of the specials board so I can’t tell you exactly what we had but roughly I had pork belly, with pancetta and puy lentils and some other stuff most likely. Jack had poached plaice, squid ink pasta, king prawns with some sensational tomatoes and other things ha.

How incredible is the food presentation? I’m aware it’s not about how the food looks but it helps!

I don’t know where to begin with the belly pork, it had the crispiest of crackling but underneath the most butteriest pork I’ve ever tasted. Usually belly pork is really fatty but this just wasn’t, maybe I’ve just had terrible belly pork but it was outstanding. I would never normally choose pork but I had the best pork I’ve ever had for lunch here a couple of months back, I’m so glad I chose it again! Everything just worked together, the pancetta added so much flavour and the lentils added texture and filled me up too.

Jack’s dish was amazing too, the pasta was cooked perfectly and it was just so so tasty, I don’t know what they did to the tomatoes but they were sensational.

Now desserts, you’re probably thinking, you can’t have dairy. But, I couldn’t say no to their apple and blackberry tart with basil sorbet and meringues. I figured the butter would just be in the tart and I thought it would be worth it and it absolutely was. Jesus christ this dessert, the basil sorbet packed a bunch of basically cold basil and it just dissolved in your mouth leaving such a light taste that worked so well with the apple and blackberry. This is definitely up there with one of the best desserts I’ve had. Jack went for the sticky date pudding and he loved it too and said it was better than my banging vegan one, I’ll let him off.

The service was faultless, it came to around £100 for 3 courses each, plus a bottle of a delicious pinot and I would absolutely pay more. I think, Cafe Lilli is my favourite place to eat in Teesside so far. Bold statement I know, but if you think somewhere can beat it then holla.

And, if you haven’t been yet then go – simple as that.

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