JR’s – Stomp, Dine, Strike – North Walsham!
I had literally no idea JR’s existed until they invited us over to North Walsham to try out their newly re-opened bowling, stomping (indoor and outdoor play) and American Diner yet it’s been a fixture in North Walsham since John Rossi (the original JR) set it up way back in the 70s and, by all accounts I’ve received on my Instagram account after storying our visit yesterday, it is very well loved in the area.
Now I grew up in Norwich and feel I should have known about this place but didn’t so in case you’re local like me and haven’t yet been introduced to the delights (and they are delightful I assure you) then let me be host and say meet JR’s!
I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t expecting much. I thought this would be a fairly run down joint with dirty-ish play areas and mediocre at best food. I’ll also be honest and say I was completely wrong and totally blown away by how brilliant it is. It’s not run down looking in the slightest, the play areas are top notch and all look brand new as does the bowling and the restaurant is utterly fab – not just in decor (it is really cool on that front too) but the food is really good. We have eaten out a few times this month (thanks very much for the discount Rishi) and this was our best meal yet. I would say it came in above Zaks (which was also very good) and streets and heads and shoulders above The Pigs in Edgefield (just DO NOT GO THERE, it was NOT GOOD) and also food wise (although the staff were lovely) The Banningham Crown. On a par food wise with the Buck in Blickling – and so far that is the extent of our August eats but believe me this place comes out top for service, food, ambiance, family friendliness and fun. In short, we loved it!
I am not a fan at the best of times when it comes to soft play – we go because the kids like it but I don’t enjoy the environment – Gymboree’s expensive middle class fun is one thing but sitting and waiting and watching kids run around and get all sweaty and that inimitable soft play aroma of feet and poo, yuck, just not my bag. Right now it ESPECIALLY wouldn’t be what I’d choose to do because, well, Corona… And I hadn’t realised this element would be open or I’d have had a coronary before we arrived. Not gonna lie I wasn’t thrilled to be in there and was glad the kids didn’t want to stay long though it was VERY clean and I watched them cleaning behind the children as well as know they deep clean in between each 2 hour session (and less than half their usual numbers are being sold tickets which have to be booked in advance). It just felt a bit alien to me I guess. Kiddos loved it naturally and it was good to let them be free. They will be back at school in 3 weeks so this problem is mine and I have to deal with it. JR’s couldn’t really have done more with plenty of hand sanitising stations, limited toilets being open and asking people to wear masks (not everyone did – bloody nuisances)!
I felt much more at ease outside where there is a lovely state of the art play area (it really is gorgeous), a massive maize maze (it’s HUGE and lots of fun), hay bales to climb on, a little beach and big chalk boards. This is where we spent most of our playing time – mask free and feeling a bit more relaxed!
Stomp varies in price with peak and off peak prices but the most expensive price is FREE for under 1s, £3.50 for under 3s, £4.50 for over 4s and £1 for adults. I have to say at this point – that price tag for an adult is a MASSIVE bug bear of mine. ALL places like this seem to charge for it so I guess I can’t blame them but my thinking is either they have to let me drop my kids off and return for them later on while THEY watch them run themselves ragged on the equipment. No… Doesn’t sound good does it?! Or let me in for free! I just don’t get why should I have to pay for myself to be there?! It’s not like I can blooming get anything from it is it?! So… I think perhaps unless I wanted to bring more than one adult per kid then I should go free – perhaps JR’s could buck the trend and be the first to cull this ridiculous surcharge for soft play! I actually find this MASSIVELY off putting and though only a pound it’s not one I want to part with. I’ll buy a drink, make your money from me that way!
And then it was time to eat. Like I mentioned the food was genuinely very good. I mean it’s is what it is in an American diner and it’s not fine dining but way above average for this sort of thing and the kids loved it. The music was ace, loud enough to make it fun and not intrusive while also hiding the kids when they made a bit of noise and broke free of restaurant etiquette. Again you must book (they also do a take away) and they can only fit limited numbers in due to social distancing. There was LOT of food with massive portions and really none of us needed a desert but you know us… Couldn’t resist. As a result we wasted a bit of food here and could have shared – naughty and we will know for next time. This meal with HUGE mains and deserts and drinks as well as 3 kids meals (they even subbed Florence something on the main menu and made it smaller as she didn’t fancy anything on the junior menu – which works out at £9.90 IF you upgrade on drinks to milkshakes and to a bigger desert) with shakes and pancakes to finish would have come to £56 which is immense AND Monday – Wednesday they are taking part in the Eat Out to Help Out scheme so fill your boots baby! I was impressed with quality, quantity, price and atmosphere. We would absolutely go back. No question! You are not asked to wear masks in the restaurant.
And the bowling! Again you can eat here so masks are not really practical but they DO have latex gloves, you are asked at this time to wear your own shoes with flat soles and sanitiser is on each in use lane (every other is closed). Booking is necessary of course! At £6 per game for adults or £4 for children (2 games is cheaper) it’s about on a par with bigger bowling alleys but I prefer this. Much more intimate – I am NOT a fan of those big arcades. They give me the heebie jeebies (a Haven holiday arcade is the sort of thing I’m talking about) and I can’t handle them but this I liked. Genuinely. No fruit machines that I noticed (tick), a couple of grab machines (ignored them), pool table, football table and air hockey table (tick, tick, tick) and the bowling. Enough. And bowling is GREAT!
What a fab time we had a truly a lovely place to go. So my only real bug bear is that adult surcharge for soft play. Big no, no for me but everything else was absolutely top notch! Thanks for having us Ben and staff at JR’s!
We were gifted our visit to JR’s.