It was so tempting to have a lick of the plate and the juices left in the bottom of the bowl, once I had polished off the Isle of Wight tomato salad at The Northgate last week. The delicious hibiscus and sherry vinaigrette dressed tomatoes, topped with light, whipped cobnut cream and nasturtium pesto reminded me of a Spanish Gazpacho. And sitting outside on the lavender edged terrace, on what must be Bury's only central, outdoor, dining space added to the relaxed and laid back dining experience at this striking Victorian townhouse. I was invited to try the new menu and to tour the newly refurbed restaurant, cocktail bar and lounge ... all are quite stunning. There's a private dining room seating 14 (complete with giant framed cockatoos looking on). A brilliant and boldly decorated cocktail bar and a Chef's table where you can dine and watch the brigade at work. Head Chef Greig Young uses the best produce he can find, with the Taste of East Anglia menu (£45 a head) offering a selection of seasonal small plates, inspired by the local area and it's producers. And no I didn't only eat a salad, I ate bread made with Pakenham Mill flour, then a crisp and light Norfolk Dapple gougere, next came hand cut beef tartare with pickled mustard, broad beans and red endive, followed by a spiced East Anglian bhaji using local potatoes, and the finale of the savoury plates; fillet of plaice in a seaweed crust with a crisp lobster 'scampi' on a light hollandaise, lifted by slices of pickled cucumber. Greig chose to serve a whipped dark Tosier chocolate, creme de cacao ice cream on a saucy kombucha, caramel espresso as a pre-dessert and then for the main dessert - like I really needed two, roast white chocolate with hibiscus (think Caramac, but better) with roasted red fruit, raspberries and milk ice cream. As well as the superb food at The Northgate staff are also delightful, providing a professional, discreet yet friendly service under the expert guidance of Manager Michael Box.
- the homemade bread
- Norfolk Dapple gougeres
- Isle of Wight tomatoes, juicy with the hibiscus vinaigrette and you'd never believe that with the cobnut cream this is a vegan dish
- Hand cut beef tartare, pickled mustard, broad beans
- Bhajis made with local spud, crips and moreish, vegan too
- A huge lobster 'scampi' aloft the plaice fillet with pickled cucumber hollandaise
- Whipped Tosier chocolate with the slightly sour Kombucha espresso caramel and creme de cacao ice cream
- Caramac! Big shards on milk ice cream and roasted red fruits
- Affordable and interesting lunch menu, perfect for al fresco dining
- The cocktails are excellent too
- Smile! Head Chef Greig Young and Manager Michael Box
It wasn’t hard to persuade me to swap a turkey meal for a delicious #fishmasdinner at Loch Fyne in Cambridge this week. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t try more of the menu. Trot on turkey, I'm eating more fish!
- soft crab pakora with raita ( I could eat all day)
- chilli and garlic prawns
- pollock served with mussels from the specials board
- seafood grill, the best way to try everything!
- treacle tart
- creme brulee
The rich yellow moon rising last night proved a good omen for our visit to The Unruly Pig. The Driver’s Drinks menu pleased Inspector X as did her Unruly Damson Spritz. I chose a large glass of the soft and very approachable Italian Barbera. The Unruly Pig has an interesting set menu, which changes often, but the piece de la resistance was on the regular menu that is changed monthly. I was leaning towards the Crispy Duck Egg with Parma Ham, Jerusalem Artichoke and Hazelnut starter when Brendan the congenial owner recommended a new addition: the Venison Tartare and Croquette with Beetroot, Apple and Blackberry. Beautifully seasoned venison tartare, with a delicate balance of tiny apple cubes, beetroot, blackberries, a lacy bread disc and a croquette of slow cooked venison haunch was the unrivalled star of the evening. Inspector X had the Ham Hock on Toast with Gorgonzola which although delicious was quite overshadowed by my venison. There is something to please even the pickiest diner on the Unruly Pig menu. Main courses chosen were Roasted Wood Pigeon Breasts with Pigeon and Black Pudding Pie (I could have eaten this little pie as a meal by itself) and Inspector X had Fillet of Hake with Saffron, Tomato and Haricot Bean Stew from the set menu. Brendan prides himself on his impressive appreciation of wines, including the Unruly Pig’s dessert wines, and we were delighted with his recommendations, a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc and a Cadillac (French) – although I still prefer my pronunciation. My Damson and Pistachio Bakewell Tart was delicious but would have been even better served warm. The ever sweet and generous Inspector X shared her Hazelnut Panna Cotta with Roasted Pears and Coffee Gel (set menu) which was the perfect end to a great evening’s dining. We were guests of The Unruly Pig but amazed by the value of the set menu (two courses £15, three courses £18) and the regular menu won't break the bank either. Hearing something of the drama of the fire in the restaurant we celebrated Brendan’s dedication in getting the restaurant up and running again so quickly. At first glance the décor is almost unassuming but as the evening goes on it clear everything has been thoughtfully put together – right down to the background music and glass jar filled with dog biscuits on the bar counter. Heartfelt thanks to Brendan and his team. If I lived closer to the Unruly Pig I would soon qualify for a diamond loyalty card.
- Fillet of Hake with Saffron, Tomato & Haricot Bean Stew, Wilted Gem Lettuce
- Roasted Wood Pigeon with Pigeon and Black Pudding Pie, Kale and Mushrooms
- Dog biscuits on the bar ... Pooches welcome
- Unruly Spritz ( homemade Damson cordial)
- Venison Tartare and Croquette with Beetroot, Apple and Blackberry
- Dinner by candlelight
- Set menu
- Damson and Pistachio Bakewell Tart
- Hazelnut Panna Cotta with Roasted Pear and Coffee Gel
Critically acclaimed Moro has little sisters and now we have one of them - Morito - living at the end of our road. With Brawn at the other end of the road I have hit the foodie jackpot for restaurants moving to this area of London, although at suffolkfoodie we rarely have deep enough pockets to go there more than once. Give me the pie and mash shops for dedication to service (about a hundred years of it) and value (still £3.50 for a home made lunch) But award-winning Moorish cuisine, rooted in Spanish and North African influences is hard to ignore, and the owners of Moro - Sam and Sam Clark - were locals once, they lived in the area too. So we booked our table, starting with three glasses of sherry (not each - there were three of us) advised by a waitress from Jerez, and quickly into a starter of dakos - a salad of tomatoes and soaked rye bread with fresh cheese, olives and anchovies. We then went through the tapas: octopus with fava puree, a succulent turbot steak with sherry vinegar and paprika, salt cod with purple potatoes, rabbit deep fried to a dry crunch with rosemary and moscatel vinegar, labneh with chillies and broad beans, and beetroot sweet herb borani with walnuts. It's all about the fresh quality ingredients and the interesting flavours here. The dessert we shared was filo pastry with gum mastic labneh and rhubarb. All of this and a glass of wine each amounted to £40 a head including service. I think we can afford to go back.
- beetroot, sweet herb borani and walnuts £6
- labneh, chillies and broad beans £7
- chicarrones - crispy pork belly £7.5
- dessert - filo, gum mastic labneh and rhubarb £7
- starter - dakos, fresh cheese, olives and anchovies £6.5
- salt cod, purple potato, quail egg and alioli £12
- the salt and spices on the table when we arrived
- turbot, sherry vinegar and paprika
I was invited by Lottie, PR for the Double Tree by Hilton in Cambridge City Centre to try dinner at The Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar and Grill. So I took up the offer. The meal passed the Suffolk Foodie quality control with flying colours. You see we get invited to eat out and review restaurants on a regular basis and we'll only write about anything that's very good. The hotel is at the end of Mill Lane in the city centre. It's a beautiful location next to the river and from the dining room you can watch the punts go by. Well, you can when it's not dark outside. Lottie told me that the restaurant opened in April 2014 and is branded by Marco Pierre White, with the brand team writing menus and ensuring that the Head Chef at the hotel meets the required standards. Its actually a very stylish restaurant with more than a nod to fine dining, not what I had expected of a steakhouse, bar and grill. Service was charming with the extremely friendly, but unobtrusive team of Marion, Claire and Evelin (pictured above) looking after us extremely well. I took Mr Suffolk Foodie ... he loves a steak. Steaks are on the a la carte menu and listed as 28 day dry aged native breed steaks. The usual classic cuts ... Fillet, Sirloin, Ribeye, T.Bone and Chateaubriand. There's a table d'hote menu too, so we ate from each menu, with a bit of wheeling and dealing done between us at the table. Table d'hote menu comes in at a keen £20 for two courses or £24 for three. From the TDH menu we chose a starter of smoked salmon, celeriac remoulade garnished with peashoots. Really simple but pretty presentation and a beautiful remoulade, which happens to be a favourite of mine. This one was good because it was very well seasoned and held its' own against the flavour of the smoked salmon. From the a la carte we chose the rillettes of duck with prunes d'Agen and toasted sourdough. Chunky prunes and soft, succulent duck meat, but don't tell MPW I had to use the salt and pepper mill as it was lacking. A little amuse bouche arrived; a palate cleanser of sharp lemon sorbet which was super and appreciated after the rich rillettes. Mr Suffolk Foodie chose the Ribeye (rare) with a side of Bearnaise Sauce for his main course. It was a very tender steak and served with triple cooked chips and a classic watercress, grilled tomato and onion ring garnish. My seafood risotto from the TDH was creamy and packed full of prawns, mussels and squid. Concasse tomatoes added some colour too. Actually, it was very enjoyable and I would eat it again right now. Cambridge burnt cream featured on both dessert menus. The burnt cream was orginally made within the walls of Trinity College, Cambridge in the 1600's and sometimes called a Trinity burnt cream. It's the predecessor of the French creme brulee. I ordered one and it arrived with a proper glassy and crunchy top and a thick ... really thick custard underneath. Other puddings included a New York cheesecake, sticky toffee pudding and a brownie but catching our eye was a Knickerbocker Glory. Layered fruits and icecream and a very classy one too. In fact it was pretty damn perfect with thick raspberry coulis,whole fruit,layers of vanilla icecream and whipped fresh cream on top. My brulee spoon wasn't long enough to get to the bottom of the glass and Mr Suffolk Foodie wouldn't let go of his sundae spoon. Dammit! I won't take him out again.
- House Salad, simple, but excellent dressing
- Pistachio, macadamia and coconut crisps were served at the end of the meal
- Cambridge burnt cream
- Gavi by the glass....mmm
- Knickerbocker Glory
- Seafood risotto with garlic bread
- Smoked salmon, celeriac remoulade, microcress
- Lemon sorbet
- Ribeye steak, bearnaise, triple cooked chips, onion rings, grilled tomato, watercress
- Table d'hote menu
- The lovely team
We had an invitation a couple of weeks ago to review Giraffe in Bury St Edmunds, our local town and full of chain restaurants. We've worked our way through the chains over the years and find them pretty soul-less with below average and uninspiring food, so we weren't exactly jumping up and down at the thought of dinner. But we nipped into town on the evening of the Christmas Fair, took a look around the town, enjoyed a mulled wine on Angel Hill and then wandered over to that ugly Parkway. Once inside though, Giraffe is a very pleasant place with a newly painted tropical themed decor.
The menu is appealing and includes Global Mains, Burgers, Small Plates and Salads, pretty much covering all that is on trend in the fast and casual dining market at the moment. We quizzed Kate, our server, to find out if the food was really made in-house. Yes it is, with fresh ingredients used and prepared on site. I'm not convinced by the chicken potsticker dumplings that I tried but perhaps these come in ready made? But the home-made lemonade was as good as I have had out anywhere, while Johny Cakes tried classic Mojito's (note the plural...) which had a generous measure of Havana Club and were made from fresh limes and mint - not a mix.
Miso Lime grilled salmon was perfectly moist and the Wasabi fried rice a good wholegrain base for the fish. The side of seasonal veg also ticked the healthy box and was served with a nice parsley oil rather than butter. No homemade desserts Kate admitted, but I ordered the apple and passion fruit crumble and she remembered that this was actually made in-house. I didn't want the accompanying ice cream so asked for fresh cream and as none was available a dish of mascarpone was offered instead.
We thought that we would be in and out of Giraffe in an hour or so but we had got really comfortable; we were well looked after and were enjoying the food and the drinks so ended up being the last to leave. Sorry!
This year's SuffolkFoodie annual leave was taken on a 48 hour trip to see the best (and probably the most hyped) of the latest London eat-and-drinkeries. Starting at Taberno do Mercardo (via a really nice tea merchants on the way, and only minutes from Liverpool Street station) we had small pretty plates that featured tinned cold monkfish, runner bean 'fritters' on clam broth, cuttlefish with pigs trotters, drippingly soft cheese with toasted bread, prawn rissoles and the runniest custard tart. The waitress was as excited about the food as we were so even with just one glass each of house sparkling rose - shining like a citrine jewel - it was easy to spend half of our budget on the first meal.
Quail, grouse, venison, lambs kidneys, wild mushrooms, blackberries, damsons and figs...there's all sorts of delicious Autumn Gameyness on this menu. It declares its honourable local intentions by highlighting the relevant items with two stars for Wyken produced food and one star for those from either Norfolk or Suffolk. We had a friendly, interested and well-informed waitress to help us get to the nitty-gritty of the provenance and anyway we saw the fantastic fig trees on the way in and we know it's true; Wyken has a long and proven reputation. The hits of the meal were the grouse (not starred) served off the bone and as tender as any we have ever had, and the damson trifle (two stars). The meat eaters seemed more favoured tham vegetarians with bigger portions (we didn't all have the grouse - we shared...) and red cabbage on two of the dishes is a bit of a short cut in the kitchen. But for just under £50 a head for three courses, including an on-trend aperitif - Prosecco with Campari and bitters - and a glass of their excellent and award-winning wine, we were happy. As the farmer among us pointed out, why not provide that unctious, golden Hillfarm rapeseed oil to dip the bread in, instead of importing the olive, and then we will send all our Suffolk visitors here.
We went to Buxhall Coach House this week, it was fun trying to work out where to go in the dark... not much exterior lighting, so we seemed to land in what we hoped was a parking space, and found our way in by the candle lantern that was by the front door. Honor cooks and her mother, Sarah looks after the front of house, with the help of some shy young staff. This is not a pile-them-in and rush-them-out sort of restaurant, but has one sitting (everybody arrived at once on the night we were there) and service depends on the dish you have ordered; everything is prepared in-house. Their excellent menu makes ordering very difficult, and it took a while to decide. Honor is a fabulous chef and her abilty to work these flavours with a balance of ingredients, all of which were top quality, is a real art. There are only a handful of places that I could name in Suffolk where the food has a "wow" factor and this is one of them. My pictures are tagged so you can see what we ate but some dishes were wolfed down before we got a chance to take a photo!