Is this the best pub in Ipswich? An astonishing range of craft beers from around the world, a beer sommelier, gorgeous gins, street food on a Friday and the friendliest staff.
Yis' day on my visit to The Cookhouse at The Suffolk Food Hall for lunch, I had the chance to chat to owner Oliver Paul, who jointly runs the business with his cousin Robert. This is diversification on a hooge scale, with former cattle rearing units and silage clamps converted into a massive food hall, garden centre and cookhouse. There are commercial food production units complete with ice cream parlour and a large play area for kids with beautiful views across to the River Orwell. This is the kind of place you can wander for hours, with one area leading you into the next and something new round every corner. The provenance of this food doesn't get much better. Keeping it on the family farms with milk-fed pork, game, carrots, potatoes and onions coming from Broxtead while the Freston farm provides the Red Poll beef. The butcher in the food hall even sends the chicken carcasses to Steve Robson, the head chef (and our new Dish of the Day) to make stock. Nothing is wasted.
I ate a starter of lemon and herb hummus with flatbread and olives, chosen from the Summer Set Menu (2 courses £15.50/3courses £19.00 and hooly good value). Then I chose the Deben mussels which are from local supplier Simpers of Suffolk. Last time I tried their mussels I thought they were on the small size, but these were plump and succulent, although a bit hard going served with two thick doorsteps of bread and chips. There isn't a commercial deep fat fryer? They must be soft in the hid, I thought, but these homemade chips were great. I'm a fan of bite size desserts because you can pretend that you are aren't eating so much, so I pretended that I wasn't eating very much and chose 'A couple o' three'. A properly made mini apple and elderflower turnover, a slice of summer puddin' and - best on the plate - raspberry and balsamic sorbet. A roight old Suffolk feast.
Is there a better way to spend a lazy afternoon than sitting and enjoying a Luxury Afternoon Tea, overlooking Neptune Marina and from the comfort of the chic Salthouse Harbour Hotel? Myself and a carefully selected afternoon tea aficionado arrived to a warm welcome from Hollie. The champers arrived first - Dom Ruinart (from the oldest Champagne house in France) We chose English Breakfast from the selection of 10 loose-leaf teas and tucked straight into a good home made sausage roll; egg mayonnaise sandwiches that were well seasoned and freshly cut, cheese scones filled with cream cheese and tomatoes were the big boys on the block and an open smoked salmon sandwich was colourful and delicately topped with a frond of fresh dill. Up a layer on the vibrant bue and rather wobbly cake stand to the sweet section. Favourites here were the mini chocolate éclairs, light, bursting with fresh cream and drizzled with chocolate. Macarons were a delicate yellow and filled with a zingy lemon curd. A fruit tartlet not mentioned on the menu was colourful with sliced strawberries, raspberry and kiwi fruit on a crème patissiere. Oh the calories! Deep breath, a little rest, the teapot topped up.
The next round included the soft creamy cupcake - we were divided on opinion, I said a little boring, companion said light and deliciously vanilla flavoured. There was flapjack and a chocoholics delight of rich, dark chocolate mousse on a crunchy biscuit base. We still had the scones to go! Whilst having a breather we discussed whether the clotted cream or the jam should go on first. These were excellent freshly baked scones, served warm, soft crumb in the middle and crisp crust. We cut them in half and tried it the Cornish way - jam on top - and then the Devon way - cream on top. Either way the afternoon tea was excellent.
From 8th - 22nd May visit Ipswich and take part in the Food and Drink Forknight, celebrating all that’s good and great in the local food scene. There should be something to tickle your tastebuds. Try the very special Afternoon Tea at The Salthouse Harbour Hotel. Read all about our visit on the Ipswich Central website and check out the special offer during the Forknight.
Shortlisted in the Farming Partnership of the Year category at the British Farming Awards is the East of England Co-operative Society "Sourced Locally" initiative. Since launching in 2007 Sourced Locally has been helping local farmers and rural businesses build a more sustainable future. Check out our Dish of the Day to meet the producers. Check out one of the 250 Co-op stores in the regional centres of Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester to buy the goods.
If you enjoy a glass of wine and want to learn more about the fascinating subject whilst enjoying a sip or two then try a Laithwaite's Wine Evening. I was excited to be invited to the Ipswich event last week and to hear that there were going to be 36 wines to taste. 11 tables showcased a range of wines from the across the world and the evening proved to be a fun and really good entry level wine tasting, with helpful notes on how to taste wine and even some producers and wine buyers to chat to. My highlight of the night was chatting to Christine Weingut, Laithwaite's German wine buyer. Obviously passionate about her job, each wine on her German and Austrian table had an interesting story behind it. So I came away with an order for Moselgold Riesling aus Steillagen Trocken 2012 from the steep, slate slopes of the Mosel and produced by a chap called Achim. Achim follows the family tradition started by his grandparents of creating the wine entirely himself from the grape to the bottle, in his garage.
All Manor of Events in Henley, outside Ipswich, are holding Christmas in Oz themed parties. This is a really original place to go for the staff Christmas party. Each year the theme is different and we really enjoyed the chance to spend the evening in Oz. The food was very good ( Christmas menu ) and the decor brilliant.
Meet Malcolm our October Dish of the Day - you can just see him at the back! Malcolm is one of the bakers at The Suffolk Food Hall. Their display of homemade artisan breads and baked goods is very impressive and so is the view from the Cookhouse Restaurant window.