Sometimes we're invited to review products or places and you'll find these sponsored blog posts here. We don't take bribes, unless it's Veuve Clicquot, and if we don't like what we sample then we don't write about it ... so please, no more instant noodles through the letter box. Check out what else and where else we've been eating (for the past 10 years) on Our Blog.
Here's a very tasty Christmas party menu for you instead of the usual soggy sprouts and insipid catering quality turkey. The Giggling Squid in Bury St Edmunds invited me to try their Christmas menu last week so I went on the opening 'locals night' of the massive annual Christmas Market and Fayre. Feeling all festive and with the town buzzing, the restaurant was full to the brim. I took Mr SuffolkFoodie who loves Thai food and we both ate off the Christmas Evening menu, which priced at £29.95 a head including a glass of Prosecco is great value. By the way, where is all this Prosecco coming from, apparently us Brits drink a third of all produced. I hope it's not going to run out.
- Bags of gold ...crispy spiced chicken parcels
- Prawn satay ... I could just eat the peanut sauce by itself
- Beef rib Massaman ... the highlight of the meal
- Exotic mushrooms ... garlicky and chilli hot
- Prosecco and muddled berry cheesecake
- Molten honeycomb semi-freddo
An invitation to review Giraffe in Bury St Edmunds solved my Wednesday night supper dilemma last week. It's in a part of town that I don't really go to, by the muliplex cinema. I prefer the Abbeygate Cinema with its' arty films and live streamed National Theatre performances. Anyway, I digress ... Giraffe was extremely quiet and to be honest a little chilly but Ben and Lauren who were serving kept it lively and upbeat and chatted to us, providing a great, without being overbearing, service. Well done to them, because it's hard when you are working in a quiet restaurant to keep some pace going. I'd taken Mr SuffolkFoodie so I thought that a steak would be inevitable; he always hones in on meat, being a South African. I actually think South African food will trend at some point soon, so was hoping that the menu might reflect this part of the world, especially with a name like Giraffe, but no Bunny Chow on this occasion. Mr SF chose a Chilli Beef Burrito, which he enjoyed. I had the Lamb Tagine which was a very generous portion and not shy with the meat. It arrived with some ceremony as the lid of the tagine was lifted, tah dah, revealing the dish scattered with tasty pistachios and pomegranate seeds. The blend of meat, spice and apricot was excellent, with a great depth of flavour and assured by Ben, had been made in house. For pudding, as I always enjoy something sharp and fruity, I went for the best option which was a white chocolate and passion fruit cheesecake. I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived with a fresh passion fruit drizzled across the top and not a smear of coulis in sight. A good meal, and definitely worth taking a look at if you want to take children out for a meal (kids eat free) or want a good breakfast before noon. I've been hearing good things about their £5 breakfast deal.
I'm loving the green chilli sauce that Buckshot sauces sent me. It's slightly astringent with lots of ginger and cumin and I am pouring it over everything! I can't eat a samosa without it. Maybe I am addicted. (We really liked the brown sauce too).
It's lovely to see a children's menu with mini portions from the main menu and not a breadcrumb, nugget or chip in sight. The Giggling Squid asked me to review their new children's menu which includes a selection of mild curries, finger food, noodles and rice dishes designed especially with "little people" in mind. I found a couple of little people (thank you Grace and Logan) and took them out for supper at the Bury St Edmunds branch. For £5.95 children get to choose two dishes each which come with free plain or sticky rice. Logan, who declared fussy eater status on arrival went for the Grilled Pork Skewers and Chicken Fried Rice, having first tucked into a bowl of the spicy prawn crackers. Grace with a more adventurous and self assured palate chose Spring Rolls and a Pad Thai with Prawns, which she declared as yummy. Sadly the roti pancakes were not available for pudding (an extra £2.00) but the icecream was, and arrived with some colourful slices of fresh fruit on the side. Portions are very generous, in fact possibly too large for smaller children, but parents can always help out!
- add prawn crackers for £2
- crayons and a colouring competition
- Grace chose Spring Rolls, Pad Thai Noodles with Prawns and Sticky Rice
- Logan chose Grilled Pork on Skewers, Chicken Fried Rice and Plain Rice
- add pudding for £2, ice cream comes with fresh fruit slices
- the restaurant
Why are all the decent pubs I've been to recently near Woodbridge? Last week I took Mr SuffolkFoodie to The Turks Head for a late Sunday lunch, as I'd been invited by Jemima the owner. Jemima was actually away on holiday, so I was sorry not to meet her. Still, I admire an owner who offers a review meal and shows such enormous confidence in the staff ... and the staff were brilliant, all quite clearly trained in their roles, and friendly, without hovering or being stifling. The Turks Head is a family and dog friendly gastropub with the Hasketon countryside providing some great local walks. (Handy PDF downloads for 11 guided walks are provided on the website). Even at 5pm, on an early April evening, the terrace was busy with families who looked as though they were stopping for mid walk refreshments. There's also a proper pentanque pitch, which has been added to my list of 'must investigate further, it could be fun' activities. The Sunday lunch is a set menu of 2 courses for £19 or 3 courses £24. I was hoping to try the Gressingham duck steamed dumplings which apparantly are a favourite of the regulars, but they had eaten them all, and so the replacement dish was an oriental duck salad with hoisin, which came garnished with wafer thin hot and piquant pickled ginger. A Caesar style, wild turbot salad had crunchy homemade croutons, whole anchovy fritters and with a very generous amount of wild turbot soldiers, a novel and very good take on the classic version. Spotted also on the menu was a foraged nettle soup which sounded tempting. The head chef, Mauri is a classically French trained chef who was born in India and has worked in many high profile establishments, the menu reflecting his eclectic range of cooking styles from around the globe. The highlight dish of our lunch undoubtedly being a local venison bhuna masala with rice, papad and raita. It is probably the best curry I've had between Southall and Leicester with powerful spicing providing the punch required of a great curry. Tender, pink roast sirloin of beef was topped by an impressive and very large Yorkshire pudding and was served with side dishes of tomatoey ratatouille, roasted carrots, celeriac and a cauliflower cheese. We finished with a banoffee pie (Birdy our delightful waitress telling us that the customers had petitioned when the pudding had been removed from the menu, so now reinstated) and Hamish Johnston selected British cheeses, which included a Perl Las, a Godminster organic Cheddar and Ellingham goats cheese. Behind the bar is a great range of local cask ales and my favourite Aspalls cyder and notably an excellent range of interesting soft drinks for the driver. There are three sittings for Sunday lunch starting at 12 midday with the last sitting at 5pm.
- Dogs are welcome
- Oriental duck salad with hoisin
- Caesar style wild turbot salad, croutons, anchovies
- Roast sirloin of Suffolk beef, Yorkshire oudding, red wine gravy with lovely seasonal vegetables
- Local venison bhuna masala, rice, papad, raita
- Banoffee pie, toffee sauce, caramelised banana
- British cheeses from Hamish Johnston
- Families are welcome
- the dining room
We were thrilled to receive this parcel in the post; a selection of cheeses from The Fine Cheese Co. Delighted also that we were sent a selection to review called Sisters in Cheese, a one off selection created especially with Mothers Day in mind - the three cheeses recognising women's roles as cheese-makers down the ages, and a tribute to today's 'dairymaids'. A very appropriate range in time for our own Mothers Day lunch where my three daughters thought that it meant a cheese each! We're all cheese lovers in my house and considering that all three daughters worked for me at some point waitressing in my restaurant where only English cheeses were served they've had to learn their stuff, so I didn't mind sharing.
The selection included a Sharpham Brie which is a raw, Jersey cow's milk cheese made in Devon on the Sharpham Estate. Rich, delicate and creamy with an unctuous texture. The cheesemaker is Debbie Mundford.
A baby Curworthy, a pasteurised cow's milk cheese dating back to the 17th century, and thought to be even older than Cheddar. Smooth, firm and mellow with a creamy flavour and made by Rachel Stevens.
Wigmore, a raw, Ewe's milk cheese with a gentle, delicate flavour and made in Berkshire by Anne Wigmore.
The Fine Cheese Co is based in Bath, with a branch also in London just around the corner from Harvey Nicks. If you are unable to visit then the online selections and cheese gifts are very tempting with a frequently changing cornucopia of cheeses to choose from. I even spotted our own Suffolk produced Baron Brigod. My parcel arrived in great shape, with ice pack keeping it cool and the cheese all in perfect shape. A handy caring for your cheese and cheese etiquette leaflet included too.
- well packaged including an ice pack to keep cool
- cheese and fridge etiquette
- unwrapped and bringing to room temperature
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
As I was so well behaved at the opening night of Giggling Squid I was invited back to review dinner. I took Scarlett who has been to Thailand, travelling extensively and returning with tales of delicious food. Bury St Edmunds folk are always very good at supporting new restaurants and four weeks on from opening it was packed on a Thursday night. It got a big thumbs up from both of us both for food, service and atmosphere. We sat at the back of the restaurant by the bookshelves which are full of second hand books so between courses we got stuck in to a little reading...
- Caramelised Mango Cake £4.95
- Moo Ping £6.50
- Seafood Streetfood £7.50
- Mint and Lychee Sorbet £4.95
- Squid Gra Pao £14.50
- Tamarind Duck £14.50
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
Check out the new Kitchen Club Masterclasses at The Suffolk Food Hall! I took part in a game masterclass last week which was enormous fun. As well as being informal and informative I made five new foodie friends. I am glad that I arrived hungry because we were served coffee and croissants while we listened to the enthusiastic Food Hall team telling us about the Broxstead Estate produce. The provenance of the ingredients supplied for the days cooking, and used on site is incredible, with as much as possible sourced from the farm. Mikey from the butchery gave a great demo on preparing a pheasant. De-boning, rolling and tying up ready for the oven.Then it was up to us to practice what we had learnt and to remove the breasts off our birds to make our own Pheasant Kievs. Head Chef Steve Robson was on hand throughout the day to talk through the recipes and share his expert knowledge and tips. We made our own garlic butter to stuff the Kievs and were also taught the technique to confit the legs of the pheasants and confit a beautifully carved (by ourselves) piece of potato. Steve kept us busy as we went on to prepare a Red Onion Tart Tatin. This was a carefully thought out menu, perfectly timed, because after two hours of chopping, rolling and stirring we got to take our finished dishes up to the restaurant and enjoy a leisurely lunch. Time to chat, ask Steve questions and swap notes with each other. There was far too much to eat in one sitting, so leftovers are boxed up to take home to enjoy later. More coffee, then back to the kitchen (which had been tidied in our absence) then on to work on our dessert recipe which was a Chocolate Fondant with Blackberry Compote. By the afternoon we were really getting in to it and enjoyed the challenge of spicing up our own blackberry compote and seeing who could get the perfect gooey middle to their pudding. Puddings were revealed at 3.30pm, with lots of oohs and aahhs, as we went back up to the restaurant to enjoy our astonishingly perfect puddings and more coffee. A great day out, with absolutely everything provided including a fact sheet, recipes and I hear a little gift to be added too! Masterclasses cost £75 per person with a very generous discount if you book all four in advance.
- The Masterclass team
- Mikey the butcher
- Duck fat for confit
- Pheasant legs ready to confit
- Making tarte tatin
- garlic butter
- Head Chef Steve
- Simmering confit potato
- Chocolate fondant from the oven
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!
We were invited to attend this lovely town's annual event this year as the official bloggers and spent the morning queueing to sample some of the best bangers this part of Suffolk has to offer. The only problem with inviting bloggers and tweeters is that you need a strong fast signal - and as we know Suffolk seems to have some of the worst in the country.
Bang on the toast trend, we are excited about this new company called The Cheese Postie. For a £3.99 a week subscription, a DIY savoury or sweet toasted cheese sandwich will drop through your letterbox. The ready to assemble ingredients will include quality artisan bread (including gluten free) the filling and a toasting bag.
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.