Where I ate:
The Brewery Tap, Cliff Road, Ipswich
Situated close to the docks, The Brewery Tap is a gastropub with its own brewery. It’s sort of in the middle of nowhere, but you can’t miss it once you do find it – the pastel pink exterior is unmissable, even if it could do with a wash. At this point, I was sold. Not that I saw any, but there are even chickens, ducks, quails and guinea fowl on the premises – and real ale lovers are in for a treat as kegs can be purchased in bulk (18, 36 or 72 pints).
I’m glad we booked a table as the two restaurant areas are quite small and midway through the meal, a group who had initially popped in for a drink, were unable to get a table as they were all taken or reserved. The place had a real country feel, with its dimmed lighting, roaring fire (which wasn’t lit) and old wooden beams. It’s the perfect place to simply enjoy a drink en route to the docks, but the food was also very good – more about that in a bit.
There was a dining area by the entrance, which had a lot more natural lighting, but we sat towards the far end of the bar, in the corner. It was a little bit pokey, but more cosy than cramped or uncomfortable. Candlelight was needed as there was no natural lighting and a couple of the lamps weren’t bright at all. Everything was really rustic – from the tables and chairs, to the old fashioned glass bottles on display.
Cod and chips with mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce, followed by strawberry and custard frangipane tart
I’d heard good things about the fish and chips and being so close the river, there was no excuses for it to be anything but fresh and of good quality. I wasn’t disappointed and would definitely recommend it – one of the best fish and chips I’ve had and I’ve been to a number of excellent places. The piece of cod was huge and chunky, probably enough for two, while the batter was crisp and light – not at all greasy. I really enjoyed the chips as well, proper thick cut chips, perfect for dunking into the homemade ketchup. It was almost like a relish or chutney, slightly sweet and tangy. The tartare – which I’m not usually a fan of – was very good too, not too vinegary and I enjoyed the mushy peas, particularly with added lemon. I washed it all down with a large glass of Pinot Grigio, which complemented the meal well.
Dessert was a tough choice as soon as I saw the menu, I wanted the tarte tatin. On second observation of the menu, I had a look at the other options and was drawn to the strawberry and custard frangipane tart, which I eventually went for. On reflection, I wish I had gone with my gut feeling. The tart was nice, but a little dry – luckily the plate was laced with pureed strawberry. I was expecting a lot more custard as well.
The service started off well, but as soon as the bar started to get busier, the restaurant service suffered a bit. On the whole, it was a good evening, with good food so I don’t have any complaints. And I’d definitely return – I’m already anticipating summer, so I can sit out in the garden with a doorstep sandwich and glass of Pimm’s or fruit cider!