A fine taste of Suffolk at Pea Porridge

PUBLISHED: 15:39 22 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:02 20 February 2013

A fine taste of Suffolk at Pea Porridge

A fine taste of Suffolk at Pea Porridge

With a clutch of prestigious accolades to its name, it's no surprise that more and more Suffolk foodies are finding their way to this cosy restaurant

With a clutch of prestigious accolades to its name, it's no surprise that more and more Suffolk foodies are finding their way to this cosy restaurant

If there is one new (or new-ish) restaurant worth seeking out at the moment its Pea Porridge. This cosy venue tucked away in the back streets of Bury St Edmunds has just been rated as the best UK newcomer 2011 in the Hardens UK Restaurant Guide as well as earning a Michelin Bib Gourmand. The latter is awarded to establishments offering good quality cuisine for under 28 (the price for a three course meal).

Owners Justin and Jurga Sharp are naturally delighted with both awards. "To receive a Bib Gourmand after just a year, its just the pinnacle really," says Justin.

"Wed like to thank our regular customers for their support and helping us get recognised in the Hardens Guide." (read more about the awards on page 68.)

He describes his food as; "rustic bistro with fresh ideas. I like an element of suspense for potential customers!," he says.

"I like to use seasonal ingredients and cook instinctively. I dont like forcing flavours together. Our food is rugged, bold with hearty flavours. I like to give a helping hand to ingredients and present them with the minimum of fuss. We want people to come and eat and enjoy themselves in a relaxed atmosphere, its not formal.

"We are not shy, or afraid, to use lesser known or forgotten cuts, with a strong emphasis on game in winter months. In summer expect to see lobster with real chips and garlic butter."

Anyone perusing the menu will no doubt add the word imaginative to Justins culinary CV. Take these examples from the great value lunchtime menu - "Widgeon breast, pomegranate, majoram, walnuts and sweet potato or the very popular Saute of snails and bacon, bone marrow, garlic butter, flat parsley and capers." Lunchtime prices are 5.95 for starters and mains 10.95.

"We are getting a name for blending unusual things together but I like to use all cuts of meat and capture the flavours of the season. Bone marrow has always been popular and watch out for braised pig cheeks, they are going to be this years pork belly, " says Justin with a wry smile. "We try and use local ingredients but I dont go with this view that everything has to be from Suffolk you cant get all your produce from the county and I think quality should be top of the list."

He tells me about his love for Monks Beard, a whispy samphire-like crop from Italy which he can sometimes get from a supplier. Here is a chef alert to all sorts of wonderful new and well-loved flavours.

An Aberdonian Justin, 34, trained in Scotland before moving to Wales and then London to further his career. He met his Lithuanian wife Jurga, also 34, along the way and after a spell running a restaurant in Hertfordshire their search to find a place of their own brought them to west Suffolk. "From the minute we stepped inside we loved the rustic charm of this former bakery. We liked the town and neighbourhood too, " says Justin. "We have given it some TLC and have been able to obtain some black and white photographs of when it was a bakery."

To complement the food there is a small, carefully sourced wine list focusing on artisan producers from the Old World.

Visit Pea Porridge for the highly original food (theres a midweek dinner menu of two courses for 11.95 or three courses for 15.95.) but it can get busy so best to book early. The name comes from Pea Porridge Green, on which the restaurant is situated.

Pea Porridge, 28-29 Cannon Street, Bury St Edmunds, IP33 IJR.

Tel: 01284 700200. www.peaporridge.co.uk

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