Lights, cameras, food, on Ipswich's Waterfront
PUBLISHED: 16:05 13 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:09 20 February 2013
There's more than a touch of theatre to a night out at Ipswich's latest dockside eaterie. But it's the fantastic food that will make you return time and again, says Mark David
And now to the food! Max describes the theme as modern British and the menus offer a good but not overwhelming choice. I had trouble deciding what to eat because the dish descriptions are so tempting!
How can you resist sticky pomegranate-glazed quail, carrot and ginger salad or breast of duck served pink with carrot and star anise puree, jasmine rice, honey lime and ginger sauce? I chose seared scallops, watercress salad, chilli jam and crme frache to start. It came as a generous portion, with perfectly cooked scallops (literally introduced to the pan!), simple squeaky watercress salad and a home-made chilli jam, sweet and punchy, just right!
I followed with fillet of fresh bass sitting on a bed of noodles, snake beans and prawn dumplings, all in a chilli, ginger and coriander broth. I chose both these dishes deliberately as both are difficult to get right. I couldnt fault either.
The bass was juicy and tender, the prawn dumplings simple and bite-size, the broth superb, setting off the bass with a subtle but distinctive flavour. This dish was a brilliant example of low-fat without being boring!
Although the oriental theme is obvious I still think Modern British is a good description of the food. It encompasses Fusion cooking honestly and practically.
I finished with rhubarb soup with ginger pannacotta a light, set ginger cream tower surrounded by a moat of simple pured rhubarb, sweet but not overly so.
You may have noticed that I didnt have any meat. I am a carnivore through and through but I chose fish because a good friend of mine has had the Aberdeen Angus sirloin twice recently at the Quayside and given it 10 stars! Thats good enough for me!
Other delights include smoked haddock cassoulet; organic smoked salmon crabcake with beetroot and vanilla dressing; rump of lamb with watercress and rosemary sauce and much more.
The desserts include peanut butter parfait, chocolate mousse and mixed berry jelly; banana Eton Mess and rosewater crme brule with an artisan cheese offering as well. Local ingredients are important to Stephen and he sources them when possible. By the way, all the bread offered here is home-made on site and superb!
Although I chose from the a la carte, Stephen offers a daily lunch menu comprising some of the dishes from the main menu along with lunchy additions such as sandwiches, salads, ham, egg and chips, grilled mushrooms on toast, the same dessert choice and some special such as catch of the day, plus a daily changing soup flashed up on the moving mural!
Children are not neglected here, I noticed some high chairs ready for an invasion and a simple child-friendly menu choice.
Wines well-selected and balanced are chosen by Max in conjunction with Enotria. Sensibly priced from 12.50 per bottle, (most under 20), there is also a really good selection of wines by the glass made possible by a clever vacuuming device which removes air from an open bottle (including champagne). I had a lovely pinot grigio blush fruity, light and just right with the fish. Others that caught my eye were Mullygrubber Semillon Chardonnay from Oz at 16 the bottle, Prosecco at 19 the bottle, and a Stormy Cape Shiraz Red from South Africa.
Incidentally for all you on the hoof internet users, there is free WiFi here.
Get down to The Quayside to eat drink, gossip or just relax, I didnt want to leave.
Starters between 2.50-7.50
Most main courses between 10-12 and 15. ALL lunch dishes under 10.
Average price for lunch (main and dessert) for two including two large glasses of wine, 38
Dish of the day including a glass of wine 10.
It's a waterfront wonder!
I have visited The Quayside Bar and Restaurant twice since its recent opening in late 2009, once for a quick snack lunch and once for a quick drink. I warmed to it straightaway for several reasons.
You walk into a film set with stage lights adorning the high ceiling, vast plate glass windows partially overlooking the harbour, an inviting balcony (Upper Circle!), with intimate, softly-lit tables and cosy private dining area and a clever moving picture of the harbour and passing traffic projected on to a large wall.
And you can sense immediately that it is not just another chain/theme establishment. It is a genuine one-off.
I nearly forgot to mention the magnificent roll of honour just inside the front door, a huge list of those who bravely fought in two world wars. Owner Max Moussa tells me he rescued it from the site managers office when he took over the building. I had to get it up on the wall, it seemed to belong, he says. I also rescued an old winch and decided to feature it in the restaurant, as I thought it right not to forget what these waterfront buildings used to be, part of our trading heritage.
Before I talk about food, I want to introduce you to Max, a vigorous, lively, passionate entrepreneur who hails from Manchester, where he helped his mum run a successful AA rosetted and Michelin-starred hotel and restaurant.
His mum decided to sell up and take it easier and Max decided to move east and be nearer relatives in Martlesham. With a child on the way he thought he ought to get a day job and plumped for the post of restaurant manager at the renowned Seckford Hall where he remained for several years.
I loved it there, says Max. But my feet began to itch and I wanted to do my own thing. It must be in my blood!
After a few false starts and one or two deals falling through, he went to look at an existing business in Woodbridge, which was to be his first project in the area, a lovely caf/light lunch, daytime establishment.
I changed a few things there, ran it for a while, decided to leave the day-to-day running to my marvellous team there and then started looking around for something else. The unusual Key Street site came up and he and a designer friend, Tony Mather, with whom he had been working on other projects, got together to create something very different.
We both quickly decided that our vision could be realised here within the budget and quickly, says Max. The moving mural of the harbour was done by Tony Mathers son and must be unique!
Like anyone setting up a new business, Max has gathered a strong team around him. Head chef is Stephen Carrick, with whom he worked for a number of years at Seckford Hall.
Stephen and I are on the same wavelength, says Max. Like me he is passionate about good food and wants to share the passion!
The front of house is run by a young team with a bar manager and restaurant manager. The bar is the face of the place, bright and bustling with comfy informal seating nearby as well as eating tables. At weekends, the licensing hours are extended to 1am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday with occasional live music.