Suffolk's far flung flavours

PUBLISHED: 15:12 22 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:02 20 February 2013

Pea soup with sausage, a Dutch favourite from The Compasses, Stansfield

Pea soup with sausage, a Dutch favourite from The Compasses, Stansfield

Ruth French goes on the trail of world cuisine in Suffolk

Ruth French goes on the trail of world cuisine in Suffolk

The British have always had a love affair with foreign food. The diverse flavours and exotic ingredients get us in the mood for our next holiday and help savour the memory of our last. Choose from this irresistible round-up or better still, try them all and work your way around the culinary globe without leaving Suffolk!


Mariners Restaurant, Waterfront, Ipswich

Originally a 19th century Belgian gunboat, Mariners is now an award-winning French brasserie restaurant with an impressive and authentic menu. Situated on Neptune Quay in the heart of the towns vibrant waterside development, the food is classic French, with a modern twist. Try the moules marinire or perhaps the rabbit liver parfait or maroille cheese tart. Portions are good and proprietor Regis Crepys charming staff are happy to accommodate any request including mouth-watering vegetarian options. Try their 36-hour-cooked roast belly of pork served with grain-mustard mash. Equally tempting is the grilled Aberdeen steak with Roquefort sauce and french fries. No one does desserts like the French so if amaretto crme brule, poached pears in red wine or tart Normandy dont inspire you then nothing will. An impressive wine list to include the perfect white Loire Sauvignon de Touraine La Noblette will render you in dining heaven. Just remember to leave room for the French cheeseboard and coffee!

Mariners, Neptune Quay, Ipswich, IP4 1AX (Closed Mondays)

Tel: 01473 289748


Compasses, Stansfield, Nr Sudbury

Nestling between Sudbury and Bury, Compasses offers an honest, hearty and traditional pub experience. Determined to keep it that way, landlord and chef Ron Van Straalen and his wife Jackie have furnished it in a comforting and rustic manner, making a conscious effort to avoid a themed or stylised interior.

Proudly cooking all dishes from scratch, Ron offers a range of world foods whilst specialising in his native Dutch cuisine. For my meal, he insisted I sample two of his starters. Ertwensoep Dutch pea soup, a gloriously thick dish containing slices of Rookworst, a delicious smoked Dutch sausage. Next was Dutch-Indonesian chicken salad, a mildly-spiced chilled dish with orange salad. Perfect as a spring/summer starter. For my main dish Ron chose me draadjies vlees beef rendered so tender by hours of slow cooking with sweet spices and caramelised onions that I could have swapped fork for spoon. Served with spiced red cabbage and a potato stampot. This consists of potatoes cooked in stock and mashed to which lettuce and wilted spinach are added.

A famous Dutch pudding finished my meal. Haagse bluf is a light and airy mousse containing fruit and pieces of cake. And in case youre wondering, the name refers to the Hague government and an amusing analogy with hot air! My wine was an elegant house ros that straddled all the dishes admirably. Rons meat comes from a quality Stansfield butcher, his fish is from Lowestoft and the mussels are fresh from Holland.

Compasses, High Street, Stansfield CO10 8LN.

Tel: 01284789486


The Star, Lidgate, Newmarket

A beautiful 400 year-old traditional inn, The Star can be found in the village of Lidgate, seven miles from Newmarket on the B1063. Inside this comforting, companionable building youll find owner Maria Theresa Axons warm and lively welcome. Theres a palpable buzz in here to match the colourful and tasty Catalan-inspired menu. I had previously tasted Marias delicious bean and chorizo stew so was happy to try something else. Baby squid with garlic and chilli hit the spot. It sets the taste buds alight without losing any of the delicate flavour of the squid. My evening visit with friends was informal and great fun and we managed to sample most of each others food whilst sticking to the Spanish menu even though there are a large number of other Mediterranean dishes to try. Theres also an impressive array of fine ales to choose from and some excellent wines to include my favourite Spanish Riojas. Great atmosphere thats enhanced with a group of friends. No food Sunday evenings.

The Star, The Street, Lidgate, Newmarket CB8 9PP. (Closed Mondays) Tel: 01638 500275


Infuse, Stowmarket

On the edge of the town and overlooking the River Gipping, this stylish and cosmopolitan restaurant serves freshly prepared Italian and continental dishes using local ingredients. Youll also find an impressive array of pizzas. Infuse have cleverly opted for many of the traditional dishes as well as some obscure ones such as antipasti or bruschetta for starters or the tasty melanzane which is aubergine and mozzarella baked with tomato sauce. Particularly wonderful is their spicy crayfish tagliatelli. For dessert try the chocolate soup, a dreamy, thick custard-like concoction served with amaretti biscuits or their wickedly-rich trio cheesecake. Choose a Bardolino wine, a lovely red from the Lake Garda region that goes well with all tomato and bread-based foods. No food on Sunday evenings.

Infuse, Wharfside House, Prentice road, Stowmarket IP14 1RD. (Closed Tuesdays) Tel: 01449 770401


Turkuaz, Newmarket

Moments away from the High Street, Turquaz is a particularly chic establishment offering genuine Turkish food along with attentive, jovial staff. Start with a mixed mezze or try borek, a filo pastry delight filled with feta cheese or perhaps arnavut, which is fried lambs liver served with an onion salad. For main meals, the Turkuaz excel with their mixed kebab platter of chicken, lamb and minced beef. Infused with cumin, cinnamon, parsley and mint, the dish is then charcoal-cooked to perfection. Dont forget to order vegetables either as the cuisine excels here. Try iman bayildi. It consists of deep-fried aubergine topped with various vegetables and rich tomato. Turkish food tastes broadly similar to Middle-Eastern and Cypriot fare, using as it does some familiar spices but it tastes tantalisingly different. A great place to come if you are vegetarian too as many dishes feature feta cheese, vegetables and vegetarian mince. Try manti, a tasty soya mince wrapped in tiny pasta parcels with tomato sauce and served with garlic yoghurt. Turkish sweets and puddings are rich but delicious.a little goes a long way. The well-known baklova is served here. Rich in honey and pistachio, the mixture is then wrapped in filo and deep-fried. Dont forget to try some Turkish wine too.

Either Buzbag red or the famous Doluca white. Both are good.

Turkuaz, 4-5 Crown Walk, Newmarket. CB8 8NG

Tel: 01638 668666


Aqua Eight, Ipswich

In the town centre yet tucked away from the high street, Aqua Eight is an ultra- stylish bar and restaurant featuring a fusion of the best in Chinese, Thai and Japanese food. Owners Vincent and Patrick and their wonderfully well-trained staff provide a personal welcome and the interesting and unusual installations and dcor deliver an ambience that makes you feel rather special too. Eat in the bar for spicy lunchtime nibbles and small eats and upstairs in the sophisticated London-inspired dining area for evening meals. I cant do the extensive menu justice here but Ill tell you what selection I was lucky enough to try. I had the unbelievably tasty black cod with miso, melt-in-the-mouth veal with xo sauce, an array of prawns and dipping sauces and a Thai-inspired aubergine, potato and physalis green curry. I hasten to add that Vincent courteously joined me in the feast although I freely admit to the larger portioned plate! Desserts are inspired too with delights such as banana filo and coconut ice-cream or mango pudding. Aqua Eight also feature a fantastic menu for vegetarians and all food is locally sourced. Impressive array of wines, beers spirits and cocktails.

An Oriental food delight.

Aqua Eight. 8 Lion Street, Ipswich. IP1 1DQ. (Closed Mondays)

Tel: 01473 218994

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