I can’t remember a time when I’ve enjoyed an evening so much – great food, attentive service and a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere.
If you haven’t tried Ben’s in Bury St Edmunds, then it’s time you did – you won’t be disappointed. It does food without frippery – beautiful flavours created by sourcing quality local ingredients from independent Suffolk producers and suppliers.
It was a busy Saturday evening at the Churchgate Street eaterie when my partner and I were ushered to a window table with views of the beautifully lit cathedral and Norman Tower and given menus to peruse.
And this is where Ben’s has it right. There were six starters to choose from and eight mains – quality over quantity.
While my partner chose the Beetroot, Cumin and Coriander fritters, with citrus quinoa and garlic aoli (£6.50), I went for Ben’s Jacob Lamb Kofta Kebab, toasted flatbread, mixed leaves and mint yoghurt (£7).
The fritters were delicious and a sign of intent of what was to come. The cumin took a backseat as the beetroot came to the fore and the delicious quinoa added an extra twist to the flavour explosion. My kebab was a delight, the rich flavour of the lamb balance by the refreshing mint yoghurt.
Now my partner can be funny about chicken – he likes to know the provenance – but he needn’t have worried about his Breast of Sutton Hoo Chicken, parmentier potatoes, curly kale, roasted baby carrots and a wild mushroom, garlic and herb sauce (£17). It was supremely moist and copious, too. Carrots were crisp one end and perfectly firm the other, while the potatoes brought an added dimension.
I can’t resist blue cheese so my eye was immediately caught by the Mushroom, Leek and Blue Cheese Shortcrust Pie, with roasted baby potatoes, beetroot and winter greens, with an Aspall cider jus (£15). While blue cheese can dominate a dish, the flavours in this were perfectly balanced, allowing each ingredient its time to shine and the pastry was sublime – thin and crispy, not a soggy bottom in sight. (And I completely fell in love with the miniature sauce boat.)
One of the things that made this evening so pleasant and relaxed was the fact we were not at all rushed. There was a nice time between courses to sit back, relax and enjoy each other’s company.
But there was one small disappointment to come. When the dessert menu came I couldn’t have been happier – two of may most favourite things combined into one – a Rhubarb Bread and Butter Pudding – only to be told there was none left. I needn’t have worried, the Apple, Pear and Mulled Cider Cobbler, vanilla ice cream and toasted almonds (£6.50) more than compensated, with the slight tartness of the apple in harmony with the sweetness of the ice cream and the crunch of the almonds adding texture to the dish.
On the other side of the table, the ‘special’ was a Lemon Cake with Chantilly Cream and Fruit Compote (£6.50) and it wasn’t touching the sides. It was light, and the sauce cut through any citrus backnotes superbly.
With great food beautifully presented, a welcoming relaxed atmosphere and impeccable service, I can’t wait for a return visit.
Ben’s, Churchgate Street, Bury St Edmunds. Call 01284 762119 or visit bensrestaurant.co.uk