Food review: A family-friendly vibe, cool new look and good food at The Dog and Duck in Campsea Ashe
PUBLISHED: 18:00 23 March 2017
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis tries out a family meal at The Dog and Duck in Campsea Ashe, which was renovated at the end of 2016.
I had a great feeling as I stepped into this pub with my family last week. The dresser by the door was stacked with locally produced sauces. Behind the bar was a whole shelf of interesting snacks (including a ‘dog deli’). And, looking at the menu, the chef patron Tom Greening really does care about provenance and seasonality.
I spied heritage beets, January King Cabbage, blood orange, kale, rhubarb and purple sprouting on the menu – all ingredients tethered to spring.
To whet our appetites (over a game of cards – there’s a big selection of board games in the bar) we wolfed down the homemade onion seed-studded bread. Served with house-whipped butter, with a whiff of garlic to it, it was a lovely way to begin the evening.
My youngest tucked into a starter from the snack menu of chicken wings. They were simply enormous, and coated in a sticky (but not too sweet) barbecue sauce. Probably not the best choice for a nine-year-old (he got pretty darn mucky), but they were enjoyed.
Ella, our fish-loving 11-year-old, was silent as she chomped her way through a crisp batch of whitebait, giving them her seal of approval.
And hubby and I also went down the seafood route, picking garlic and chilli prawns with bread, and English muffin topped with haddock and leek mornay. The mornay was light, despite the inherent creaminess and richness of its smoky topping. Prawns could have done with a kick more chilli or garlic, but were cooked just-right.
We also shared our main courses. Special of the day was a chicken curry which, at £10, was such good value for the portion size. The bowl was packed with juicy chicken pieces, and we could tell the curry had been made in the proper way, with real spices and not a jar of acrid sauce. An undercurrent of heat was mellowed by cardamom. Even the kids liked this one.
The hake with patatas bravas, green sauce, aioli and kale was another enormous plate of food. Altogether it was a nicely balanced plate – the creaminess of the aioli and tang of the green sauce working well with the delicately-cooked fish. The potatoes had a nice slap of vinegar but needed a touch more heat (spice-wise).
I’m not sure what happened to the black pudding. It had a bit of an odd texture – like it had been grilled - so lost some of that oozing, moist crunch, which would have brought another element to the overall eating quality of the plate.
The kids had a burger. Ethan declared it one of the best he’s ever had. Enough said!
For dessert I’d spotted a chocolate and hazelnut praline tart on the specials board and that sealed the deal for me before I’d even sat down.
The pastry was brilliantly made. So crisp. A sensation that was enhanced by the brittle praline underneath its slick chocolate topping.
The boys shared blood orange cheesecake topped with blood orange gel. I’ve had a few blood orange desserts this season and haven’t found anywhere yet that’s managed to bring the flavour of the fruit through. But Tom had cracked it. This was a soft, creamy delight of a pud with real fragrance.
I had to admit I helped my daughter eat her way through a chocolate fondant (she is only a wee thing after all). Cutting into the centre, the pudding yielded beautifully, running molten chocolate lava across the plate. The chocolate flavour was very yum. And Ella really rated the blackcurrant ice cream served with it.
Some may think The Dog and Duck is trying too hard décor-wise. But we loved the pub’s interior, which is a riot of texture through its fabric and tactile wallpaper choices. Copper pots sit on a stove in the main dining room. Candles burn in old pottery bottles on the windowsills. Lights flicker in birdcages. The garden was pretty too.
A fair few real ales were represented at the bar. Hubby had Ghost Ship (his favourite) and I sipped on a glass of organic Running Duck rose, which was ripe with strawberries on the palate and nose, but not too sweet. The wine list was well-priced.
Behind the bar are lots of unusual and popular craft spirits.
If you can’t choose from the beers on tap, try one of the ‘taster’ boards of three sample sized brews for only £5!
The waitresses were very friendly and accommodating and couldn’t be faulted. They struck up a good rapport with the kids from the get-go.
As nicely decorated as the pub itself. I couldn’t help myself from stroking the wallpaper in the loos (it was so shiny)! And Ella was bowled over by the fact the sink in the ladies’ sat on top of a piece of oak saved from the Great Storm of the late 80s.
We found it hard to see where to park is it wasn’t signposted very well. From what we could tell the car park was to the left of the pub in what appeared to be a building site…
I think the prices were reasonable for the care taken in the cooking and the portion sizes. Our bill for four with drinks, bread, four starters, three mains and three puds was about £100.
The desserts, especially the fondant, which put a smile on my daughter and my faces after a pretty tiresome week.
If you’re looking for well-cooked food served in nice surroundings this could be the place for you. It’s easy to find, just off the A12 from the Wickham Market slip road (turn right at the top).
Find out more about The Dog and Duck here.
Have you read our review of Mariners in Ipswich?