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Restaurant review: Mariners 1900, Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 10:54 22 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:02 23 January 2019

Sea bass at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: Archant

Sea bass at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: Archant

Archant

Emily Cotton dines at the elegant French brasserie moored at Ipswich marina.

Satay chicken at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: ArchantSatay chicken at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: Archant

Food

When looking over the menu at any restaurant, I like to have a snoop around at what people on tables near to me are eating to help me decide what I want to order myself. I’m sure my boyfriend Ryan does the same – mainly because I almost always point out to him what looks good. I’d initially eyed up the smoked haddock and applewood cheese fishcake, poached egg and hollandaise sauce starter I’d seen on the table next to me, but knowing I wanted fish for mains, I opted for the chicken satay dish to begin.

The homemade satay chicken was served with a risotto mozzarella ball and, placed on the side of the wooden board, naan bread. The satay chicken I’m used to seeing usually comes on skewers with either the satay sauce drizzled on top or in a small dipping bowl to the side; I was expecting it to look a little more presented than this however, and it was. The chicken, cut into small pieces, was in a small bowl with the sauce, and was chunky, thick and creamy with sliced peanuts part of the dish too. I was happy bread was included with the dish as, after all the chicken was eaten, the naan was the perfect tool to aid me in finishing off the rest of the sauce.

King scallops at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: ArchantKing scallops at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: Archant

To start, Ryan ordered the king scallops with parsnip puree, smoked duck and sweet chilli. The scallops were sweet, buttery, and delicate, while the duck was more of a duck jerky; of which the toughness complemented the smooth scallops.

For mains, I chose the pan fried fillet of seabass served with samphire, parsnip puree and crushed new potatoes. The fish was soft to cut through, falling apart at the slightest touch of my fork, while the skin underneath was beautifully crispy. I can’t say I’ve ever tasted samphire before – I’ve never cooked it myself anyway – but the vibrant green stalks had a distinctively crisp and salty taste which was complementary alongside the buttery crushed new potatoes that sat underneath.

Ryan chose the slow cooked belly of pork served with mash potatoes, apple compote, carrot cumin puree crackling and black pudding Scotch egg for his main course. You can never really go wrong ordering pork belly, but the unexpected highlight of the dish for Ryan was the carrot cumin purée. A new taste which he believed added a lighter touch to the meat heavy dish. He also said that he understood why the pork belly was served with a homemade black pudding scotch egg, but the meal would have been enough without it; he finished the main but only managed half of the Scotch egg.

For dessert, I (obviously) chose the only chocolate option on the menu – the chocolate brownie served with crème anglaise and maple ice cream. And I am very glad I did. This brownie has to be the best brownie I have ever eaten. Rich and gooey on the inside with a slightly crispier outer layer, it was melt in the mouth – literally!

Pork belly, potatoes and veg at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: ArchantPork belly, potatoes and veg at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: Archant

Ryan chose the – very generously sized – baked vanilla cheesecake with berry compote and vanilla ice cream for dessert. The cheesecake was creamy and slightly sweet, with a biscuit base that was neither too hard nor too soft when trying to break – it had to be delicious as despite being full after his main, Ryan’s dessert plate was finished entirely. His only criticism however was that the ice cream was a little too hard to put his spoon through. Serving with a slightly softer scoop of ice cream on top of the dessert would mean the cheesecake wouldn’t end up squished when trying to put a spoon through the two at the same time.

Drinks

Mariners 1900 has an extensive wine list with red, white and rose bottles from across the globe. As well as stating where the wine originates from, the menu also includes a short description of each explaining its taste and which meats it pairs best with. A few of the bottles also state that they are vegan, which may be especially handy for diners with specific dietary requirements. The main food menu also lists two ‘wines of the week’, which to me suggests that the restaurant is proactive in keeping on top of any changing trends and is keen to offer diners the best. As well as a wine list, there are also a number of other alcoholic drinks behind the bar and a soft drinks menu too. At the end of our meal, we were also offered tea and coffee of which they had a selection.

Chocolate brownie at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: ArchantChocolate brownie at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: Archant

Service

As soon as you arrive at Mariners, you know your experience is going to be second to none. A staff member welcomed us as soon as we were on the boat and was prompt in offering to take our coats and hang them up in the cloak room before showing us to our table. A waitress took our order for drinks first, and returned shortly after to ask what we wanted for starters and mains, giving is plenty of time to choose. Throughout our dinner, waitresses checked on us multiple times and were efficient at cleaning away plates and asking if there was anything else we required. Every member of staff we encountered was welcoming, friendly and more than happy to help.

Ambiance

The French brasserie is situated on a 100 year old Dutch ship and this is definitely part of its appeal. With dimmed lighting and soft music playing in the background, the atmosphere on the boat is the perfect accompaniment to the classic Gallic cuisine you are served. Attention to detail is obvious in the restaurant’s interior too, with vintage French themed artworks on the wall. Overall, the whole setting is beautiful, especially in the evening when the waterfront outside is lit up too.

Cheesecake at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: ArchantCheesecake at Mariners 1900 PICTURE: Archant

Price

For a three course meal for two and a bottle of wine, the meal came to £81 which for the exceptional quality of food and service we received, we were happy to pay. I understand this may be a pricey meal for some people, however I think it is pretty much spot on for the fine dining experience you would likely have only on birthdays, anniversaries or special occasions. To sum it up, starters were priced between £6 and £9.50, while most mains were between £11 (for the veggie meal on offer) and £18. Two mains were a little bit more; the ribeye steak and the beef wellington but this is obviously expected. Desserts averaged at around £6.50.

Location and parking

The floating restaurant is situated on Ipswich Waterfront, opposite Bistro on the Quay and Isaacs. It doesn’t have its own parking, but there are a few spaces along the waterfront that you can park in if you’re lucky. If not, there’s a large pay and display car park a little further along the quay.

Mariners on Ipswich Waterfront PICTURE: Sarah Lucy BrownMariners on Ipswich Waterfront PICTURE: Sarah Lucy Brown

Highlight

While the chocolate brownie was quite possibly the best I’ve ever eaten, the chunky satay sauce of my starter made this dish my highlight. The chicken was plentiful and the sauce was sweet and creamy. The addition of the naan bread was a perfect touch to allow you to scrape the bowl clean too – you wouldn’t want to leave any to waste!

Summary

Mariners 1900 offers a high quality dining experience; staff cannot do enough to make you feel welcomed and the food was exceptional both in taste and aesthetics.

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