Restaurant review, No4, Bury St Edmunds: "One of the best brunches I've ever had"
PUBLISHED: 12:21 01 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:21 01 May 2018
We sampled brunch at...the cinema!
Walking into No4 (the cafe/restaurant attached to Bury St Edmunds’ independent Abbeygate Cinema) was such a breath of fresh air. Tucked just off the main shopping drag in the centre of town, it makes a kooky little haunt for a spot of brunch, and had been on my list for quite some time.
With its wacky decoupage seats, movie paraphernalia, and a steady stream of cinema-goers trekking in, there was a funky, arty vibe about the dining area at the front where we pulled up our pews.
The only downside was the menu. There wasn’t, you have to understand, anything wrong with it. It’s just, there was so much choice. The Canadian chef has made it impossible to decide between the globally-influenced dishes. So hard, in fact, our poor waitress must have come back three times before we’d made up our minds.
We weren’t going to have starters (it was brunch after all), but thought we’d have a crack at the molten three-cheese garlic bread, and the homemade hummus - also with garlic bread. The hummus had retained a bit of texture, and hadn’t been pumped full of lemon juice, so really got that wholesome, nutty chickpea flavour across. A smattering of black bean salsa on top was a punchy delight.
And the garlic bread? Well, I was seeing off vampires for the rest of the afternoon! It was pretty pungent but that’s just the way I like it.
It would have been rude not to try the No4 special brunch. A number of different topping combinations is available, to be mixed with hashed potatoes and served with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.
What I ate is officially now my top brunch dish. Just glorious. I didn’t have the eggs (I’m not a fan) but within the huge bowl were tiny cubelets of golden crisp potato, nuggets of pulled pork, burnished onions, slices of mushroom and barbecue sauce, crumbled with piquant speckles of Stilton. Ooh it was naughty, but it was good. I felt the hollandaise (very well made) was a little superfluous because it worked as a dish without it, but a little dab here and there gave it an added sense of luxury. I don’t want to know the calorie count on this.
Also tried was a flat iron steak, charred to tenderly pink medium rare with herby seasoned chips and a wonderful side salad that was so much more than the bog standard tumble of rocket and underripe tomatoes. Chef had dressed verdant French beans with roasted onion, charred peppers and a medley of seeds.
A Cuban panini made with real-deal Cuban bread (hoorah), was a beast of a thing, with shreds of pork, bacon, pickles, yellow mustard and mayo - everything you need to wake you up. I thought the red cabbage slaw on the side (mayo-free) with bursts of cranberry was a nice touch.
And the poutines - chips, chicken gravy, cheddar curds - were the stuff junk food dreams are made of.
There’s no dessert menu per se, but instead a countertop giving off cheery cake vibes. I had to have the Nanaimo bar - a Canadian speciality which I have a particular soft spot for. I prefer the crunchy-based version to No4’s cakey take on the classic, but it was still yum. Think coconut chocolate cake, sweet vanilla custard and smooth dark chocolate.
The Goody Bar, made with oats, almonds and raisins, was a healthier flapjack, and slipped down rather nicely with a mocha.
As for the chocolate meringues? I’d say order one of these gooey treasures between two with a strong coffee - unless you have a sweet tooth.
A short but sweet list has some local options and interesting craft beers. I had a glass of Grenache Viognier. It didn’t give over the buttery, peachy smoothness I’d usually associate with those grapes, being more akin to a chenin blanc. It did the trick at relaxing me though. The mocha was superb - smoky, silky and packed with chocolate. But the star drink was the speciality ice cream milkshake. It was £5 but would suffice as a pudding or a treat between two. Loaded with ice cream it was thick and creamy, with added malt giving it a Mars Bar quality.
There’s a stand asking you to wait as you come in. We found ourselves standing around so looked for staff at the bar. The young team were happy and smiley and knew the menu well, making suggestions of some of their favourites from it.
There’s no car park, but you’ll find limited paid-for parking at Angel Hill, or plenty of spaces around five minutes away at Ram’s Meadow.
We felt truly relaxed here. It was like being in the front room of an eccentric aunt.
The doorway is a little narrow but still seemed navigable for wheelchairs.
It was £77 for a glass of wine, three large soft drinks, a mocha, milkshake, three starters, three main courses and four desserts. I thought everything was keenly priced. All the cakes/desserts, for example, were under £3.
The brunch bowl. Thank goodness this place is a 40 minute drive from where I live, or I’d be piling on the pounds eating it every weekend.
If you haven’t yet experienced the joy of this cafe, which dares to be different, I implore you to give it a go. It’s a fabulous little independent, and these places should be embraced and cherished. Maybe make a day of it and watch a film there too?