Review: Doorsteps Cafe, Ipswich - "Great, homemade food in a friendly and welcoming setting"
PUBLISHED: 13:00 31 May 2019
Emily Cashen tries a spot of lunch in this quirky town centre cafe
All too often, I find myself in the centre of town around lunchtime, with hunger pangs kicking in, and I start to ponder the age-old question: where's good for a bite to eat around here?
I'm pleased to say that the Ipswich cafe scene has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, making it ever-easier to eschew the chain coffee behemoths and their rather lacklustre lunchtime offerings. A handful of charming, independent cafes have set up shop in the town centre, offering up an array of hearty sarnies, hot meals and healthy salads to hungry lunchtime shoppers. Opening its doors in 2018, Doorsteps Cafe is among these exciting new eateries, promising tasty, homemade food in a retro-themed setting on St Nicholas' Street.
Noticing that the quirky little cafe had recently celebrated its first birthday, I pencilled it in for review, and eagerly headed over one weekday lunchtime with my friend Charlotte in tow.
After a cheerful greeting from the cafe staff, we took a seat at one of the unoccupied tables - this is a compact little place with only four or five tables, so we were quite pleased to get a seat right away. A first glance at the menu looked promising, with dishes such as Caribbean spring stew, katsu curry and a Texas chilli burrito instantly jumping out at me. Reading on, we were also presented with a choice of sandwiches, jacket potatoes and salads, while blackboards dotted around the cafe showed an extensive drinks menu, including homemade smoothies and milkshakes. What really impressed me, however, was how vegetarian and vegan-friendly the menu was. While the most of the hot dishes on the menu contained meat, this could easily be swapped out for a veggie option, giving non-meat eaters just as much choice as their meat-eating friends. I also noticed that gluten-free options were available for every dish, so another thumbs-up for inclusivity.
As indecisive as ever, I agonised over my choice of both food and drink until a staff member helpfully proffered some suggestions. Following their advice, I opted for a white chocolate and coconut macaroon flavoured milkshake to get things started, while Charlotte went for a summer berry smoothie. As for food, I was persuaded to try the veggie version of the Diner burger. Meat eaters can enjoy a choice of a beef or chicken burger, while vegans and vegetarians can satisfy their cravings with a patty made from a meat-substitute called seitan, coated in breadcrumbs in the style of a schnitzel.
Our attentions turned to our drinks as we waited for our food to arrive, and we were both mightily impressed. When it comes to milkshakes, chocolate isn't my usual choice, but I was glad to have been convinced to try this white chocolate delight. Thick, creamy and deliciously sweet, it was exactly what a good milkshake should be. On the other side of the table, the summer berry smoothie also went down a treat, with Charlotte commenting that it was fresh and refreshing.
Now, onto the food. For a quick cafe lunch, I have a fairly modest set of criteria: it must be tasty, filling, reasonably priced, and shouldn't take too long to arrive at my table. I'm happy to say that Doorsteps delivered on all counts. My burger came loaded with two seitan patties, an oozy layer of cheese and a generous dab of sweet mustard, and these flavours came together perfectly in each bite. The patties were convincingly meaty in both texture and flavour, and there was just enough mustard to bring the burger to life, without being overpowering. My only gripe is that I wasn't served any cutlery, and while I'm more than happy to pick up a burger with my hands, I would have liked to have given the carrot and raisin side salad a try, for which I needed a fork. I'm sure that the staff would have brought one over to me in a heartbeat if I had asked, but as we were in a bit of a rush to get back to the office, I decided against it.
As I tucked into my burger, my dining companion enjoyed the cafe's katsu curry. I had ordered a vegetarian main, and I think that the staff had assumed that Charlotte would also be opting for a meat-free option, so they served her the vegetable katsu curry, as opposed to the chicken version that she had been expecting. Nonetheless, this didn't dampen her enjoyment of the dish, and she particularly liked the crunchy mini poppadom that accompanied the curry. The sauce was rich, with just the right amount of heat, and the rice fluffy.
Having polished off our main courses, our thoughts turned to something sweet. Doorsteps is well known for its selection of indulgent treats, offering up a range of vegan and gluten-free cakes, brownies and more. Alas, as fate would have it, we had managed to pick the one day where sweet treats were off the menu - as the cafe was awaiting a shipment of what they called 'special flour', which I assume was gluten-free. This was a shame, but not to be helped, and I admire the cafe's commitment to creating homemade treats that can be enjoyed by all, no matter their dietary requirements.
This cafe knows its coffee, and uses a local signature blend. Dairy-free milk is available, and the homemade smoothies and milkshakes are a real treat.
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The Doorsteps team is incredibly welcoming and friendly, and their passion for food is clear for everyone to see. The chef was more than happy to talk me though the various veggie-friendly amendments he could make to the hot dishes, and I was very glad to have followed his recommendations.
This cosy cafe is stylishly decorated, and has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere that makes you feel right at home.
Parking and location
Set in the centre of Ipswich on St Nicholas' Street, Doorsteps is conveniently located for anyone who works in town, and is a perfect place to grab a bit of lunch. There are plenty of parking options nearby, including the Cromwell Square car park which is just around the corner.
Our main courses cost just £6 each, the smoothie £3.50 and the milkshake £2.50. When we visited, Doorsteps was offering 20 percent off food to celebrate its first birthday, so our entire meal worked out at a remarkably reasonable £14.76. Hot meals on the spring menu ranged from £4 to £6, which I think is an incredible price for such tasty, homemade food.
My burger was just delicious - I'll be back to have it again!
Great, homemade dishes that cater to all diets - and all served with a smile. Make sure to pop in next time you're in town.