Review: The Loft Sudbury
- Credit: Archant
Our food and drink editor checks out this family-run Polish restaurant in Sudbury.
I wound up at this homely, family-run Polish restaurant very much by accident. It’s been on my review list for a while as I’ve seen it’s been really well received in Sudbury, but my day had started out at Cradle, just up the road. Being World Vegan Month and all, I’d planned a healthy vegan review for you all – alas, they had sold out of food when we popped in, and the closest lunchtime spot was The Loft – an ode to meat. Oh well.
It was very quiet when we popped in on a Saturday, with just a few other customers sitting, but we were made to feel very welcome by the owners’ daughter, who was incredibly chatty, and let us know some items weren’t on the menu as the chef was just back from his holidays and cooks everything from scratch. I thought that a good sign. We weren’t going to be served leftover detritus from the back of the freezer.
Polish, but with a few English café-type dishes, the menu at The Loft is pleasant but not terribly exciting. If you’re after foams and fancy things, you won’t find them here. Nope, the focus is on long-cooked braises, and home-style eastern European classics designed to bolster- perfect then for this cold snap.
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To begin my friend Jo and I went for the prawns in a white wine sauce, and the Polish cheese and potato dumplings. Jo found the dumplings a little wet, but they were as they should have been, and with four to a plate, it was quite a helping. The pillows of doughy pasta and their starchy filling were subtle in their flavouring, but lifted by a hefty sprinkle of black pepper. It could have done with a little sauce, or more of the caramelised onions on top, but nice otherwise -although I can’t say they made me want to shout from the rafters.
The prawns were a bit overdone, but the creamy white wine sauce binding them together was faultless and we lapped it up with the crusty bread on the plate.
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Had we anticipated the gargantuan nature of the main courses, we definitely wouldn’t have plumped for a first course.
Small portions these are not folks. Wear trousers with an elasticated waistband.
For me, it was the classic pork goulash. Subtle with paprika, the pork had been cooked low and slow until falling apart. I felt the sauce was a little runny, but the flavour and tenderness of the meat was undeniable. It was served inside a giant potato pancake, which soaked up all those juices at the centre, with crispy, crunchy nibbly bits around the edges. I thought it was a bit odd to serve salad and hot veg on the side of the plate, but the veg in particular were nicely done, seasoned, buttered and al dente – not an afterthought.
I had food envy of Jo’s pork schnitzel. It can come plain or with all manner of toppings and she picked cheese and mushroom. What is often a greasy dish was impressively dry and crunchy, while the pork remained soft and juicy inside its breadcrumb and egg coating. Jo likes a sauce, but this didn’t need it, with so much flavour coming from the pork itself, the buttery mushrooms, salty cheese and roasted potatoes, coated in a hot paprika spice mix (these were delicious).
“I think I need a doggy bag!” Jo laughed, giving me a frown as I leaned over cutting off a few chunks to help her out. What are friends for after all?
We gave up when it came to puddings. It was useless, we didn’t have any room left at all! I definitely would have gone for the Polish apple crumble cake though. Maybe another time.
There’s plenty to choose from, and the server said she makes a mean cocktail, but we stuck to soft drinks this time. If you like vodka it’s worth noting there is a really large range of Polish flavoured vodkas to choose from – a little something to aid your digestion.
Even though it wasn’t busy the service was very slow. However we were informed that there would be a wait when we arrived due to everything being prepared from scratch, and this was evident in the dishes we received. The young waitress was charmingly chatty and seemed very proud of her parents’ restaurant. She told us all about her favourite dishes and desserts her Polish grandmother used to make her.
We were mighty impressed with these. As well as having adequate baby changing facilities, lots of little extras were provided, from sanitary products to wet wipes. A thoughtful touch.
The car park behind the old Argos building in the centre of Sudbury is the closest but we couldn’t get in so parked down beside the Kingfisher Leisure Centre. Most car parks in the town have free parking for up to three hours.
It was £48 for two courses each plus two soft drinks which is on the pricier end for lunch. It might do them well to create a set menu for lunchtimes.
The schnitzel. Jo lived in Germany for many years and said it was on par with the best she had over there. I agree, it was juicy, crisp and full of flavour.
Not the place for you if you’re on a diet. But if you’re looking for a home-style restaurant where you can really relax, sit back, enjoy the company of your friends and eat comfort food, this place could well fit the bill. Stick to main courses only if you have a small appetite!