Review: Aurora Bar & Resturant
- Credit: Archant
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis and Claire Holmes head to Ipswich Waterfront for a preview of new eatery Aurora
Aurora can be found on Orwell Quay close to the UCS buildings in an area that has really changed and taken shape in recent years to become one of Ipswich’s newest neighbourhoods.
It benefits from having its own car park – how many restaurants in the town can boast this?
Stylish is a word that definitely applies to Aurora. And you definitely can’t miss it on the Waterfront with its sail-like canopy atop the roof.
With glass stretching round on three sides, it’s the view that speaks volumes here and attention has been paid not to décor but to creating mood and tone, with white and grey furnishings and paint finishes softened by ambient lighting.
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The owners could have gone over the top when trying to bring a modern touch to the building, but it is actually quite subtle and pared back, which makes for a relaxed setting.
Downstairs, the bar has plenty of seating for pre and post dinner chatting or an evening glass of wine. The main restaurant area is upstairs, with the kitchen pass visible, bringing instant buzz to the room.
As we visited on one of two preview evenings before the official opening we dined from the set menu which looked very promising.
To begin we were served freshly-baked petite rolls, which were very well made and a good start to the rest of the meal.
The starter of fois gras and duck liver parfait with caramelised onion marmalade and toasted brioche was feather light, smooth and packed with rich gamey flavours. The sticky marmalade was a good foil for the meatiness and there was just the right amount of brioche to accompany the dish.
Although on the small side, our other starter of Pinney’s smoked mackerel was a very accomplished plate of food. A sliver of mackerel, served at just the right temperature, was accompanied by a soft quenelle of pate, and crunchy, lightly pickled escabeche vegetables with a hint of warm spice and pepper. A piece of crispbread smeared with a hint of black olive paste cut a salty note through the dish.
The main course of Woodview Farm lamb was superb. The roast cannon was buttery soft and required barely any force to cut through the flesh. This was served beside a shepherd’s pie made from tender pieces of shoulder meat topped with a fluffy mash. The pie, along with leafy greens and roasted carrots and parsnips, was the ideal thing for mopping up the jus and juices on the plate.
Our main course of chargrilled monkfish was, again, a little small but perhaps more suitable for someone fancying something lighter.
The fish was cooked perfectly which was excellent considering it was char-grilled. Also strewn across the plate were saffron potatoes, leeks and sea fennel, which brought an aromatic flavour to the dish.
Puddings were a joy on both sides of the table and presentation was spot on. The warm chocolate fondant burst under the spoon into a puddle of dark, bittersweet goo flecked with moist sponge, with a dollop of caramel-scented burnt milk ice cream and crunchy white chocolate mille feuille rounding off the flavours.
A more delicate sweetness was found in the toffee apple cheesecake. As well as the creamy, crumbly cake, there was a crunch from earthy pistachio praline, a slick of caramel sauce and a very elegant and tangy apple sorbet.
It’s clear from the plates of food coming out of the kitchen that head chef Stuart Drane has a clear vision for Aurora and that he has a clever palette that assesses not only flavour combinations but texture too – which is equally important.
A fabulous setting with absolutely charming staff in a location that’s easy to get to and park at. The food is very well cooked and flavoursome. Some of the dishes could do with being a little larger, but they are nonetheless delicious. Well worth a visit if you want to splash out and treat the one you love to good food and striking views.
Our set menu was £35 per person with the a la carte coming in at an average of £33-£40 per person without drinks.
Aurora, Orwell Quay, Ipswich. Call 01473 857027. www.auroraipswich.co.uk