Restaurant review: Glasswells A Place to Eat, Ipswich

Elderflower parfait

Elderflower parfait - Credit: Archant

We checked out food at Glasswells Ipswich’s in-store cafe.

Roast turkey and trimmings Picture: Archant

Roast turkey and trimmings Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Food

I’m not usually one to be won over by in-store eateries. Actually, the last time I ate at a supermarket café was probably as an early teen. I’m going to say it. I’m a food snob.

But…I know Glasswells has a good reputation for its food. The East Anglian department store is said to pride itself on cooking from scratch on site and supporting local producers. It’s also part the Eat Out Eat Well scheme, meaning it has to offer healthier options across its menu.

So on the sunny first Sunday of September I popped in to not only admire the carpet range (I’ve just moved house you see) but to check out the eatery.

Bacon and courgette quiche Picture: Archant

Bacon and courgette quiche Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant


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The array of cakes at the counter looked impressive. Big wedges of cake. Voluminous scones. So a good start for me.

The menu isn’t massive so they obviously cater within their means, which I like. As well as various hot dishes, sandwiches, paninis and the like on the main menu, there were specials such homemade smoked mackerel and horseradish pate, quiche of the day, and a roast.

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I love a quiche so plumped for the ham and courgette one (the other choice was three cheese) and on the other side of the table, getting ready for Christmas Day, was a plate of roasted turkey (only £11.50 with a pud).

The quiche looked very appetising but I’m afraid fell sadly short of perfection due to just one little thing -it was microwaved. There’s no getting away from it, we all know kitchens use them, but quiche is a wet product so when warmed in this way is always going to end up a little soggy and rubbery. Such a shame as I tried it and the flavour was lovely. The mixture was light, well-seasoned and packed with flakes of decent ham. It also came with new potatoes and a very fresh salad. I sent it back for another, but sadly this also came back floppy. If they warmed it in the oven for a short spell instead it would sort out the problem instantly and retain the crunch of what looked to be pretty decent pastry.

In the end I swapped it for a sausage roll and there were no complaints here. Priced at just £2.50 it was really excellent – in fact, one of the nicest I’ve eaten in Suffolk (and trust me, I have judged Café of the Year many times so I know a good sausage roll).

The sausagemeat was moist and open textured, with a peppery bite. And the pastry was flaky and buttery. I was half tempted to buy another to take home.

The roast turkey was juicy, generous in size for the price and smothered in a nice savoury gravy. The burnished Yorkshire pud got the nod of approval, as did the roasties – creamy inside and crunchy on the outside.

I found the accompanying vegetables a tad on the soft side, but my dining partner likes them that way – each to their own as they say.

I could have eaten any number of the cakes from the counter for dessert (I’ll definitely go back to try afternoon tea), but instead chose the special of the day – elderflower parfait.

I’ve eaten parfait in dozens of restaurants and been served slabs of frozen solid mediocre ice cream. Not so here. While simple in its presentation, with a flump of whipped cream and one of those Italian biscuit straw thingys, Glasswells’ version deserves a round of applause. Semi-frozen in texture, like a dense mousse, the parfait reminded me in flavour of a zippy lemon posset, with tangy undertones sitting nicely alongside a definite punch of elderflower. It was well-balanced and really refreshing.

Also tried was the gluten-free chocolate brownie, studded with chunks of walnut. I can’t fault it. I often approach gluten-free bakes with caution as the overriding flavour tends to be of bitter buckwheat flour. Here, you wouldn’t have known the difference from the ‘real’ thing. It wasn’t too sweet. There was that chewy crunchy top. And inside it was all gooey and chocolatey.

Drinks

We had a mocha and a hot chocolate with marshmallows. Both came in very generously sized mugs which was a plus. And both were really delicious too. Hot chocolate can be disappointing, but here it was full, creamy and very chocolatey.

Ambiance

There’s no getting away from the fact it’s an in-store eatery. It’s never going to be the most lavish of settings. But the café is very clean and comfortable and filled with light from the full glass frontage. It’s one of the more stylish cafes in the area.

Service

All the waitresses had a smile on their faces and they went out of their way to help when things didn’t go quite right with my first main course. The food came out promptly. In fact, we were surprised it was so fast.

Parking

There is absolutely loads of parking outside.

Price

A roast turkey, huge sausage roll, two large hot drinks, a pudding and a cake was £23.

Toilets

There are fresh, clean toilets on site.

Highlight

The parfait. It was delicious and so much more than you’d expect from a café.

Summary

Yes, they made a mistake with the quiche but I’m going to forgive them as I know the folk at Glasswells are a pro-active lot and they’ll look into that. Maybe it should be served cold instead- or as I suggested, warmed in the oven? Everything else we tried was spot-on. I’d even say it’s worth popping in if you’re not shopping -although you could be tempted by the lovely things in the soft furnishings department. If you’re in the western side of Ipswich and feeling peckish I’d advise skipping the big high street chains and fast food joints and instead giving this independent a go.

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