Review: Rare Cow Sudbury

The Rare Cow Sudbury, lime cheesecake

The Rare Cow Sudbury, lime cheesecake - Credit: Archant

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis reviews the Rare Cow in Sudbury

The Rare Cow Sudbury, date, lotus root and vanilla brulee

The Rare Cow Sudbury, date, lotus root and vanilla brulee - Credit: Archant

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis revisits the Rare Cow in Sudbury

The Rare Cow Sudbury, ribeye steak with trimmings

The Rare Cow Sudbury, ribeye steak with trimmings - Credit: Archant

My friend Lisa and I were practically blown in the doors of Rare Cow at The Boathouse when we visited last week.

Gale force winds (which had knocked down my garden fence when I got home) were swirling around us and we were clinging onto one another for dear life trying to reach the entrance.

But, once we did make it in, we were greeted by a relaxed, candlelit oasis.

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Singer Genie, who apparently is a regular, appearing most Saturdays, was working her way through a collection of modern and standard songs and her silky voice was a welcoming, soothing touch on such a bitter night.

The Rare Cow Sudbury, duck and orange pate

The Rare Cow Sudbury, duck and orange pate - Credit: Archant

You may remember I’ve reviewed the Rare Cow already this year. I had a good experience, but there were many others who did not and in September a completely new owner took over with new chefs and staff.

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Opening a new business with such a barrage of bad press held against it (through no fault of your own) must be tough, so I thought I’d give this place another crack.

We were shown to our table by one of the new owners Cilla, who was very sweet and accommodating. She’s not, she admits, a waitress, but she was a great host and was able to talk us through the menu and recommend favourites from both the wine and food lists.

The décor, I noticed, had changed slightly. The horrible octopus graffiti which griped the neighbours, has gone. The ostentatious Italian chandeliers have been replaced by smarter wine glass lights, and it’s all been pared down a bit. The cow print wallpaper has stayed but I rather like it.

The Rare Cow Sudbury, scallops with pork belly and carrot puree

The Rare Cow Sudbury, scallops with pork belly and carrot puree - Credit: Archant

Diners who visited under previous ownership will note the menu has reduced in size and price.

The steaks are still in the upper realms in terms of cost, but they are all locally sourced from rare breed cows and all the sides now come included in the price.

Everything is homemade, apart from a few things like bread and ice cream, which come from local suppliers.

To start we could have had mini sausages in a mustard glaze, a cured meat platter, chicken wings or tiger prawns and avocado cocktail.

I was won over by the scallops – who can resist them?

These weren’t just any scallops, they were huge! What’s more the new Italian chef Ziggy had cooked them perfectly. They were just-cooked, not raw in the middle as some will serve them. Underneath was a deliciously thick carrot puree with a warming hint of chilli and, counteracting the soft sweetness, a few crispy chunks of pork belly.

I thought it was very good.

Lisa had the pate of the day which, on that day, was duck and orange. The pate was as it should be – smooth, meaty and velvety. There was a good hit of orange in it too to counteract the richness of the duck liver. A crispy bitter salad broke up the richness too, and there were plenty of croutons to smear the pate on as well.

Being a grill and steak specialist there is quite a selection on the menu here, from sirloin and rump to ribeye, fillet, tomahawk and chateaubriand.

In addition there are Wagyu burgers (you know, where the cow is fed beer and massaged) racks of lamb, seabass and more.

I have to say, both of our main courses were enormous and, had we ploughed on and finished them we never would have made it to pudding.

I chose a ribeye. The steak was tasty and cooked as I wanted it. The onion rings that came with it were gigantic and flavoursome and there were lots of chips, garlic mushrooms and a soft roasted tomato as well.

As an extra I ordered a peppercorn sauce which was good and creamy but could have done with a touch more heat.

Lisa’s lobster was huge. Served in the thermidor style it was covered in a piquant mustardy, cheese and brandy glaze and came with a seasoned potato side dish and salad. It was a great example of this dish and all I would say is that when I’ve had it before the chef has taken the meat out of the lobster and replaced it before saucing to make it easier for the diner. Poor Lisa had quite a job, even with her special lobster tools, getting the flesh out of the shell. This didn’t however detract from the flavour or quality of the dish.

From the short pudding menu I was intrigued by the sound of the date, lotus root and vanilla crème brulee.

Intrigued because, well, lotus root is most often used in Asian dishes where it’s ground down and sweetened into a paste for moon buns, or crisped up in a stir-fry. Dates are more of a Middle Eastern thing.

My intuition was right. On a positive note the brulee mixture was delicious. It had a strong presence of good vanilla and the sweetness was not over the top. There was a nice crunchy, burnished lid as well.

The chopped dates at the bottom would have worked on their own, perhaps with a bit of rosewater running through, but the lotus root, having no distinct flavour, lent nothing to the pudding apart from a chewy texture. Without this it would have been a perfect attempt at the classic dessert. My actual favourite part of the pud was the exquisite shortbreads on the side. They were short, crumbly and packed full of wholesome, warming nutty flavours.

Lisa really enjoyed her lime cheesecake, which was light as a feather. With a mousse-like whipped texture and a zesty lime flavour it defied the notion that this pudding is usually heavy. Very well done.

All in all we had a good evening. There is a nice friendly vibe at the restaurant – very relaxed.

If you’ve been disappointed by this place in the past it is worth giving it another shot.


Rare Cow at The Boathouse, Cross Street, Sudbury Co10 2DL. Call 01787 371469.

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