Review: Tasty carvery at Orwell Crossing, Nacton

EADT review Orwell Crossing Nacton. Carvery.

EADT review Orwell Crossing Nacton. Carvery. - Credit: Archant

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis reviews food at Orwell Crossing, Nacton

EADT review Orwell Crossing Nacton. Baked cheesecake

EADT review Orwell Crossing Nacton. Baked cheesecake - Credit: Archant

Lunch at a lorry park? You might, readers, think I’ve lost my marbles. But it’s true. That’s exactly where I spent the afternoon with my family last Sunday.

Orwell Crossing is no stranger to us. It’s one of our sometimes stop points on the way out to country walks or day trips to Felixstowe beach.

Whatever idea you may have in your mind about lorry parks (greasy food, nasty loos) set your inhibitions aside and give this place a go, because it really isn’t your average run-of-the-mill road stop.

EADT review Orwell Crossing Nacton. Coffee and walnut cake.

EADT review Orwell Crossing Nacton. Coffee and walnut cake. - Credit: Archant

Created as a way to diversify the family farm, and with strong values of local produce and home cooked food driving the business forward, the site (which has loads of parking space, bright clean toilets, showers, a bar, restaurant and often live entertainment) is a cut above the rest in its field.

It’s not just truck and lorry drivers who enjoy stopping off for refreshments, but a whole host of folk.

On our visit there were loads of families eating together, and a friendly bunch of bikers pulled up too, seeking hot sustenance before hitting the road again.

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All the dishes at Orwell Crossing are homemade on site. Meat is sourced locally, and many of the vegetables are grown on the farm – currently including carrots, leeks, cabbages, potatoes and others.

Orwell Crossing Lorry Park.

Orwell Crossing Lorry Park.

A highlight is the carvery – good value priced at just under £8 per head or just under £4 for a child’s portion.

Elsewhere on the main menu were cod and chips, cheese, potato and onion pie, slow braised beef goulash, soups and more.

Ethan fancied the sound of the pulled pork bap. The pork, sliced straight off the carvery, was blended with barbecue sauce and stuffed into a soft bun. Served alongside crispy chips, it made our eight-year-old very happy (although, eyeing up his dad’s roast dinner made him slightly jealous, so there was a swap halfway through!).

The other three of us lined up for the carvery, noticing the chef was carving off some good sized hunks of meat.

Beef, turkey and pork were on offer and we could either have a small piece of each or a larger piece of two of them.

We all went for the trio which was still, nonetheless, good in size. The chef topped us all up with puffy Yorkshires then left us to our own devices at the hotplate, where we could serve ourselves veg from the hefty selection.

Boiled, roasted and mashed potatoes, parsnips, braised red cabbage, sprouts, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower. And as much thick gravy as you could get on your plate.

Loaded up, we were at a loss as to where to begin. I was a bit greedy with the gravy (you can never really have too much) and trying to cut into my lunch without creating a saucy tidal wave was quite a challenge.

Everything we had was beautifully done. The vegetables still had a bite and tasted really fresh. I especially thought the red cabbage was very good. It had a nicely balanced sweet and sour flavour, without tipping too far one way or the other. It was bright and still al dente.

The roasties had a good crunch to them, with that magical halo of a shell around a fluffy interior.

And the meat. Honestly. It was superb. Sometimes carvery meat (especially in those chain restaurants) is of the cheaper variety and injected with water and additives. The meat here, as well as being locally sourced, retained its pure flavour and texture.

The turkey fell apart and wasn’t dry in the slightest (and believe me that’s not down to the amount of gravy added). The pork was succulent.

And the beef was the best roast beef I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant setting. The silverside (alongside brisket one of the most flavoursome cuts) was steam roasted to the point where it had a caramelised, sweet, beefy crust, and a tender interior that flaked apart. I barely had to chew.

Our daughter Ella loves a bit of beef and it certainly kept her quiet.

After a breather, which we definitely needed after bulking up on the carvery, we investigated the puddings.

Ethan doesn’t really have a sweet tooth so was fine with a couple of scoops of strawberry ice cream.

I opted for the coffee and walnut cake. While I couldn’t really detect much walnut flavour, the moist cake had a good hit of coffee and a lovely creamy frosting.

Jarv had the cheesecake, which he declared creamy and not too sweet with a good, homemade flavour.

And Ella chose the St Clement’s lemon and orange cake with citrus drizzle. Like the other puddings, it wasn’t too sweet and had a bright fresh orange flavour. For between £2.50 and £3 for puddings the portion sizes were generous too.

It’s worth noting that the bar is well stocked with all the favourites and some harder to find choices. We, for example had a bottle of tequila-infused Desperados beer and Kopparberg pear cider – you don’t tend to find these in many watering holes.

Overall we had a good experience at Orwell Crossing. Ok, so it’s not glitzy and ritzy, but the dining area is comfortable, there’s a buzz in the dining room, which is rarely empty on a Sunday lunchtime, and staff are friendly too.

If you want a no frills, home style roast that will fill you up without bursting your wallet, I would recommend giving this place a go. Oh, and the carvery is available most days so you don’t even have to wait until Sunday.

Contact: Orwell Crossing, A14 Eastbound, Nacton, Ipswich, IP10 0DD. Call 01473 659140. www.orwellcrossing.co.uk

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