Review: The Townhouse, Ipswich

chickpea and spinach croquettes

chickpea and spinach croquettes - Credit: Archant

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis and Nicola Warren rave about lunch at The Townhouse in Ipswich.

townhouse treacle tart

townhouse treacle tart - Credit: Archant

Following almost 12 months of being closed after a fire devastated its kitchen, The Townhouse reopened earlier this year.

The timing of the fire came just as the restaurant (under new ownership) had started to find its feet and build a regular base of customers in its third year.

The Townhouse Ipswich

The Townhouse Ipswich

The eatery has a smart, unfussy brasserie feel across three levels, with plenty of room for large groups and parties.

We popped in for a rare leisurely lunch break to find out more about the food here.

Glancing at the main menu, The Townhouse caters for most tastes, with a good variety of fish, meat and vegetarian dishes on offer – most of them twists on classic bistro cuisine.

There was brioche toast topped with marinated herring, sautéed onion and fried egg and warm pigeon breast salad to start.

The Townhouse Ipswich

The Townhouse Ipswich

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Pan-fried hake with coriander and vanilla sauce, lyonnaise potatoes, carrot and butternut squash brunoise was a main course that sounded interesting on the a la carte menu.

Then temptations from the pudding section ranged from Hendricks and tonic granita, to apple crumble cheesecake with pecan crumble and caramel ice cream.

We decided to choose from the reasonably priced set menu (£15 for two courses and £18 for three).

It was made up of clean, simple flavours. Soup of the day, chicken Caesar salad, bubble and squeak with Cumberland sausage, battered fish and chips.

The Townhouse Ipswich

The Townhouse Ipswich

A nice touch while we waited was the warm bread rolls with a trio of butters – plain, paprika or chive, to slather on top. I couldn’t stop eating the chive butter.

Nicola sat out the starter, saving herself for a pud but, ever the greedy one, I went the whole hog and tucked into a whole three courses.

To begin I had spinach and chickpea croquettes. They came with a nicely dressed mixed leaf salad. The decently sized croquettes were absolutely packed with flavour, bearing the gentle, herbal, aromatic spicy notes of a good falafel but with a softer texture. They were just spot on with seasoning too. A great start.

Next up was herby chicken with sauté potatoes and green beans. I admit, it sounds rather boring. And I never really order chicken when I eat out as I’m inevitably underwhelmed by the stringy dry lump of protein that usually arrives in front of me.

I was assured this was a popular favourite with diners so went ahead with it.

This was a prime example of using a few ingredients well. And boy was it executed perfectly. The chicken was the moistest I have ever had…anywhere. As I cut through the golden, herb-flecked skin the juices seeped out under the knife.

The breast was coated in a layer of rich, meaty, savoury demi glace which drizzled onto the plate, and there was an unctuous herb butter laden with plenty of tarragon. I didn’t want to finish eating this plate. Every mouthful was a delight and I even sneakily had to run my little finger along the side at the end to lap up every last golden drop of sauce. Perfection.

Nic was similarly impressed by her haddock mornay. The flaky, tender white fish was sat in a gratin dish atop a mound of spinach and covered in a creamy cheese sauce with a burnished top with a salad garnish and boiled new potatoes.

It’s a good thing the restaurant wasn’t busy while we were eating our early lunch because there were definitely some ‘When Harry Met Sally’ sounds coming from our table throughout the main course.

And these appreciative ‘mms’ and ‘oohs’ continued into pudding.

My treacle tart was divine. A good sized portion the filling was thick and gooey and soft and fudgy all at once with no hint of dryness. I loved the flavours of ginger and lemon coming through, and ended up with lips covered in the syrupy drizzle that was flicked over the top. The custard with it was properly made too.

Nicola couldn’t resist the deconstructed lemon meringue pie from the a la carte menu. A streak of blow torch charred Italian meringue provided a sweet pillowy bed for biscuit crumbs, yoghurt sorbet and a whipped mound of tongue-tingling lemon curd. She absolutely loved it.

I cannot stress how good this meal was. Every element of every dish was perfect, without exception. Sometimes simple is best and The Townhouse is a great reflection of this.

You know, sometimes you don’t want to be bowled over by twee presentation and fancy bits of this and that on your plate. You just want to eat really good, filling, affordable, tasty food.

So try this place. it’s a little gem.

Contact: The Townhouse, 4A Orwell Place, Ipswich. 01473 230254.