Popular restaurant re-opening for takeaways from Friday
- Credit: Archant
Pre-order everything from whole pomegranate shoulder of lamb to sumac chicken – which got the owner through round one of Masterchef
“It’s not really the way we thought this summer would be,” says Matt Driver of The Cooks Shed – one of Suffolk’s most secret restaurants, hidden off Woodbridge’s Thoroughfare.
Matt, a former Masterchef contestant (2011), opened the dining space last year with friend and business partner Vlad Wills-Sokolov, quickly gaining a loyal following for great service and interesting, flavour-filled sharing plates.
Like every other business in the hospitality industry, the pair were forced to close this spring due to the government-imposed lockdown, and while it wasn’t feasible to re-open from July 4, they’re pleased to once again be serving customers from this Friday, August 14, on a purely takeaway basis.
“It would be tricky for us to open for sit-downs as the space is awkward for social distancing,” Matt says. “It’s not the kind of place where people can sit far enough apart, and we had to think about the safety of our staff too, so we’ve got to make takeaways work for the foreseeable. If things calm down a bit into the New Year or sooner, we’d like to be able to do private dining events in the restaurant for groups of people allowed to be together though.”
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For now, Matt and Vlad are focussing on offering three distinct options from the restaurant premises.
Firstly, a collection of four to five ready meals each week, secondly, two larger, sharing platters (serving six to eight people) for collection on Saturdays, and, thirdly, the kitchen’s own produce and ingredients to share and enjoy at home.
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“This is the first time we felt we could do something that would work for us,” explains Matt. “These first, tentative steps are quite exciting. We’re taking the kinds of dishes we’d make in the restaurant, using local vegetables, meat and fish, and transforming them into hearty takeaways.”
The launch menu includes homemade goats’ curd with Maple Farm courgettes, confit tomatoes and cous cous salad, charred kohlrabi and onions from Maple Farm with romesco sauce and smoked quinoa, and sumac chicken with saffron yoghurt, garlic beans and potatoes. “It’s making me laugh thinking about the sumac chicken,” Matt beams. “It’s a dish we’ve been meaning to have in the restaurant for ages but we never found the opportunity. It’s an adaptation of the dish that got me through the first round of Masterchef! Something else great we’re doing is pork belly with a mash filled with ham and roasted peppers, mushroom and broad bean saute and gravy – posh pork and mash.”
Each substantial dish feeds one and costs from £12 to £15 with pre-order advised but walk-ins welcome too.
The kitchen’s larger, family-sized, dishes should be ordered in advance, with the launch platters including a vegetarian tagine-style stew of chickpeas and butterbeans with feta and bulghur wheat, and a whole pomegranate lamb shoulder with mixed roasted vegetables and smoked quinoa salad.
Menus will largely change from week to week.
If you’re a food lover seeking something a bit special for the weekend, pop by to see what Matt and Vlad have in their ‘store’ - all crafted on site.
“Coming up we’ll have our own yoghurts and fresh cheese. But for now we’ve got our own hummus made with Hodmedods beans, and our amazing ketchup-like sauce. We don’t actually call it a ketchup but it gets used in various ways in lots of our dishes and is very versatile. I’m excited to sell our bread too. We’ll have a white sourdough and hopefully a Woodbridge Tide Mill wholemeal – that’s made completely with Tide Mill flour, Hill Farm rapeseed oil and our own sourdough starter. When we first opened up, Dan the miller would bring bags of flour to us in his backpack! It’s amazing-tasting bread and it’s incredible to think in 2020 you can have locally-milled flour on the doorstep.”
The Cooks Shed is open from 5pm to 8.30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and also from 12noon to 3pm on Saturdays with ordering available from their website.
“It’s a very very exciting feeling to be coming back,” adds Matt. “I’m looking forward to getting into the kitchen with Vlad rather than shouting at him on Zoom. We’re a restaurant, we want to be out there serving people and talking to people about what we’re doing. This is a way back to that hopefully.”