The Grazing Sheep, Ipswich, reopens for breakfast, lunch and tapas

A delicious gluten free cake. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A delicious gluten free cake. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

New owners take over Waterfront cafe.

A father and son, known well in the local food and drink scene, have come together to re-open a much-loved Ipswich café, putting their own special twist on it.

Bart Bisbal and son Julian opened the doors to The Grazing Sheep on Monday, April 30, following its shock closure earlier in the year.

Their passion for food, and experience cooking in kitchens across the UK and in Europe will reflect in the diverse offerings – from loaded English muffins in the morning, through home-cured salt beef bagels at lunchtimes, to innovative tapas on weekend evenings.

Talking about taking on the business, Bart said: “The previous owners are good friends of mine. I know Rita very well and I think they did a superb job. I’ve been out working in Norwich, Felixstowe and pubs throughout Suffolk for the last 13 years and it’s time for me to slow down, so this is probably going to be part of my retirement. It’s the perfect location. I was very easily persuaded to take it over. The aim is Julian, my son, at some point in time will take it over.”

The day begins at The Grazing Sheep at 8am, with freshly ground to order Milano coffee, sourced from a small family in Italy. Espressos will be served in glass cups so, says Bart, the rich, intensity of the coffee can be truly admired and appreciated.

“To go with this we will have freshly baked pastries every morning. All the savouries will be made from scratch here. We’re going to have sausage rolls with various fillings every day, and some sort of pastries with fillings like tomato and mozzarella, or ratatouille, and we’re going to have pasties. Julian does this very good one with beef and chorizo. It’s a twist on what they do in Spain with the empanadas.”

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Add to that big cheese scones, and a counter of cakes made on-site by Lara, supplemented by gluten-free cakes and pastries (think pasteis de nata and black forest gateau) made especially for the cafe by a local baker.

A big seller at breakfast is expected to be The Full Monty – a fresh English muffin loaded with sausage, mushroom, tomato, bacon and poached egg. Just the thing to set you up for the day. Not a meat eater? Swap the sausage and bacon for a homemade falafel patty instead.

At lunchtimes Bart says there’ll be salads, and special dishes, as well as an array of sandwiches made using bread and bagels from The Anchor Bakery, just across the marina, with fillings including Julian’s own salt beef and pastrami.

“On Saturdays we’ll have toasted sandwiches. Rather than a normal panini there’ll be the customer’s choice of fillings in soft ciabatta bread, which we’re going to press in the machine. So it’s going to be a bit more flavourful.”

Cured meat and cheese deli boards will make nice afternoon nibbles, enjoyed outside in the sun with a glass of wine.

And, in a real coup for Ipswich, on Friday and Saturday nights from May to September Julian (who has worked at famed Bulli-owned restaurant Tickets in Barcelona) will create authentic tapas.

“The plan,” says Bart, “is to call it pop-up tapas. We’re going to do five or six tapas on there and they’re going to be sold as individuals or a bunch and it will change every week. It will start very simple with Spanish croquetas and different seafood, but further into the thick of summer, when things have settled we’ll probably do a couple of quirky tapas using the same ingredients but cooked in different ways using molecular techniques. Julian loves taking ingredients and making them something else!”

The Grazing Sheep, on Ipswich Waterfront, is open from 8am to 6pm every day and soon until 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

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