Restaurant review, The Weeping Willow, Barrow: “The food is as beautifully presented as the restaurant itself”
- Credit: Archant
The food at The Weeping Willow is as beautifully presented as the restaurant itself says Emily Cotton.
Before even getting to the taste of any of the dishes my boyfriend and I had at The Weeping Willow in Barrow, I have to mention their appearance – how our food looks visually is a contributing factor in how good we think it tastes, isn’t it? Every dish we were served was presented with Le Cordon Bleu elegance, with exceptional attention to detail evident, especially with our desserts. Even if I tried, I really couldn’t fault the food visually.
For starters, I chose the chicken liver parfait, which was served with fig and apple chutney, watercress and toasted brioche. The parfait was silky and smooth, while the taste and texture of the chutney made it the perfect accompaniment. My boyfriend opted to choose the goat’s cheese, fig and onion tart with rocket, toasted walnuts and balsamic dressing. I had slight food envy when I saw how good this looked when it was first brought to the table. The pastry on the tart was melt-in-the-mouth, and far from gummy or under-cooked. Coupled with the crunch of the toasted walnuts, the textures within this dish pleasantly contrasted, while the various flavours complemented each other harmoniously.
My only criticism of the starters (mainly the parfait) – and I can’t believe I am saying this – was the portion size. In no way was this a big issue, because yes, we could simply eat less, but there was just so much. And, along with the bread that was brought to our table beforehand, I feared there was a chance we might end up feeling full before our mains had even arrived. Thankfully though, the time between courses was long enough to ensure we were ready for the next, without feeling like the service was too slow.
After narrowing down my choice for mains to two dishes, I finally decided upon the crispy confit of Gressingham duck leg with lentils, wilted greens, charred leeks and bacon. The duck fell off the bone beautifully and had an amazing, rich taste, however the ‘sweet’ taste of the lentils and bacon was more overpowering on the plate.
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Choosing the dry aged Blyburgh pork cutlet with sauté potatoes, roasted cauliflower and celeriac, my boyfriend said he was again impressed with the size of the dish served (large portions are more appealing for mains). The hearty meal was satisfying and made a statement without making too much of a fuss. The cut of meat was lean and did mean it was a slight struggle to cut through it – it perhaps would have been better served with a steak knife.
Where our starters over-delivered, our desserts were a little underwhelming in terms of size. I ordered the hot chocolate fondant with mango sorbet for dessert – I always go for something chocolatey often without looking at any of the other options on the menu – and was very happy with my choice. However, very surprisingly to me – it wasn’t the gooey centre of the chocolate fondant that was my favourite part. The mango sorbet it was served with was the perfect addition to the plate, cleansing the palate and ensuring the dessert wasn’t too rich or sickly.
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The range of flavours in my boyfriend’s dessert – the white chocolate and vanilla panna cotta, served with poached rhubarb and gingerbread – was delicious. We were both new to poached rhubarb and, while he says he wouldn’t try it again in a rush, he did say he appreciated how its sharp flavour was matched with the creaminess of the panna cotta. The range of flavours was also mirrored by a variety of textures, from the crunch of the gingerbread and the snap of the rhubarb to the smoothness of the panna cotta.
My boyfriend went for a cask ale he was familiar with, however was impressed with the range of draught and bottled beers on offer. The restaurant was clearly proud of its range of gins, which all came from Great Britain, including local ones from Southwold and Newmarket too. Each gin was presented on the drinks menu with tasting notes listed in great detail underneath. I was also impressed by the selection of both alcohol and alcohol-free cocktails. We were offered a drink as soon as we arrived – before we had sat and looked at the full drinks menu – therefore I wasn’t aware of all that was on offer when I chose. I wish I’d have tried the ‘The Bristol’ mocktail... The description reads “only Martin knows what’s inside” and I’m still intrigued to know.
As soon as we entered, the staff were warm and friendly. We were asked what drinks we would like upon arrival, before being shown to our seats and waiting for our drinks to be brought to the table, which were, promptly, by another server. We were offered water for the table without having to ask, and we checked back on and had empty plates cleared away punctually.
The Weeping Willow is described as both a pub and restaurant. From the outside, it has a distinct county pub look, however its interior would sit closer to the latter on any scale. The establishment is well-decorated, clean and modern, and has clearly been renovated to a very high-standard, providing a lovely dining experience whether it is with a partner, friends or family.
For the taste, quality and incredible presentation you are served with, prices of all courses at The Weeping Willow are very reasonable. Five of the seven main dishes were priced between £13 and £17 – prices we were happy to pay – however the other two dishes (the lamb and the monkfish) were a lot more expensive, priced at £25+.
Location and parking
The Weeping Willow is situated in the small village of Barrow, 15 minutes west of Bury St Edmunds. Although a little out in the sticks, it was easy to find when following a satnav. Its location also means that there is sufficient space for the pub to have its own car park.
I was very impressed with the small amount of the goat’s cheese, fig and onion tart I tried, however my highlight would be the mango sorbet that came as part of the hot chocolate fondant dessert. It was so refreshing!
I would certainly return to The Weeping Willow, even though it involved almost an hour drive for me. The food was very enjoyable, portion sizes were sufficient and satisfying, and prices were very reasonable. The atmosphere in the restaurant feels fancy, therefore is the ideal spot to dine if you’re celebrating a special occasion.