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Restaurant review, Cradle, Sudbury: "Delicious and wholesome, but left me wanting for more"

PUBLISHED: 13:00 28 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:41 01 March 2019

The Cradle tartine

The Cradle tartine

Archant

Our reviewer gives her take on the food at one of Suffolk's most popular vegan cafes.

An apple and hazlenut tartAn apple and hazlenut tart

Food

There’s a real buzz surrounding Sudbury’s latest plant-based cafe. Since opening its doors in 2017, Cradle has grabbed the attention of foodies far and wide, and has even been tipped as one of the nation’s top vegan food destinations. So, my expectations were certainly high as I took my first trip to this stylish little cafe. Walking into Cradle, the café’s ethical ethos is instantly clear. Its rustic wooden tables are adorned with reusable cloth napkins, and customers sip their colourful beverages through eco-friendly metal straws. A very tempting array of pastries are on display beside the counter, all made from scratch onsite – and without even a trace of butter.

So far, so good. Having worked up quite an appetite on the drive over to Sudbury, my lunchtime companion and I soon seated ourselves and hungrily browsed the menu, which was written on a chalkboard on the cafe wall. It didn’t take too long to arrive at a decision, as there were just two dishes on offer for lunch that day – a leek top, broccoli and roasted cashew soup, and a tartine topped with leeks, broccoli and a mushroom carpaccio. I might have preferred to have a little more choice – especially with mushrooms being my own personal food hell – but I appreciated that the cafe took care to use quality locally sourced ingredients, and it was interesting to see them presented in two very different ways. Indeed, a list of the weeks’ fresh produce could be found next to the menu, with the cafe owners taking the time to detail how many miles each ingredient had travelled to end up on our plates. The staff members also told me that the menu changes weekly, depending on the produce that they have in each week.

I went up to the counter to order the two dishes, which we had decided to share between us, as well as a dessert for afters. For drinks, we went for the juice of the day (orange, carrot, apple and parsnip) and a turmeric latte, which were quickly delivered to our table by the friendly cafe staff.

The leek top, broccoli and roasted cashew soupThe leek top, broccoli and roasted cashew soup

The mains followed shortly after, and were just beautifully presented. The tartine, in particular, was a real work of art, and had clearly been crafted with a lot of love. The vibrant colours of the dish really jumped off the plate, from the greens of the crunchy veggies to the sunny yellow of the accompanying vinaigrette. We tucked in hungrily, starting with the soup. Creamy and warming, it was a very pleasant dish, but for me, the accompanying carrot biscuit was the most interesting thing on the plate. It had a real depth of flavour to it and a satisfying crunch, and definitely made for a nice surprise. The soup was also served with a generous hunk of homemade sourdough, which made for delightful dunking.

The tartine, too, was full of flavour thanks to the tangy vinaigrette which certainly made its presence felt. As I mentioned earlier, I tend to give mushrooms a very wide berth, and would never normally choose them from a menu. But, with our dear readers in mind, I took the plunge and tentatively tasted the mushroom carpaccio. And I am so glad that I did. To my surprise, the mushrooms were not only edible, but dare I say it – enjoyable! Coated in a thick, creamy hummus and dabbed in that tart vinaigrette, these thinly sliced mushrooms were a complete delight. The paprika onions that were sprinkled over the top of the dish were another highlight, adding a deep, smoky flavour. Overall, the tartine was quite lovely, but we both felt that we could have eaten a little more.

Once we had scraped our plates clean, we started thinking about dessert. A baked apple and hazelnut tart was the only sweet treat on the menu on the day we visited, and we ordered one dish to share. It arrived accompanied by a rum and raisin ice-cream (vegan, of course), which was tasty, if a little watery. The apple tart itself was nicely flavoured and very light, which would be perfect if you’re after a not-so-naughty treat. Personally, though, I always prefer my desserts to be more on the indulgent side, so this little tart left me feeling a bit unsatisfied.

Drinks

My juice of the day was simply delicious, and it took all my willpower not to guzzle it in one go. The turmeric latte, on the other hand, is probably an acquired taste – but plenty of customers appeared to be ordering them. The cafe also boasted an extensive drinks menu including natural and organic wines, as well as beer, cider and gin, and of course, hot drinks including freshly roasted organic coffee.

Service

The cafe staff were very friendly and efficient with orders, and were clearly passionate and knowledgeable when it came to the food. All of my bothersome questions about the ingredients were answered with a smile.

Ambiance

Cradle is a stylish little cafe with a laidback and relaxed atmosphere. It’s clearly a popular spot, and we were lucky to get a table when we arrived. There was a steady flow of customers during the time that we spent there, with lots of people stopping by for takeout drinks, too. I noticed that the cafe only serves takeaway drinks to customers with ‘keep cups’, which is another nice, eco-friendly touch.

Price

We paid a very reasonable £23.50 for two mains, two drinks and a dessert. The mains were £5 and £7, respectively.

Accessibility

There was just one toilet onsite, and unfortunately it wasn’t disability friendly.

Parking

There is a very large car park clearly signposted, just off from Sudbury’s North Street, so parking isn’t a problem.

Highlight

I can’t believe that I’m saying this but it has to be that mushroom carpaccio. What a lovely surprise!

In summary

Cradle clearly crafts its dishes with a lot of love and attention, and the cafe’s commitment to using quality local produce should be applauded. The food was perfectly pleasant, but could have been a bit more filling. All in all, I admire the Cradle ethos, and really do wish it very well.

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