Restaurant review, Twenty One at The Greyhound, Wickhambrook: "Pies to drive out of your way for"
PUBLISHED: 18:30 02 April 2019
Our food editor tries out this pub, which was nominated in the Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2018.
You know so-called ‘happy accidents’? Well, that’s exactly how we ended up at this pub. I’d had another in mind and stupidly hadn’t booked. “It’s a Thursday night. Restaurants don’t get fully booked on a Thursday,” I lectured my husband en route while he raised his eyebrows at me.
Turns out I was wrong and we ended up here, in Wickhambrook, where we got an unprecedented welcome. A couple of locals drinking at the bar said hello. And the pub puppy came over inquisitively to give us a sniff before heading back to play with his soft toy. A nice personable entrance without the ‘are you local?’ vibe which can sometimes be offputting in a village pub.
The bar area leads through to the restaurant, TwentyOne, where a crisp blue colour scheme set the tone. I wasn’t all that enamoured by the giant silver spoon, fork and Champagne flute décor on the walls, but each to their own.
Menu-wise there were lots of classics you’d expect to find, from steaks and burgers to fish, but Thursday was fortuitously pie night - £15 for a homemade pie and trimmings.
Our starters took a wee while to get to the table (the restaurant was busy) but while waiting we admired the lovely glasses all our drinks came in. Woad coloured water tumblers, a fine wineglass for my red, and what we coined ‘iceberg’ glasses for soft drinks – all cool and jagged in their design.
But onto the food. My husband declared his warm homemade Scotch egg the best he’s ever had. Praise indeed. Billed as a black pudding version, there was a little concern it would be pappy, but happily the kitchen had a light touch when it came to the pudding, using just enough to let you know it’s there without overpowering. The sausagemeat was crumbly and open-textured, the egg oozed a runny middle.
Feeling typically greedy I chose the Guinness rarebit. Presentation was a little underwhelming but then again, it’s basically cheese on toast. The molten topping was gooey and unctuous but overpowered I’m afraid by balsamic glaze which had been doused over the plate. Had they only dressed the salad garnish this would have been a real hit.
The main courses that followed were the strongest part of the meal. I don’t think I’ve seen Mr Jarvis inhale anything as quickly as the minced beef and onion pie he selected. The pastry was short without being too crumbly to eat, had been crimped nicely, and held within a thick, ridiculously beefy concoction of mince and melting onions. I say ridiculously because it tasted of the very essence of beef. The triple cooked chips were crisp. And there was a decent beef gravy to lash over the top. The only thing I would say is the veg was overcooked. My husband likes his this way, but if you prefer things al dente like me, you might want to make that request when you put your order in.
I picked the trio of pork - loin over butternut squash puree, a crumbed square of pulled pork and another of pork belly sitting over cabbage. And then…the waitress came back with roasted new potatoes, carrots and sprouting broccoli, plus a little pan of porky gravy which seemed to have a hint of cider. Obviously locals like their meat and two veg here and the pub have paid attention to that. I know my own parents are mightily unimpressed if they don’t have enough veg with their dinner when they eat out!
The pork loin was still juicy and each slice seasoned nicely. Underneath, the butternut puree needed a little more work. A bit of butter, some cream, some herbs maybe, to make it stand out. The crumbled pulled pork was gelatinous and melting, as was the, again, very well-seasoned belly with its crunchy top hat of rind. The new potatoes on the side were nicely cooked through but the veg, again, were almost bordering on mushy. A few minutes less would fare them better. But on the whole I had to take my hat off to the kitchen team for a great effort. Portions were incredibly generous and they are particularly adept at cooking meat.
Full to bursting, we shared a chocolate orange panna cotta. It tasted nice - a bit like an orange Smartie. But I’m afraid it wasn’t technically very good. So much gelatine had been used that the whole thing stuck to the spoon as we tried to cut into it. A lot of restaurants and pubs do this, so they’re not alone. Other tables had ordered the same and polished their plates so I guess I’m just a panna cotta snob – I like mine to wobble.
They had some local ales but not a huge selection so it would be nice to see a few more on the menu. We had a pint of nicely kept Woodforde’s. And I must say the glass of Boomerang Shiraz I had was great. Not a speck of oak or heavy tannins, it was a velvety easy drinker heavy with cherry plum and a touch of liquorice, slipping down a little too easily. I couldn’t help thinking I wished I’d spent the extra few pence for a larger glass!
The welcome was great and our waitress was ever so friendly and engaging. The manager also visited our table for drinks/service and was obviously really keen to please everyone in the room without being over the top. Good work.
There is a decent sized car park to the rear of the pub.
A ramp from the car park leads to the bar where there’s a small but navigable step into the building. Inside the layout is wheelchair friendly.
Spotless. And they smelled nice too.
A glass of wine, pint of beer, bottle of still water, two soft drinks, two starters and mains and a pudding was just over £70.
The pie. I said to the waitress they should make them frozen for customers to take home and cook.
Was our meal perfect? No, there were a few things which could be done to make it a touch better, but none of them would stop us returning to the pub for a hearty roast, and definitely for pie night with our children. This place is doing exactly what it says on the tin – it’s serving the community, and serving them well I’d say.