Food review: Baileys 2 "That's much bigger than I expected"
- Credit: Simon Weir/Archant
Market day in Bury St Edmunds. Car parks are packed and streets are busy with pedestrians, the market square a buzz with shoppers. If it wasn't for the QR codes in the shop windows and the occasional person wearing a mask, you'd be hard pushed to tell there was still a pandemic on - it feels like life as normal.
I'm taking my parents out for lunch, heading to Whiting Street in Bury where rumour has it you can find the best cup of coffee in town, at the compact Baileys 2 cafe. It's properly busy and we have to queue - this is a pandemic difference, as we're queuing outside rather than waiting inside for a table to come free. I don't mind: the popularity suggests we've come to the right place and, after the year the hospitality sector's had, I'm delighted to see places being busy.
There's a nice atmopshere inside, with a few tables at the front and then a bigger seating area at the back. We're on one of the tables at the front, temptingly near the display of cakes and slices. My father orders a mug of latte - which is pretty close to my idea of a bucket of coffee when it arrives. I go for a flat-white, though the waitress apologises for her attempt at painting a heart on top of it...
It doesn't matter what it looks like: it tastes excellent. A nice chocolatey roast, not too bitter, with gently frothy but unscalded milk. The latte isn't quite as potent as the more-concentrated flat white, but gets a vote of approval from my father.
I'd had my heart set on an indulgent all-day breakfast... but I'm crestfallen to realise that breakfast isn't an all-day option. Instead I go to the other extreme of the dietary spectrum and look at the salads: there's a huge range, mostly at £7.50, but my eye is drawn to the specials board and the Baileys 2 Caesar salad, which has prawns as well as chicken.
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When it arrives, I'm slightly staggered. "That's much bigger than I was expecting," I gasp. It's the most expensive salad option (£9) but still not what I'd call pricey and it's a lunch menu... but this is a huge portion. There's lots of avocado, good crunchy breadcrumbs, it's generous with the chicken and with the prawns - though being picky, I'd have liked a bit more cheese in it and I could have done without the prawns; a traditional Caesar salad would have been fine - this is more a chicken-and-prawn-salad, but it's very tasty and is a very generous serving.
That's also true of the soup my mother's gone for - Butternut Squash with a peanut-oil glaze (£4.50 for a small bowl). She professes to be sceptical about this and asks for it to come in a separate pot, rather than on the soup (top marks to the staff for accommodating odd requests). Once it arrives, she declares it to be delicious and drizzles it on cheerfully. "It really lifts the soup - it's delicious," is the verdict. Her only criticism is that the accompanying bread is slices rather than rolls.
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My father's toastie of locally cured ham, blue stilton and sliced tomato (£6.50) is one of more than 30 options before even going to the specials board. It comes with salad and coleslaw ("How does that compare with mine?" asks mother. "Not as much carrot," says the diplomat, avoiding revealing if it's better or worse). There's a choice of bread - in this case granary is used - and the filling is generous, with plenty of ham. It's not only very tasty but also very filling - to the extent that pudding is off the agenda.
I'm prepared to press on with a second course, purely in the interests of journalism you understand, putting my waistline on the line to get a review (that's my excuse, anyway). The range of cakes and puddings is temptingly extensive and yet I fall back on the chocolate brownie (£4.95) served warm with ice cream. On one level, I should have been more adventurous, but at the same time the brownie is a great leveller: you know what a good one should be... and this one's not as good as I'd hoped. It's clearly from the edge of the baking tray and one side is so solid I can't cut it with the edge of the spoon. Which is a shame as the centre is deliciously, richly fudgy as a brownie should be - though I can't assess the texture of the top as the ice cream has melted on it. So: top marks for taste, slight black mark for texture.
Having spotted it on the specials board, my mother meanwhile has decided to have a drink as a pudding. The special drink (£4.50). This is essentially a chocolate milkshake on steroids, made with Snickers, served with Snickers, topped with cream and nuts and chocolate and a toffee sauce. It's every bit as indulgent - and delicious - as it sounds.
Overall, I am very impressed with Baileys 2 - the food was good, fresh, tasty and the portions were generous. It was one brownie-edge away from being a perfect lunch... and the coffee really was superb. For £35.35 for a filling midday meal for three, I'd say that's good value. I'll definitely be back - and next time I'll be braver with the puddings.
For more information, see www.baileys2.co.uk
We pay for our meals and cafes do not know when they are being reviewed.