Have you eaten at this exclusive lunch club - on a Suffolk industrial estate?

Pheasant with pickled baby beetroot, beetroot shrub and heirloom tomatoes

Pheasant with pickled baby beetroot, beetroot shrub and heirloom tomatoes - Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis

An industrial estate on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds seems an unlikely location for fine dining. And yet... 

Trundle along the A14, nip off at Rougham, follow the blue signs and you’ll find yourself at ICE. A café/restaurant/cookery school/chef shop combo run by Jon and Lou Jackaman and their merry team. 

Amazingly, despite (in Jon’s own admission) being at the back end of nowhere, ICE attracts 400 to 600 people every week for its cool vibes, cool food, cool music – everything the couple love. 

A jewel in the crown of the business is the ICE lunch bar (with a supper club now too), which, offering just over a dozen seats per session, sells out in a flash.  

More so the Seasons dining experience, priced at £165 per person, taking place quarterly, with the chefs going to town on a menu of food and drink that’ll make your jaw drop...and yes, some people’s really did as chef Jon rattled off tasters of a recent Seasons event (tallow dipped, aged beef...plum sake). 

It can be quite intimidating dining alone, which is why the communal dining arrangement is so brilliant. On my visit (solo) there were couples celebrating birthdays, families, people who’d been given gift vouchers. A lovely crowd. Everyone in a jovial mood, ready for a bit of fun, and a few drinks over good food. It was easy to get a conversation going. 

The premise of the lunch bar is this. There are no rules. Really. Jon and head chef Barney (who devises much of the menu, which can stretch from eight to 10 courses) lay it on the line right from the start. Lick your fingers. Lick the bowl. Steal food from the plate next to you...although I don’t recommend that one! 

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Set-up theatre style in the brand-new demonstration kitchen, the room gives diners an up close and personal experience. Perched on the comfy bench-style seating, you get to see everything, from sauteeing, to plating, to the drama of ice cream being whipped in dry ice.  

One diner pointed out they thought there’d be more swearing, a la the telly kitchens of Gordan Ramsay. No, none of that. These guys are pros. 

Armed with a very nice Bohemian Garden booze-free cocktail, a type of elderflower-infused mojito, the air redolent with smoked paprika, lunch began at 12.30pm with a few notes from Jon about ICE -and Infusions’ 20-year journey. It’s amazing to think this business supplies all the Michelin-starred restaurants in the UK with equipment and specialist ingredients. 

Infusions4Chefs, which sells everything from beautiful tableware to smoking guns, exquisite olive oil and the wherewithal for molecular gastronomy, has been listed as one of the top 50 food websites in the world. 

Talking about the restaurant he says it’s “our vibe, our way, our food.” 

And so began the dining, starting with the guys’ take on Greek kolokythokeftedes – salty, sharp fritters of courgette, feta and mint to get the tastebuds going. 

These were swiftly followed by one of my favourite dishes of the afternoon. A smudge of beetroot shrub (beetroot infused in horseradish vinegar) with pickled beetroot, juicy sweet heirloom tomatoes, and Rougham Estate pheasant. The shrub was an elixir, tinged with anise. Almost drinkable. The pheasant tender, with crisp skin. The tomatoes fragrant. A balanced, scrumptious plate of food. 

After a shot of the horseradish vinegar – which can only be described as invigorating – it's onto the salt beef. Phwoar I love a bit of salt beef. Here they’d taken topside Hereford, salted and brined it, smoked it and cooked it low and slow. It was tumbled into a hash with potato, brown sauce, onions and Henderson’s Relish, with a little smoky baba ganoush tucked underneath. The overall flavour was sharp, a little smoky and with a lingering heat. I did feel the taste of the beef was lost a little. If they’d toned down the sharpness it would have sung more. 

A cauliflower steak was next, cooked in their own curry powder blend. It needed more salt, but was married with a vinegar gel and sweet golden raisin puree which came together nicely. 

Everyone wants to know how Jon and Barney cooked the hake kiev. The crumbing was featherlight, with not a hint of grease. A crunchy shell, concealing tender flakes of fish, and a trickle of scented butter. Like the best fishfinger you ever had. 

We all swooned over the yuzu sorbet, freshly made just moments before. Silky, almost creamy in texture, it sparkled with citrus, the yuzu giving over hints of mandarin. Beautiful. 

Then came a stonker of a pud...which was quite experimental to say the least. An apple crumble. But not as you know it. One that led a fellow diner to say it was better than his mum’s. Harsh. She was sitting two seats away, but apparently makes an awesome roast beef. 

Created for The Dirty Dozen barbecue competition – and going on to win – the bowl offered a textured Bramley apple puree, all sweet and succulent. A smoked oaty crumble topping with shards of homemade black pudding. And a dry ice vanilla ice cream combined with homemade bacon jam ice cream. Altogether it was a sensation. A party in the mouth. The ice cream especially hit all the right notes for me, its taste somewhere along the lines of rich coffee and popcorn, with a hint of salinity. Ice cream crack. 

The final offering was a ‘Bounty’ bar of coconut with freeze dried raspberry in dark chocolate. I’m allergic to the berries so they conjured me up my only ball of pistachio, coconut and condensed milk. A kind of Indian sweet, and the perfect accompaniment to a decaff Crude coffee latte – as recommended by the front of house manager. 

We ate well. We had a lot of laughs. And we learnt a lot (from why Jay clothes are a kitchen essential, to how to cure fish and make goats’ cheese powder). What more could you want from an afternoon? 

If you want to give it a try you’ll need to book quick! It’s £60 per person at icecookschool.co.uk