There’s a reason why @Twenty5 is the best restaurant in Ipswich…
(according to the customer reviews website TripAdvisor). This characterful little bistro on fashionable St Nicholas Street is bursting with friendliness and atmosphere. Chef/owners Mel and Nigel greet diners as dinner party guests and they’ve nailed the cheery welcome. On a windy wintry mid-week evening @Twenty5 is bustling with regulars and walk-ins – including a couple of Town players – as well as a party of 10 in the upstairs room. They’re fully booked most weekends up to a month ahead – no mean feat for a newcomer provincial restaurant post-Chrispost-recession. The secret of their success – and the rave reviews online which have catapulted @Twenty5 to top of the charts – is that winning combination of fabulous food and a happy ambience.
Starters such as a lovely salad of Gressingham duck, or salt and pepper squid with a tiny pot of aioli are light, tasty and expertly executed. Choosing from a menu stacked with wholesome favourites for a main – like chicken chasseur, slow roast pork belly with puy lentils or chilli prawn and crab linguine – alongside beer battered fish and chips, steak and the extraordinary house burgers, is not as easy as it seems. The daily specials are inventive and keep the steady stream of regulars very happy – and there are many who come more than once a week. Chalked above the kitchen they offer off-menu treats like succulent lamb rump with a huge pile of black olive mash and a garnish of a nicoise salad of green beans and roasted tomatoes, or pan-fried venison with fennel and poached cherries, with a cheeky swirl of chocolate – or an exquisite pan-fried and fabulously fresh, sea bass on a bed of dill crushed new potatoes accompanied by asparagus finished with salsa verde.
The restaurant is bright and buzzing. The super friendly waiting staff, in jeans, white Converse and long linen aprons, glide about the rooms – upstairs, downstairs and in the heated marquee covering the courtyard garden, adorned with sparkly lights. Nothing flaps the affable attenders to each table – and the chefs and waiting staff all pass by to share genuine interest in the food, its freshness and flavours.
The desserts are all good favourites – executed with style and imagination – like banoffee pie, crème brule, sticky toffee pudding or warm chocolate brownie. @Twenty5 has found its niche – lovely food, lovely people, lovely place. A lot of hard work and passion has paid off and they deserve the accolades of their many fans.
Reviewer: Louise Cullen
Photography: Anthony Cullen