Knives out for moaning Martijn

KITCHEN knives are out for Blues star Martijn Reuser today after he took a swipe at the Ipswich restaurant scene, claiming good food cannot be found on the town's menus.

By James Fraser

KITCHEN knives are out for Blues star Martijn Reuser today after he took a swipe at the Ipswich restaurant scene, claiming good food cannot be found on the town's menus.

After the Dutch playmaker admitted he looked forward to trips to London so he could get a decent meal, restaurateurs have boiled up into a right stew.

On the contrary the traffic is definitely the other way. More and more people travelling from London to discover Ipswich's culinary delights, they said.

But turning his attention from pace-setting to place settings, midfielder Reuser has other ideas.

"Ipswich and her surroundings have a lot to offer but unfortunately good food is definitely not one of them," the £3million-rated player said on his official website.

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And he went on to issue a bizarre challenge in a county town which prides itself on its culinary excellence.

"If my opinion will ever inspire any decent chef to start a restaurant in town, I can assure him or her he will have a loyal customer in my girlfriend and me," he said.

The high-rolling Tractor Boy, whose price tag means he can afford to dine out in style, made his comments following the Dagenham and Redbridge FA Cup tie earlier this month.

"Winning 4-1 whetted my appetite, so every time we play in London I treat myself to a good meal," he said.

Explaining his controversial comments to The Evening Star, he said that Ipswich could not compete with the metropolitan buzz he has experienced in cities such as London, Madrid or Barcelona.

"London has something special," said the 26-year-old.

"I'd like to see a restaurant with a classy atmosphere but that's difficult to create because London has a certain atmosphere all of its own.

"If you go to Amsterdam, Madrid or Barcelona there is a certain vibe and you just don't have that in Ipswich. I'm not being negative, it's just something you have to accept. It would be the same if you compared a small town in Holland to, say Amsterdam, it would be the same."

But Ipswich chefs have found criticisms from the Dutchman hard to stomach, especially as his countrymen's main contribution to world cuisine is chips and mayo - and raw herring.

"We are stylish enough," fumed Ugur Vata, patron chef at The Galley Restaurant, whose star clientele includes Reuser's teammates Matteo Sereni, Fabian Wilnis, Hermann Hreidarsson, and even Reuser himself.

"It's just that Ipswich does not provide London-style restaurants," he said.

"When people discover a good restaurant they are too selfish to tell their friends about the hidden gems they find.

"We have had a top writer and a national newspaper columnist come in and ask 'Why haven't we heard of you?' That's why … people want to keep their discoveries to themselves.

"Ipswich has really accelerated in the last five years as a town but we don't get the national recognition. In some restaurants in Ipswich, and not just in my restaurant, you can get the best quality, fresh products - and with Suffolk College we are home to one of the best catering schools in the country so there's even greater things ahead in future.

"Ipswich provides some of the best of everything from Thai, tapas, Indian, even Vietnamese," he said.

Other restaurant owners in Ipswich have found the Dutchman's comments a bit rich.

Catering staff at The Centre Spot, the Tractor Boys' own fashionable eaterie at Portman Road, have bristled at his judgements on Suffolk cuisine.

"There are some good establishments in Ipswich," said Alex Irving, general catering manager at the restaurant which, although it is only open to the public at lunchtime, catered for more than 5,000 customers last month alone.

"It depends where you go and to be fair, Martijn hasn't been that long in the area. London is a very different place to Ipswich.

"It's extremely cosmopolitan and it is hard to compare it to a small town, even if it should have city status. But there are still a good few handful of places to choose from when you want to go to eat out."

"If he wants a good curry he should come here," said curryhouse owner Rana Miah from the modern setting of the Koh-i-Noor restaurant in Ipswich.

"We can compete with London. East Anglia is always moving on - you just have to look in the right places."