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Restaurant review: Casa, Bury St Edmunds

PUBLISHED: 14:49 27 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:49 27 August 2018

Squid with chorizo  Picture: Archant

Squid with chorizo Picture: Archant

Archant

Charlotte Smith-Jarvis was pleasantly surprised by this independent Med restaurant in Bury St Edmunds.

Baba Ganoush  Picture: ArchantBaba Ganoush Picture: Archant

Food

“Almost all the menu can be made vegetarian most of it’s gluten-free,” smiled our waitress, “oh, and we have vegan dressings and cheese too so we can do lots of things vegan as well.”

Blimey, when my hungry, post 100k running veggie mate Rachel heard that her eyes lit up greedily. This was soon followed by: “gawd, I don’t know what to choose now!”

It’s not often vegetarians or vegans have more choice than they can shake a cucumber at. She was stumped and looked at me with pleading eyes to make a decision. Guided that we should have two to three dishes each (they’re all tapas sized) we (of course) chose the latter of three dishes – five vegetarian and one meat and fish for me (followed later by more meat, but we’ll get to that soon).

Tempura halloumi and falafels  Picture: ArchantTempura halloumi and falafels Picture: Archant

The plates, prettily decorated and smelling gorgeous, arrived as and when they were ready.

First up a dish of baba ganoush which I’m happy to report wasn’t watery and insipid. Nope, this was the real deal, with a deep, savoury smokiness imbuing Middle Eastern mysteriousness into every creamy bite. A pop of fresh pomegranate on top added colour and sweet/sourness. And the flatbreads were excellent. We did have to order more bread though so we could mop up the lot!

As Rach did her best to devour the remaining baba, my terracotta pot of squid and chorizo turned up. You might think that’s not particularly interesting…but you’d be wrong. The scored, postage stamp sized pieces of squid were succulent and tender and the chorizo was very definitely of the best quality, being crumbly and subtly hot with a pow of paprika and smoke. A heavy dose of garlic ran through the dish but I am a fiend for the stuff and loved every bite. Subtle this was not!

After this arrived a long platter of lettuce leaves topped with a lentil and quinoa salad. For us, this one wasn’t quite so successful. The bare bones of it were good, but it needed a really punchy dressing – some lemon and herbs perhaps, to bring it all together. It worked better as an accompaniment to the squid and baba ganoush than as a plate of food on its own.

Vegan coconut and passionfruit cheesecake  Picture: ArchantVegan coconut and passionfruit cheesecake Picture: Archant

We were both in raptures over the tempura halloumi, which was followed in quick succession by falafels with muhammara. The halloumi were gently oozing underneath a light, crisp batter, then trickled with a warm pomegranate molasses dressing. It hit possibly every tastebud that mattered and I reckon could even turn a sceptical omnivore to the green-side. Total yum.

The falafels were a tad crumbly but really flavoursome and the muhammara (a walnut and red pepper dip) was perfection – sweet, nutty and wholesome.

I’d spied slow cooked pork belly with potatoes and spices on the menu at the start and, obviously not wanting to deny Rach her fair share of vegetables I ordered it towards the end of the meal.

The pork was fatty (in a good way) and utterly golden and unctuous, with a strong essence of cumin about it. And the potatoes underneath were meltingly soft. I couldn’t help thinking though, as with the quinoa platter, that this needed a sauce. A slick of aioli would have been fab as it was a bit too dry.

Also dry were the stuffed peppers which although yieldingly soft, were quite uninteresting with their filling of veg, rice and tomato. They needed something to pep them up a little.

And onto pudding. Rachel was sold by the glitter spray adorning both plates. Very pretty. We were stunned by how flavoursome the vegan passionfruit and coconut cheesecake was. Sat on a date and walnut base, the cashew nut and coconut cream topping, surrounded by a passionfruit gel/sauce, tasted wonderful. You couldn’t tell it was a free-from dessert at all. In fact, I was half tempted to go ask for the recipe it was that good.

Also scoring highly on the pud-o-meter, was a chocolate and rose brownie. It was a little crumbly, but served warm, with Turkish delight ice cream, every bite was joyful. The rose taste was there in the brownie batter, but it didn’t overpower the deliciously dark notes of bitter chocolate. Lovely.

What a great night out. Not everything was perfect, but we’re keen to go back and try more!

Drinks

There was a cocktail list and good wine selection. I ordered a non-alcoholic mojito – very refreshing. And Rachel ordered a large glass of pinot, which was pretty steep at £9 but was florally and zingy enough to justify the price. She also loved the fact it came in a carafe to pour into the glass as she wished.

Service

Faultless. On par with 1921 (also in Bury) where I think the service is also excellent. Our waitress was bubbly, friendly without being over-the-top, and was also very knowledgeable about the menu. She definitely enhanced our experience on the night.

Accessibility

There’s a rather big step to navigate at the entrance but there is a back entrance through the garden which might be easier for wheelchair and stick users.

Ambiance

Yeah yeah it might seem a bit cheesy to decorate a restaurant with fairy lights and faux plants but we thought they’d done it pretty well here – and they obviously dust the plants regularly as there wasn’t a furry vine leaf in sight. There were lots of nooks and crannies to sit in, as well as big open spaces for groups.

Parking

We parked outside on the road, not realising there’s a small car park to the rear of the restaurant. You access it from the left of the building. Otherwise park nearby at the Arc shopping centre.

Price

Our bill came to £61 for two drinks, a basket of bread, seven tapas and two desserts. Not bad going.

Highlight

It’s between the tempura halloumi, the squid and the cheesecake. I can’t call it.

Summary

A thoughtful independent restaurant that obviously has a passion for what it does. Most of the dishes we tried were excellent but let down by a few that needed a little something extra to make them sparkle. These didn’t detract though from our overall impression of this place, which is that it’s a great, down-home place to eat. We have already planned to go back – and take more friends with us.

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