Review: Long-established vegan, vegetarian and gluten free menus make dining at The Ferry Boat Inn in Felixstowe a breeze

Ferry boat inn old Felixstowe
Food and drink review

Ferry boat inn old Felixstowe Food and drink review

I visited the Ferry Boat Inn on a day, not so very long ago, when hail was still a common occurrence, writes Victoria Richman.

Felixstowe Ferry Boat Inn - Food Review

Felixstowe Ferry Boat Inn - Food Review - Credit: Archant

Situated in the hamlet of Felixstowe Ferry, the Ferry Boat Inn is right near the water and it was therefore pretty bracing when we arrived, though very scenic. Luckily, as soon as we (my fiancé Tim and I) entered the Ferry Boat Inn we were met with warmth – from the log burner and the kind welcome from the team.

Built in the 15th century, the Ferry Boat Inn is all you’d want from a traditional coastal pub, with low-beamed ceilings, a welcoming fire and plenty of comfortable seating with beautiful views across the water. There is also a lovely light garden room, which is ideal for private parties.

One of the main draws for me was that The Ferry Boat had a gluten-free menu. I recently found out I have a wheat intolerance and dining out was proving to be a bit difficult. The Ferry Boat Inn has been providing gluten and dairy-free options for a number of years now, long before some other eateries jumped on the bandwagon.

I have to admit that the gluten-free menu is much smaller than the main menu, but this is only to be expected really and seems to be the case in most establishments. Even though it was smaller, it still gave a good selection of meals, including four starters, nine mains and quite a large selection of desserts. There was a wide range of options, including seafood such as fresh grilled cod or haddock with lemon and butter, as well as steak and vegetarian choices, like the three bean casserole.

Felixstowe Ferry Boat Inn - Food Review

Felixstowe Ferry Boat Inn - Food Review - Credit: Archant

Most of the specials could also be made gluten-free, and there were plenty, including freshly caught fish and seafood dishes.

The main menu is absolutely huge – you’re definitely spoilt for choice here. It’s split into sections, fish, beef, pork, lamb etc, and also has vegetarian and even vegan options, which are often hard to find. It covers a range of foods, including several pub classics, such as a hefty homemade steak and Adnams pie and wholetail breaded scampi with chunky chips.

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We finally made our decision, Tim opting for the shredded duck tortilla wrap with plum sauce and julienne vegetables and fresh salad leaves to start and the ‘The Three Little Pigs’ as a main, which was recommended by our server. This menu favourite comprised slow roast pork belly, black pudding, crispy bacon, apple sauce and crispy crackling, with creamy mashed potato, crunchy vegetables and a honey mustard jus.

I opted for the locally smoked shell-on prawns served with toasted gluten-free bread to start and the mixed vegetable Thai green curry with coconut and ground almonds, served with basmati rice, for a main.

Felixstowe Ferry Boat Inn - Food Review

Felixstowe Ferry Boat Inn - Food Review - Credit: Archant

Our starters arrived promptly and we were both surprised by the size. Tim’s duck wrap could have done perfectly well as a main and I had a heap of plump prawns with a generous serving of mayonnaise, bread and salad. My prawns were absolutely delicious, definitely not wilted frozen ones but fresh and juicy. I was also very impressed with the bread – most gluten-free bread has a powdery aftertaste but with this you couldn’t tell the difference.

Tim was similarly impressed with his duck wrap. It had spring onion, cucumbers and peppers in to give it crunch, combined with a plum sauce that was indulgent but not so rich that it was overly filling. The duck was very tender.

It was not surprising that our mains were generous portions too. As soon as my curry was put down, I could feel the heat coming off it and the smell was amazing – aromatic and with a kick that caught in your throat and promised spices. I quite often make Thai green curry at home but this was on a whole other level and put my attempts with a can of coconut milk and a jar of curry paste to shame. The sauce was a perfect balance of creamy yet hot, with the fizz of the green chillies. Unlike a lot of curries this didn’t feel overly rich and greasy, but almost refreshing. It also had several different types of vegetables in, so I felt almost healthy eating it.

My only issue was that I would have liked more sauce. I like to drown my rice in it but there was really just enough to cover the vegetables. But this is a personal preference and the sauce that was there was delicious.

Ferry boat inn old Felixstowe
Food and drink review

Ferry boat inn old Felixstowe Food and drink review

Tim’s Three Little Pigs was a completely different type of meal but still pulled off spectacularly, proof that the restaurant can handle different genres of food. The crackling was lovely and crunchy while the pork belly was so soft and flavourful, the rich meat taste contrasting wonderfully with the mustard jus. The bacon and black pudding were all welcome additions too, making this a meat lover’s dream. Though he liked it Tim couldn’t finish it, and he is not a man of small appetite.

As we were both very full by this point we decided to share a dessert and had to choose from the gluten-free menu. Luckily there were lots of options, including warm chocolate brownie, rhubarb and ginger sorbet and apple crumble. We opted for a Bakewell tart, a favourite for us both. Unlike the rest of the food the tart was not freshly made. I believe it’s supplied to the pub by a company which specialises in gluten-free food. It perhaps wasn’t on the same level as the rest of the meal, but it had a pleasant contrast of fruity jam and mild almond.

The normal desserts are made on site and I’m sure are delicious.

We really enjoyed our meal and were happy to discover this gem of a restaurant in a hamlet we didn’t even know existed. I look forward to visiting during the summer – it’s the perfect place to enjoy a pint and meal after a beach walk.

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