Food review, The Moloko, Ipswich: ‘My only regret was not ordering more’
- Credit: Danielle Lett
In my first dining out experience since restrictions lifted on Monday July 19, to say I was excited was an understatement.
My friend Jake and I decided to head out on a drizzly Friday evening, and escape Colchester for a few hours. While we both work in Ipswich, we don’t often venture out there socially - but I’d seen The Moloko pop up on social media and was certainly intrigued, so thought it would be a great way to spend an evening.
The Moloko is easy to find and pretty much in the centre of Ipswich. Located down Lion Street, when you come to the end of King Street, turn right and it’s there. It’s not hard to miss.
On its website, it markets itself as ‘a stylish and modern cocktail bar and restaurant that brings Spanish Tapas and Italian Cicchetti styles together, creating a chic yet casual dining experience’ - and that it does.
Upon entering, it’s easy to see what sort of clientele the restaurant is aiming for. From the black and gold bar, to the pink Instagram-fodder neon sign that reads ‘the music sounds better with you’ - it’s definitely the sort of place you’d find in Shoreditch or Hackney. But without the London prices – I'll get to that in a bit.
The restaurant is spread across two floors, and consists of a downstairs bar and seating area, an upstairs dining area, and an outdoor terrace.
The vibe differed across all three. We were seated upstairs, which was more subdued and was perfect as it wasn’t too loud to have a chinwag over. As the night went on, music from downstairs gradually pumped through the speakers upstairs. If we didn’t have a train to catch once we’d finished our meal, we’d definitely would’ve ordered a couple more drinks and made our way downstairs to the terrace to soak up the evening atmosphere.
Now, onto the food and drinks. I hadn’t gone out for tapas in the longest time, and in all honesty, tapas and cocktails in Ipswich in July was probably going to be closest I was going to get to a Spanish getaway this year.
Once we were seated, first on the agenda was obviously cocktails. My all-time favourite cocktail is an amaretto sour, and while Jake isn’t a big cocktail drinker, he went for the mojito. The two came to £16 together, and were both really refreshing.
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In terms of the wider alcohol selection, there’s a few beers on draught including Estrella (because it wouldn’t be tapas without Estrella), a fairly sizeable wine menu, and your typical bottled beers and spirits you’d expect to find in any decently-stocked restaurant. Every kind of drinker will definitely have their thirst adequately quenched here, there’s no doubt about that.
As we sipped our cocktails, we both excitedly pawed through the menu and were overwhelmed at the selection on offer. The tapas menu is divided into meat, fish, and vegetable tapas, and features 17 different dishes.
There’s also a brunch menu between 11am and 2pm (which also includes bottomless brunch for £34.95), a lunchtime set menu between 11am and 2.30pm, and a few larger plates which are essentially mains.
We knew we wanted to sample a bit of everything, so we got two meat tapas dishes, two fish ones, and one vegetable one to share.
From the meat menu, we ordered Brochetas de Langostinos y Chorizo (prawn skewers with chorizo - £7.95) and Basque Barriga de Cerdo Pintxo (crispy pork belly bites slow cooked in fennel, paprika and Galician lager - £7.95). The pairing of the smoky meat with the shellfish made for a really tasty pairing when it came to the skewers – but the star of the show had to be the crispy pork belly bites.
I’m a sucker for pork belly, and this couldn’t have been cooked more perfectly. It was the right amount of crispy yet tender, and every bite left me wanting more. If you’re a fan of pork belly, I’d suggest getting two orders of this (or more) for the table, as three pieces wasn’t enough.
From the fish menu, we went for Calamares fritos (squid rings, deep fried and served with garlic mayonnaise - £6.95), and Gamberoni alla Griglia (seasoned and grilled tiger prawns, served partially in their shell - £8.95).
Both were, quite frankly, exquisite. It’s always a bit of gamble ordering calamari because it can sometimes be a bit too rubbery and chewy, but this was cooked perfectly. Like with the beef, Jake and I were politely offering each other the last piece, hoping the other would say no so we could have it ourselves. That’s when you know the tapas is good. The tiger prawns were plentiful and packed a bit of a punch. As someone who isn’t a big spice fiend, these were perfect.
And finally, the vegetable tapas we ordered was the Champinoes Alhorno (mushrooms in a creamy garlic and rosemary sauce, topped with cheese and baked in the oven - £5.95). As a huge cheese lover, this dish could not be more me. It absolutely oozed cheesiness, and the mushrooms themselves were delicious. We actually kept going back to this, and dipping our other dishes in the cheese sauce, it was that moreish. All in all, we opted for some great dishes, and my only regret was not ordering more.
Five shared dishes later, and we were pretty satisfied – but we still had room for dessert. As I said in my last review, I’m an absolute sucker for cheesecake, and anytime I see it on a menu I just have to have it. So while I ordered the cheesecake of the day with ice cream (£5.95), Jake went for the chocolate brownie with ice cream (£5.95). My cheesecake was rich, and covered in chocolate caramel pieces. You simply can’t go wrong. The chocolate brownie was also heavenly, and really moist and decadent. We also washed our desserts down with two medium glasses of pinot grigio (£5 each).
One thing that really stood out to me was the presentation of the dishes. They all really felt gourmet, and I was almost dreading getting the bill until I remembered how reasonably priced everything was. Five dishes between two people, two desserts, two cocktails and two glasses of wine all came to £75.65.
And in terms of the service, it couldn’t be faulted. The wait staff gave us enough time to look over the menu, but didn’t leave us waiting too long to take our order. We didn’t feel rushed, nor did we feel forgotten about, which can often happen when you dine out at that time on a weekend.
The staff were also all masked up, which was great. While although it’s not a legal requirement now, it’s still great to see people wearing them where possible as we’re not fully out of the pandemic yet. And a lot of the younger crowd, like myself, aren’t fully vaccinated yet.
Not only did we feel safe (and very, very full), it felt great to be surrounded by people who looked like they were having a great time. The sound of music playing, the clatter of cocktail shakers shaking, and the buzz of people chatting really made for a wonderful evening.
Moloko’s location, décor, atmosphere and reasonably-priced menu all come together to create a fantastic night out. It might’ve been my first time there, but it certainly won’t be my last.