First look: Inside The Moloko - Ipswich's newest bar and restaurant
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Anyone into 90s dance music will be familiar with the name Moloko (of Bring it Back fame). The more culturally astute will associate it with A Clockwork Orange – as the slang term for milk.
But as of this week, it’s also the name of a brand-new restaurant and bar in Ipswich.
The Moloko, at 8 Lion Street, has opened in the place of Aqua Eight, and is a passion project for friends and business partners Zoe Cutting and Valter Gremi.
The duo, who run the weddings and events business and The Manor Restaurant at the Belstead Brook hotel in the town, have long talked about opening a new venture together, and when the Aqua Eight building came up – jumped at the chance. Valter is no stranger to the premises, having been manager at the Asian fusion restaurant for 10 years.
“It’s just something we always talked about,” says Zoe of the venture. “I’m Ipswich born and bred, so whatever we did had to be here. And we both liked that building for the fact you can have dining upstairs and cocktails on the ground floor – maybe some dancing out at the back. We’re a bit nervous because we’re still in a pandemic, so it’s always a risk, but so far it’s been crazy. We've been inundated with bookings. And we have the most amazing chef who has years of experience and delivers the best quality food. I’m confident we’ve put together a really good team and this is something different for the town.
“It’s nice to have the Arcade Tavern next door as well. We want to pull people back into the town centre again. We think we can give them a reason to come out. I’m also really keen that we’re somewhere for everyone. From girlfriends having brunch in the mornings, to maybe the older generation coming in at lunchtime and feeling comfortable. There will be a DJ on Saturday evening for a bit of dancing in the courtyard and, for people like myself in their 40s, I think our live music downstairs on a Sunday will be great – Sunday afternoon is the new Saturday night!”
Zoe is keen to stress the level of attention put into the menus by the kitchen team, with local suppliers on board, including fish deliveries every day from Felixstowe.
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There are set lunch menus (just under £15 for three dishes), an a la carte menu for the evenings, and a bottomless brunch – which has taken off, with bookings taken for dates well into the summer.
“We looked at what the town offers at the moment,” says Zoe, “and identified a gap in the market. There wasn’t anywhere that just specialised in tapas with fresh ingredients, and not everyone wants to go out for a big three course meal. It’s a different way of dining, and it’s sociable.
Dishes include antipasti platters, chicken skewers with a ginger, chilli and Cajun glaze, pan-fried chorizo with sweet peppers, traditional Jamon croquetas, calamari, braised chickpeas with baby spinach in tomato and garlic sauce, pork tenderloin with patatas bravas, and a fish sharing platter.
“My favourite thing is the lobster with garlic butter and a hint of chilli. I love fresh lobster, you can’t beat it. And we have delicious pork belly bites which are absolutely to die for. There are some really really nice options.”
A menu of 10 to 12 cocktails is available, alongside prosecco on tap, and a wide selection of spirits and wines.
Now, what about that bottomless brunch?
“Oh my goodness, I can’t believe the response to that,” says Zoe. “The idea is you pay for your brunch, around £6 or £7 for things like smashed avo on sourdough, or eggs Florentine, maybe buttermilk pancakes, and then you pay £19.95 for two hours of bottomless drinks. It’s not just prosecco, we wanted to give more choice. So you could have a Bellini, Bloody Mary, Aperol Spritz or a Buck’s Fizz. We just wanted to expand it and make it more attractive. It’s served every day we’re open, so Wednesday to Sunday from 11am, with the last sitting at 2pm. And you can upgrade to have the lunch menu instead of the breakfast menu if you like.”
Zoe says the restaurant is fully booked for the opening weekend, and for most Fridays and Saturdays over the coming weeks.
“I’m just so grateful to the people of Ipswich for supporting us and booking. We’ve got high expectations to live up to but I’m sure people will come along and have an amazing time.”