Our food reviewer Mark Heath and his wife Liz headed to Gastrono-Me in Bury St Edmunds for a Wednesday night dinner. Here’s what they made of it…
Ah, Bury St Edmunds. The jewel in Suffolk’s crown, one of the UK’s finest towns – and fast becoming something of a must-visit foodie destination.
Bury punches well above its weight in terms of quality restaurants and eateries. Want fine dining? No problem – head to Michelin-starred Pea Porridge, the wonderful 1921, renowned Maison Bleue or perhaps choose the chef’s table at The Northgate.
Something less expensive but still cracking? Again, Bury has you covered – independent Italian Rustico, tremendous tapas Casa, marvelous Ming’s Oriental or sandwich scientists Wright’s are all fantastic options.
Gastrono-Me, though, is something different again – an all-day restaurant with locations in both Bury and Cambridge, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner and boasting that every dish is ‘crammed with flavour.’
Keen to put that claim to the test, we headed along on a Wednesday at around 6pm after a quick visit to our new favorite shop Vino Gusto – trust me, if you like wine, you need to go.
The interior of the restaurant is nice and light, lots of wood and hanging lights, and exudes modern, stylish vibes.
We took our seats and ordered up a couple of pints of Mahou lager (£5.45) while we perused the menu.
The dinner offering is large enough that you feel like there’s a wealth of choice – burgers, pasta, salads, tacos and bao buns – but not so large that you start to fret about quality control and lack of focus.
I immediately focused on my starter choice – what the frickle – as it combined two of my favorite things, namely dill pickles and deep-fried food.
Liz, a sucker for anything prawn-based, ordered up the kickin’ fried prawns, and we were off.
My freckles were certainly interesting. The tang from the pickle with the crunch and richness of the batter was a new combination for me, and it was definitely lifted by a good dip in Gastrono-me’s tangy ‘comeback’ sauce.
Liz’s prawns, meanwhile, were good. They looked most appetizing, served in a little cone, and again came with some of that comeback sauce – named, one can only assume, because you keep coming back to it. Accurate, I’d say.
The prawns were well-cooked and the crispy cajun coating was tasty, if not quite as crispy as one might hope.
Next up, main event time. We decided to share two main courses because, frankly, we both wanted to try the bao buns – an unusual offering in Bury – and the burger, a tried-and-tested quality indicator of any restaurant.
You can choose from two fillings for the bao – either spicy beef brisket or chilli prawns. We chose the former (£12.95), and it was good.
This bun trio were the highlight of our meal – light, pillowy, fluffy buns, encasing a delicious mix of beef brisket, Korean BBQ sauce, kimchi, coriander and pink pickled onions.
Honestly, I could have eaten six – or maybe even nine. Some of the best bao we’ve had anywhere.
The eponymous burger meanwhile (£12.95), was a solid effort. A good thick patty teamed with cheese, lettuce, onion, tomato, ‘ME’ sauce and ketchup, served in a fresh brioche bun.
It ate well – you didn’t feel like you had to dislocate your jaw to consume, as with some behemoth burgers served up these days – and packed everything you’d want from a burger.
For us, the patty could have been pinker – but that’s a personal choice. Worth noting too that there was both a veggie burger option and a new pulled pork offering.
Another point of issue before we move on. We ordered some house fries (£4.65) to team with our mains, and they were really good. Crispy, crunchy and lightly coated in bloody mary salt.
But having to pay extra for fries with a burger – no matter how good they are – did stick in the craw a bit.
Two courses down then, and we loosened our waist bands and bravely summoned the dessert menu.
Liz, who you’ll know is a self-crowned sticky toffee pudding aficionado, immediately opted for their ‘ultimate’ STP (£6.95) – quite the claim.
Across the table, I only had eyes for another dish combining two of my favorite things – a chocolate peanut butter brownie (£6.95). Be still, my beating heart.
Let’s start with the STP. While it was tasty and light, I’m afraid it still has a way to go before the ‘ultimate’ title can be justified – and that’s coming from a woman who has heroically tried hundreds in our fortunate foodie life to date.
My brownie was the better of the two desserts, sweet and salty at the same time, and served with a big dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream.
There were plenty of nuts embedded within, but I wanted even more of that peanut butter flavor. Worth noting here, as a point of balance, that I’m a man who has at least three jars of peanut butter in my cupboards at any given time, so perhaps I’m a little over-interested in that particular flavor.
A few final observations before I reach my conclusion. All told, our meal came to just over £90, which is definitely on the pricier side of things, even in Bury.
The service was friendly, if a little relaxed at times, and the atmosphere was generally good. And, while we sadly didn’t see any pooches while we were dining, Gastrono-Me is dog friendly.
I’m also told by several friends that their pancakes are excellent, should you fancy a breakfast visit.
Overall, I’d say that I applaud Gastono-Me’s ethos – an all-day restaurant with three different menus (breakfast, lunch and dinner) covering a range of cuisines.
Bury is packed with quality choices for food, and Gastrono-Me fits nicely within that.