Scutchers Restaurant Review, Long Melford
|Author: Nick Hughes||Published: 2nd October 2015 07:52|
Seared Isle of Skye scallops with cauliflower and Parmesan puree Iberico Bellota ham starter
Restaurant Review of Scutchers in Long Melford
It is often said by political commentators that “Voters crave authenticity”. As truisms go, this is also very relevant for the restaurant business. Those of us who are inured by over elaborate menus, over sized plates and an over reliance on offering anything and everything that might draw the punters in will be refreshingly delighted by Nick and Di Barrett’s Scutchers in Long Melford.
“I can’t sell something I don’t believe in” is Nick’s philosophy and one that has served Scutchers brilliantly since he and Di opened the restaurant in 1991. This endearingly honest approach courses throughout the whole Scutchers experience from the gloriously non-invasive waiting staff through to the gem-laden wine list.
The fact that Scutchers only opens on Thursday, Friday and Saturday lunch and dinner times is, at first glance, a seemingly lost opportunity to “sweat the asset”. This may be so but Nick sees it differently – being open only three days a week allows him, Di and the Scutchers team time to focus on just six opportunities each week to provide excellent dining experiences. And less is certainly more because the food is superb.
Starters range from £7 to £13. The smoked haddock topped with cheese rarebit on a tomato salad provided enough contrast to be genuinely interesting whilst retaining the gentle taste of the haddock. The Seared Isle of Skye scallops with cauliflower and Parmesan puree Iberico Bellota ham in a rich jus were beautifully presented and very good. Scallops are subtly tasty but, in isolation, can be a tad bland. However the choice of the Iberico ham was the perfect foil in offering a texture and flavour change.
All the main courses are around £20. The fillet of sea bass on a crab and parmesan mash with a lime butter sauce was beautifully done allowing the fish to retain its moisture and flavour assisted by a supporting cast of the sweet crab taste contrasting elegantly with the lime butter sauce. The roast loin of lamb with buttered spinach and a hint of garlic and gravy with rosti potatoes allowed Nick to really demonstrate his prowess in the kitchen. It was genuinely tender and perfectly offset by the crisp rosti throne on which it had triumphantly entered.
All the puddings are priced at £7.50 and the vanilla Crème Brulee with a compote of cherries featured a disc of hard caramel that had the tempting thickness of a newly frozen puddle atop a custard with texture as smooth as a top salesman. Within the custard, the vanilla pods were scattered with such exacting frequency that it looked as though the pudding had been created by Nasa scientists as opposed to Nick’s skilful hands.
The choice of cheeses at Scutchers feature perennial classics such as Colston Basset Stilton, Davidstow Cheddar and Brie de Meaux but with the addition of a couple of Irish guests in Coolea and Ardrahan. These are priced at £7 for two and £9 for three and are served with biscuits and onion jam.
The wine list is extensive but not daunting. It is well thought out and there are some great value nuggets waiting to be discovered – a 2010 Chablis Premier Cru at £42 being a good example. Nick stocks what he likes through two main wine dealers and again the emphasis is on relevance rather then effect.
There are just 50 covers at Scutchers and they do one sitting only because they want to give their guests every chance of enjoying themselves.
With Scutchers undertaking a three day working week, you might think that Nick and Di have struck a fairly relaxed work/life balance. Not a bit of it. The rest of the week sees the team contracted on all manner of private functions from christenings to weddings. Nick gives cookery lessons from the restaurant and is an organiser of the Taste of Sudbury Food and Drink festival in June. They also produce their own smoked salmon from a smokery at the back of Scutchers.
Nick’s Shakespearean mantra of being true to thyself is apparent in the way that he sources all his produce. Whilst he acknowledges that he buys local where he can, he is not prepared to compromise on quality and buys only what he sees is the best. And it shows. The food was not only excellent but presented professionally by Di and her charming but unfussy front of house team. There were no square plates, incongruous slates, unnecessary sauces, waiters with an inability to not interrupt or overly articulated descriptions on the menu. Sure, there are cheaper places to eat in Suffolk but Scutchers is genuinely good and because it’s open only three days a week, it delivers a dining experience that will be memorable for all the right reasons.