One of the first posts I ever wrote was a review of a little deli/café I’d found tucked down a side-street in Bury St Edmunds called Gastronome.
I took my husband, Dan there for lunch and was in equal measure delighted and baffled. The building, location and aesthetic was unremarkable, unassuming and…..If I’m honest…..forgettable. But the ingredients, menu, people and passion were so brilliant I was drawn in and won over.
After a brief disappearance Gastronome reopened in a new, central location in March this year. Recently Dan and I made the long-anticipated first visit to Gastronome 2.0.
Aesthetically Gastronome has changed almost beyond recognition. Obviously the new premises was bound to look different but this is a significant re-brand for the little café. While you can still see the quirky sense of fun in the decor; it definitely has a more grown up feel. The whole place is well put together, feeling modern, comfortable and refreshingly individual. The lighting is what makes this place feel welcoming; it’s well placed and impeccably designed throughout, making the space feel warm and stylish.
Service is such an important factor for me. So much so it can make the difference between never visiting again and coming back time and time again. We arrived during a very busy lunch-time and the staff seemed genuinely distressed not to be able to find a table right away for us. No bother, we were happy to continue our shopping trip and return in 20 minutes when a table could be secured. (Next time we’ll remember to book!)
The service was fast, efficient and friendly – everything you could ask for. I felt a faint nostalgia reminiscing the days in the old premises when Mike, the owner, would stand at your table to passionately discuss various cheeses at length….Or rush back and forth between table and deli counter encouraging you to sample ingredients from the menu. Some of the personal experience is lost due to the size and popularity of the new place. Still, progress is progress I suppose.
Even so: No complaints and absolutely no doubt that the same keen eye for quality is applied to the menu still.
The menu is vast and eclectic, taking inspiration from all over the world for dishes. There are lots of tasty sounding things to choose from but, since it was a rainy Sunday afternoon we opted for stodge!
I ordered mac & cheese pancakes with pulled pork, Dan chose a hot dog with mac & cheese and we shared each along with some loaded fries.
In the old café a huge emphasis was placed on the quality and provenance of the ingredients and, I’m assuming the same is still true. Everything was fresh, tasty and beautifully presented. It was the perfect antidote to rainy Sunday afternoon traipsing round the shops.
Gastronome: Individual independent
I’ve always been a proud champion of independent business. Our high streets and shop shelves need fewer homogenised brands, chains of shops and restaurants and more independent, individual, passionate businesspeople. This is just the sort of refreshment Gastronome provides.
Their recent growth feels like a coming of age for what was always a gem of a café. The new location means that now Gastronome sits alongside some big high street names. However the new design and branding keeps the personality and fun of before; but now it is slick and standout. Not only is Gastronome sharing space with these brand-giants; it’s holding its own in style.