By Karen Maurice
My teenage daughter was lucky enough to accompany me on a recent visit to Glasswells in Ipswich. Normally such a trip would promote groans and protestations, but not today; today we were visiting the Glasswells restaurant for lunch. Food is always a good way of finding a bit of respite when it comes to shopping trips and the restaurant here at Ipswich has plenty of comfy seating and is lovely and bright – huge floor to ceiling windows flood it with light but the very effective air conditioning means you won’t get all steamed up over your roast. There is a really good range of light and main meals on the menu, as well as specials such as Pea and Mint Soup; Ham, Tomato, Pepper and Courgette Quiche; or Banana and Walnut pudding. What caught our eye however were the huge scones and cakes that graced the counter, all looking rather too tempting to say no to. Why fight an unwinnable battle of will-power versus cake?
We decided to go for the Afternoon Tea Special – a selection of sandwiches, cakes and a scone with jam and cream plus tea or coffee for just £9.95. Now, my daughter is a coeliac, which means she must follow a gluten free diet. I always hold my breath whenever asking in a restaurant or café what the gluten free options are because we have been so disappointed on so many occasions. I steeled myself for the waitress’ response but she happily informed me that they had a choice of gluten free bread for the sandwiches, a choice of cakes AND a choice of cheese or plain scone. Well, you have never seen two customers with such delighted looks on their faces!
This look of delight continued when my daughter spotted the waitress bringing our food over to our table (there is table service here unlike the ‘buffet’ style that you get in other shops). The food was beautifully presented on a two-tier cake stand – one for me and one for my daughter. It was so pretty and lovely that we could both enjoy such a treat without my daughter feeling that she was missing out.
The gluten free afternoon tea had smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches (there is a great range of fillings to choose from), 4 pieces of chocolate and nut brownie, and a HUGE scone with very generous portions of fresh cream and jam. My afternoon tea included a prawn and marie-rose sandwich, a selection of small pieces of cake (a lemon drizzle, chocolate fridge cake, fruity flapjack and coffee and walnut cake) as well as a fruit scone with jam and cream of course.
My daughter went straight for the brownie first (see note above about the unwinnable battle of willpower v cake!) which she said was amazing. After a gentle reminder about afternoon tea etiquette (!) we enjoyed our sandwiches – very generously filled, crusts cut off of course and with a salad garnish to ease some of those carb guilts you might be feeling. The cakes were all delicious, I love lemon drizzle cake and this one did not disappoint but the star cake for me was the fruity flapjack. This took me straight back to my childhood and the flapjacks that my mum that my mum used to make – syrupy and chewy and oh-so-good. Of course we must not forget the scones, which to me are the very best bit of an afternoon tea. The gluten free scone was huge – the tallest I have ever seen which is no mean feat in gluten free baking, and apparently the best my daughter has ever had. Mine was also delicious, slathered in jam and cream -or cream and jam depending on which school you follow. Utterly divine.
The staff were all incredibly friendly and helpful, and the was food delicious and plentiful – so much so that we had to take a doggy bag home which I (reluctantly) shared with my husband and son. Given their comments on how delicious the leftovers were I think they might be joining us on our next visit to Glasswells.www.glasswells.co.uk/restaurant