With February nearly done and dusted, the social excitement of the festive season seems miles away now, as so much seems to have happened since 2015 was born. However, I still look back fondly at my work Christmas shindig, a gala event held at Kersey Mill in Ipswich; at their main function suite The Venue. Aptly named and fit for purpose, The Venue at Kersey Mill features a picturesque outdoor patio; welcoming guests with an attractive cream awning. Ascending the stairs will see guests enter a grotto of loveliness, decked out in Christmas jewellery.
Hosting a Christmas event, large tables spread with thick white linen tablecloths clustered around the mid-section of the large upstairs area. Our table was situated near one end of the room, ideally placed next to the polished wooden floor of the dance area, the DJ booth strung with bright white fairy lights, the open space awkwardly inviting when you have yet to down your first drink. Situated at the other end of the pale beamed space was a long bar, furnishing diners with a range of beverages. The tables were really nicely decorated, with huge glass urns and candles forming an imposing centrepiece, also carrying the traditional beacons of Christmas in the form of holly, evergreen tangles and plump red berries, sitting ripe and round. Although a classic composition of green, red and white, it still looked modern and fresh with a splash of style. A diagonally placed cracker and three course set menu adorned my plate, and as we all sat down, I couldn’t wait to stuck in to my meal.
You know a meal has begun when you are presented with a bread basket, so selecting a tasty looking crusty brown roll for my side plate; I was on the lookout for my starter – chicken liver pate, served with a delicious onion based chutney, a simple side salad and two small rounds of crispy bread. The presentation looked a bit ‘plonked on the plate’ so to speak, with the bread balanced on top like an afterthought, hiding the main components of the dish. Although a simple starter, the flavours were still lovely, the sweetly sticky chutney a great accompaniment to the smooth pate. It was lucky that the bread basket had done the rounds really, as I was given a delectable hunk of the pate, but with only two small ovals of bread, it would have been difficult to do serious damage to the starter without my roll. A really nice start though and a decent portion size.
For my main course, I had opted for the roast beef rib eye, served with mash and a red wine laced sauce. This was a wonderful dish, artfully brought to the table in a stack, my mash acting as a cover for the vegetables yet a tray for the beef. The meat was impossibly tender and cooked just how I like it – a soft and succulent medium. It cut like butter and melted in the mouth, so top points there. The mash was also really creamy and worked well with the other flavours on the plate. The vegetables were pretty standard boiled affairs, but completed the dish well. The portion size was nice, although I did also end up ploughing through someone’s leftover turkey dinner, partly out of curiosity, and partly because I could just eat more. You can tell the quality of the ingredients used though as it was a really lovely meal – nothing over fancy or overdone, but classic dishes, suitable for all styles of diners, executed well and dished up creatively. Very nice all round.
Dessert is always one I look out for as it can make or break a meal. I had chosen the chocolate roulade with chocolate ganache, which I was really looking forward to, however my only niggle with the dish was the addition of a mango coulee – I just wasn’t sure whether the mango and chocolate combo would work, and since I’m more of a summer berry girl than a tropical fruit one, I was worried whether I would enjoy this as much as I wanted to. Luckily, my fears were not necessary as dessert was divine. A little on the small side, but delicious, the roulade cake really soft and fluffy and working as a great team mate for the creamy ganache style filling, adding extra moisture and a chocolate hit. The mango coulee was pooled underneath the roulade, and if I’m honest, I really couldn’t taste it enough to affect the impact of the chocolate, so I still thoroughly enjoyed the dish – I could have eaten two! Again, presented simply yet nicely with a chocolate twirl and a plump strawberry, it was verging on the side of arty but just missing the polished flair.
On the whole, The Venue at Kersey Mill put on a good show. Hosting a Christmas event such as this with large groups of different tables is never easy, even with the help of a set menu, however all the food I ate was perfectly cooked and tasted delicious. I wouldn’t say it was the best I ever had of anything, but all together it was a very satisfying and tasty meal. I think I would have liked a bit more food on the plates to fill me up a bit better, however maybe the Prosecco I was swigging was contributing to my munchies. The venue and décor was gorgeous, and the staff were attentive and polite, swooping down to clear tables in a precise military fashion, in packs of black and white uniforms. After the meal, I set up residence on the dance floor, leading the way for classic set dances, fuelled by my yummy meal. A stylish and classy venue well worth a visit if you are thinking about hosting a large event in the Ipswich area.