You don’t go to Main’s to see and be seen. It’s homely and comfortable rather than smart or trendy. You go to Main’s to eat good honest food, imaginatively conceived, caringly cooked and freshly served. The meals we have had there are the best we have had in Suffolk since we returned to the UK a year ago.
On the left side of the main drag in Yoxford coming from the A12, Main’s is located in what was a mature double fronted shop. The eponymously engraved windows hint at something not run-of-the- mill. The place is owned and run by Jason and Nancy Main (“An old Scottish name”). On the three dining evenings (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) Jason is back stage rattling the pans and Nancy looks after front-of-house aided by a friendly young lady.
Passing through the central entrance doors, the way into the kitchen is immediately in front, whilst to the right are shelves behind which is red glass, through which if you have a careful look you can see the chef at work. Happily this is not in the fashionable way of having a kitchen completely open to view, but providing the reassuring ability, if you desire it, to see Jason plying his trade; calm, collected and cooking. He moves smoothly, seemingly unhurried, from grill to sauce pan, from oven to fridge and bubbling pots. Each evening his menu varies, but that shown on Main ‘s website typifies his approach. You will note he is an imaginative and creative chef, but whose feet a firmly planted on the ground. No foam, vacuums, or molecular stuff here. Praise be.
As we examined the day’s Carte (there are distinctly French Auberge overtones here, in ambience but not in the menu descriptions, which are good, plain English), Nancy brought us crispy crusted, lightly chewy brown bread and butter. Her bread, fresh and fit to make a meal of. Better than an Amuse Bouche and splendid augury of things to come.
Jason offers things in fives – five starters, five Main’s mains and five puddings. There is a vegetarian choice, which is NOT mushroom risotto, as we found on three successive evenings a few months ago in other local eateries. Youngest son, a vegetarian, perusing on-line approved wholeheartedly. Anyway, we opened with a Brandade of Smoked Haddock with Roast Cherry Tomatoes, and Celeriac Soup with Toasted Seeds. Faultless. Brandade customarily is a creamed blend of poached salt cod and olive oil; I thought Jason’s take on the recipe just right for time and place. Mary, a soup aficionado declared the celeriac outstandingly good. Excellent stock base, perfect rooty flavour and a smooth as silk texture.
I stayed with the sea for my main course; wild sea bass and fillets of Dover sole lightly cooked and presented with “velvet butter” sauce (butter, cream, fish stock, lemon). Mary again picked a favourite; roast pleasant, knowing it would be a sharp knife job, because these days it is not popular to hang game until the maggots are chewing it, and “fresh” pheasant, roasted, tends to be tough. The plentiful breast and leg provided good eating, though, supported by a parsnip purée and game gravy. Jason didn’t disappoint with the vegetables: a good bowl of spring cabbage, carrots and oven browned potatoes – all fresh, hot and right.
In a place of lesser cooking, we would probably have called it a day by now, but the quality of what we had enjoyed so far encouraged us to proceed onwards and two of the five puddings. The Crême Brûlée with red berry compote delighted Mary, who beamed and mumbled “perfect”. I was intrigued by Bostock with Praline Ice-cream; Bostock being Nancy’s Brioche with orange, apricot and almond frangipan. Dear me, I have to use “superlative” again.
The food is simply presented, allowing it to speak for itself. Dribbles of Balsamic are not necessary. It’s not an artwork, it’s just food that looks good enough to eat. And enjoy. The service is to match. Friendly, efficient, no frills.
With coffee, sparkling water and two glasses of crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc our bill came to £69.30 . For the meal we had enjoyed this is decidedly good value for money.
Main’s Restaurant, High Street, Yoxford, Suffolk IP17 3EU Telephone: 01728 668882 Open for dinner from 7.00 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Three course meal for two with wine from £75.00. Parking on street. No wheelchair access. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
There is a lot more to Main’s than dinner three nights a week. They have an excellent website www.mainsrestaurant.co.uk from which the following notes are extracted: