Dishes available at Gastrono-meGastrono-me

A brisk walk down a slightly chilly Bridge Street took us to Gastrono-me, the second of two all-day restaurants, started by Spanish-born Welsh Cypriot Gem and English-born Mike, the first of which is based in Bury St. Edmund’s. Upon entry, you’re welcomed by both warm-natured staff and a clean, chic aesthetic: it’s both vibrant and inviting.

“The extensive drinks list features a range of familiar favourites, as well as two unique cocktail ranges”

Walking further in, the bar too has a minimalist vibe, adorned with vintage colour-coded books and houseplants dotted along the shelves. We were offered drinks by very attentive staff – that is, once we had finished poring over the options in front of us – and we weren’t short of them. The extensive drinks list features a range of familiar favourites, as well as two unique cocktail ranges, titled ‘Me-Mosas’ and ‘A Whole Lot Naughtier’. Selecting two from the latter categories, we settled on the ‘Beemosa’ (honeycomb vodka, limonata, and and prosecco, living up to its playful name) and the French 75 (​​gin, squeezed lemon, prosecco, and a glacé cherry garnish)– which, in both cases, balanced a bubbly sweetness with a undercutting, citrus sourness.

The LychiniGastrono-me

We also went for a couple from the former category too: the ‘Lychini’ (vodka, pureed lychee, lime, and prosecco) was similar, but more intense in its flavour, presented beautifully in a martini glass and garnished with a dried orange slice. The ‘White Chocolate Espresso Martini’ on the other hand, a delightful twist on the famous base drink, made for an apt accompaniment for dessert – or could even function as dessert itself, given the similarity to tiramisu.

We won’t ramble for too much longer on the drinks, but the final thing of note about their cocktails is that their whimsical, if not theatrical, nature appears to be a reflection of Gem and Mike’s time in drama school. Cocktails that caught our attention, but didn’t end up choosing included the Bloody Hell Mary (a spicy tomato and vodka mix, with a chorizo, meatball, celery and olive garnish), the Shoeless Joe (amaretto, cherry syrup, nitro cold brew coffee and coca cola), and the Lady Marmalade (gin, marmalade, and earl grey over ice).

Moving on, the starters are perfect for sharing, all with the energy of an American action film. We chose a scrumptious pair of deep-fried classics, the ‘Kickin’ Fried Prawns’ (cajun spiced king prawns with the in-house ‘comeback’ sauce) and the self-evident ‘game changing’ Halloumi fries (served with mayo and sweet chilli sauce). They provided us with a great start – the halloumi fries were certainly a game changer. The prawns, whilst not exactly ‘kickin’ in their somewhat lacklustre spice level, still proved a great appetiser that complemented the halloumi in their rich flavour.

“Fusion dishes are central to the restaurant’s direction”

We were a bit apprehensive about whether they’d be able to deliver on such a diverse menu, but we were proven wrong and thankful for it. The menu’s scope was impressive, incorporating cuisine from across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. One dish we chose was born from this latter category, named the ‘Tot Dog’. It made full-use of their inclusion of tater tots (delicious hash-brown style potato bites) to make the pun pay-off. Accompanied with a blend of American and German toppings, such as sauerkraut, American cheese, smoky paprika crema and sriracha, this eclectic mix of flavours tied together perfectly. The sausage itself contributed to this mix of flavours, and easily substituted for a plant-based sausage, ‘Tot Dog’ would make a great option for vegans and vegetarians. Fusion dishes are central to the restaurant’s direction; interesting takes that caught our eye included the ‘Kimchi Quesadilla’ and the ‘Bombay Burger’, the latter opted for by one of us after much deliberation.

The Tot-DogGastrono-me

Across South Asia, it’s customary to eat your food with your hands – and the Bombay Burger (a lamb patty basted in fenugreek curry sauce, onion bhaji, tamarind ketchup, raita, mango chutney and spinach wrapped in naan) invited just that. A waitress pointed out that the banana leaf which the burger was served on top of could be used to wrap up the burger to make it easier to eat. She was, of course, absolutely correct. The savoury lamb contrasted really well with the sweetness of the onion in the bhaji. However, like the prawns, the lamb lacked the spice I would have expected from a food with flavours inspired by the Indian subcontinent. While the tartness of the tamarind ketchup was enjoyable, it did overpower the raita, leaving it slightly redundant. However, neither of these things take away from what was still a really great main course – it’s one I’d certainly have again.

Spoilt for sides, we tried the ‘Roman fries’ (seasoned with truffle oil, parsley, and parmesan) and an intriguing spin of ‘House fries’ (seasoned with a lightly dusting of Bloody Mary salt). Whilst making for a gorgeous display, neither had a particularly impactful flavour – the usual strong truffle flavour was a little absent – nor was the ‘Bloody Mary’ dusting quite as alarming as the infamously contentious cocktail. However, both had a crispiness we appreciated, and we couldn’t have asked for better accompaniments to our burger and hot dog. And perhaps the flavoursome mains we selected outshone the fries a little bit, not quite giving them justice.

The White Chocolate Espresso Martini (left)Gastrono-me

Absolutely stuffed by this point, the only dessert that really called to one of us was the vivid pink raspberry sorbet, which ended up being the perfect way to top off this meal. Whilst not particularly original, it was a welcome treat, and when accompanied by the French 75, provided the missing sweet element to this experience. On a different occasion, I might have opted for the ‘Boozy Knickerbocker Glory’, which sounded glorious, but I couldn’t quite stomach it after the Tot Dog. As for the vegan lemon trifle, it’s a great take on the summertime classic if you do happen to be vegan – but perhaps not so much if you prefer the original thing.

All in all, this was a spectacular evening – and though perhaps it falls slightly short of a student-friendly budget, would make for a great celebratory dinner. Equally, with a cup of coffee, this is also the perfect study spot – we reckon we’ll be back.

Varsity would like to thank Gastrono-me for a great evening.