Even the Train Station is Named Elsewhere

It has long been a desire to visit the Dog and Duck at Campsea Ashe for a meal. We have been calling the pub the Dog and Duck but ‘The Duck’ is what it is called on its website. ‘What Pub’ records that it changed its name to The Duck in 2016, after a refit. Originally part of the Station buildings, it was called the Talbot until 2002 although by the look of the place it surely was built around the time the trains started to come through in about 1859. Licence records, according to the said ‘What Pub’, show that the licence was granted to the hostelry in 1863, so it all ties this in to be one of the station inns which opened to give the weary traveller respite from the long haul up from major termini. The station and pub sat on the branch which went north, or to Framlingham. The Station was named Wickham Market because of the ‘importance’ of Wickham Market. I put importance in a quotes because it is difficult to imagine that now. Wickham Market, could it ever have been seen as important. According to the East Anglian Daily Times complaints about the misnaming of the Station started in 1860 just after it opened. Personally I agree it is misnamed.

So, although the station will not be renamed and will forever be a confusion I am always afraid when pubs take on a new persona name wise it often heralds the change of status from a pub with food to a ‘fine dining’ establishment, or perhaps just a dining restaurant. This change tends to push the locals out and bring the fine (perhaps) diners in. Take the Unruly Pig. This was once the Cherry Tree and the second hole at Woodbridge Golf Course is named after the original pub names which was the meeting place of the founders of the Golf Club. It lacks the warming atmosphere of a good old country pub. Perhaps this is the same with the Duck, but I cannot be sure because I would need to visit it in the evening to see if the locals get into drink. The only thing I know is from a lady that we know who said that the pub was very good but ‘there were locals in there’!

Our lunch started badly. We booked using the online form and received a positive response. When we arrived the host, who did remind of someone but I cannot think who, advised that they did not have our booking. However, it was not an issue because there was only one other group eating. A couple of more groups arrived while we were eating, but if it had been a busy an evening then we would have been out of the door and getting fish and chips from Melton, provided it was not a Monday. Whenever we visit a pub/restaurant I always check Tripadvisor, which has the pub misnamed as ‘The Dog and Duck’. I do prefer that name. The only thing about the comments on Tripadvisor is the lack of reviews and any recent ones at that. The last one was in April and the few that are there show the usual spread of good and bad.

Owing to the lack of diners we were allowed to choose our table which was the usual selection of unmatched anachronistic chairs and table. I would suggest that they one graced the dining room of a 40s/50s dining room. The surface of the table was sanded so that any spillage would stain the unprotected wood. Redone pubs seem to be adopting this look. Do I like it, well not so sure. We did stain our table!

The service was first class and as soon as we were seated Mein Host offered us a couple of pre-prandials. They have a very large selection of gins, all known off by heart by the Manager, which was impressive, and I following my request for coke I was offered either a half or a pint, rather than the usual just being served a small glass which I can finish in minutes. It was good to see that the drinks were prepared by one member of staff and the served by another who brought our drinks within a couple of minutes of ordering. It really grates on me when there is no ‘process’ in a pub and the person who takes your order also has to pour the drinks and serve them. Quite inefficient.

Enough time was given for us to peruse the menus with our aperitives and then the waiteress was back to take an order. One negative was that the specials board was not pointed out. I did not think of it at the time, but I do like a view which could affect my choice. Actually we were seated by an old fireplace and the specials board was the other side of the chimney breast so not in full sight, and I only saw it after I had made my choices. The drinks server took our orders and funnily did not have the usual pad, or more likely now a tablet now, and chose to commit our orders to memory. Fortunately she was young and the worry that something not ordered would appear as a first course were completely unfounded.

I chose sardines on toast as a starter and it bore no resemblance to the Sunday night favourite from the ’60s. They were fresh sardines, which had never seen the inside of a John West tin, were served on sourdough toast with the butter was replaced with a very tasty tomato sauce. The ‘Trouble’ selected prawns, whole in their shells with spiced butter sauce. Although she had to peel the prawns she was given the obligatory finger bowl which obligatory in one local pub we have visited. Is it a English thing perhaps and is very messy if you don’t have one! There were plenty of napkins in the utensil bucket on the table to ensure that the dipped fingers could be dried.

For our main course, you note that I have avoided the use of the word ‘mains’ which along with the word ‘sides’ I find to be American to be acceptable here, we both chose the spatchcock. Actually I would have called it a poussin, but I am not going to split hairs. The chicken had a really tasty sauce but perhaps a little too tasty for me. I have definitely never tested positive for Covid but I have had a taste change and I am finding that strong flavours become very strong to me but the poussin was well within acceptability for me. We finished the meal with a coffee and they had decaffeinated which is a must for us these days.

On the whole it was a very pleasant meal, tasty, with enough dishes to make the choice difficult. So our long held desire to visit The Duck has been satisfied as was our taste buds. So well done to them. On the whole we liked ‘The Duck’, and yes we would go again, but next time I will remember to seek out the Specials Board to add to my choices which I did find difficult to make.