YOU can’t miss Jossals, with its two red, blue, green and yellow Lincolnshire county flags blowing in the damp May air, just across Queen Street from the Whoops A Daisies children’s clothing shop.
Some people know the little market town of Market Rasen for horse racing; we know it for steak and ale pies, properly topped and bottomed with firm, short pastry, haddock in a crisp beer batter and dreamy, creamy mashed potato with today’s special, homemade Cornish pasty, or three Lincolnshire sausages in an onion gravy.
Jossals has been feeding the good people of Market Rasen for 30 years, most of them from the present site, the town’s former post office. It has been feeding us for six as we make our once a year trip to holiday in Lincolnshire.
Jossals is not flash or modern but resolutely retro in a Best of British kind of way. Here are proper pies, home baked ham, fish and chips, sausage and mash (with Yorkshire puddings), a very Anglo chicken curry like my father used to make at the Tower transport cafe, Biggleswade (famed the length of the A1) and a mirrorful of puddings.
Yes, you read that right. A whole nursery of old school puds is listed in white on the cafe mirrors. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin – and if this litany doesn’t take you back to childhood, nothing will.
Chocolate, syrup or ginger sponge, rhubarb and ginger crumble, sherry trifle, apple and pear pie, lemon and meringue pie and Cake of the Day, chocolate.
Every time I visit reinforces my belief that despite Britain’s cafes and restaurants’ seemingly relentless downward spiral with menus full of pizzas and burgers you can still find, if you look hard enough, classic British cooking.
For Sheffield readers old enough to remember this place recalls Tuckwoods – the waitresses are in black pinnies – with just a touch of Butler’s Dining Rooms.
On our lunchtime visit the clientele was elderly. “Fifty shades of grey. I bet there’s no one here without a pension,” murmured my wife.
Well, they know their food. It is simply done so well. My sausages, from a local butchet, are saged up to the hilt with peppery undertones, the mash is so good it would make a meal on its own, the puddings are decent and made in the kitchen, the onion gravy is silky with flour and if the peas are frozen I reckon a spoonful of sugar had made them sweeter than most.
I go for the rice pudding, really creamy with more than a hint of of vanilla and a dollop of strawberry jam in the middle.
In 2017 the owners, a quartet comprising Sally Graham, Jo Parson and Nick (the head chef) and Maxine Guymer, put the càfe on the market. But they weren’t rushing to sell: they want a buyer who will continue the Jossals tradition. Let’s hope they do but not just yet!
Jossals is at 7 Queen Street, Market Rasen.
UPDATE: Despite the pandemic Jossals has survived doing takeaways. Sunday lunches have been particularly good with 100 orders, more than could be catered for sitting down.
Recently food has been served in the seating area by the car park, some of it under canvas. We had a wonderful steak and ale pie and homemade scampi. Life should return almost to normal after May 17.