50 top places to eat out in Suffolk
It's been another difficult task . . . so many good places and only room for a top 50.
It's been another difficult task . . . so many good places and only room for a top 50. As in previous years we have simply asked EADT Suffolk writers to tell us the restaurants, pubs and hotels they have visited in the past year and would recommend. They have taken into account food, service, value for money and surroundings. Those visits will have been unannounced making our picks as impartial as possible. In addition we have mentioned the selections of people in the food and drink industry. At the end of this list we also include places we would like to try or re-visit. This top 50 was compiled in October 2009…watch out for a new list this autumn in EADT Suffolk magazine.
The Golden Key, SnapeDrive through Snape on the way to the Maltings and you might easily miss this little gem. It’s in Priory Road and you can expect lovely pub food using local ingredients as well as a good pint. EADT Suffolk sampled a ‘Suffolk Food Producers’ lunch there recently which was superb . . . local lamb, honey, beef, vegetables, fruit, a veritable feast! Tel: 01728 688510.
The Fox, BulmerSlapbang on the Suffolk/Essex border this pub on the main Sudbury/Halstead road does the simple things well . . . a cosy interior that’s slightly more restaurant than pub (though there are some nice little snugs) plus a small but thoughtfully put together menu. What about a starter (or light main course) of spiced lamb in a croustade with cashews and Greek yoghurt? Too fancy? Then try the griddled rump steak sandwich with Dijon mayonnaise and pan-fried onions. Mains don’t get any more expensive than �13.50 with starters around �5. Tel: 01787 312277.
Scutchers, Long MelfordAn ever-present on our list this tastefully decorated restaurant is on the road out of Long Melford towards Cavendish. Owners Nick and Diane Barrett are hard working perfectionists and the quality of food and service here are second to none. An exquisite ‘luxury fish ragout’ or fillet steak will cost �24 but if you want to sample the cooking here go for the �18 for two courses option. Tel: 01787 310200.
Queen’s Head, BlyfordA new one for us, here is a 500 year old thatched pub (under new ownership) not far from Southwold and Halesworth that majors on very local meat, game and vegetables (most can be found grazing or growing a matter of yards from the pub!). Tel: 01502 478404.
Le Talbooth, DedhamBeautiful setting and an award-winning restaurant serving cuisine that is a skilful mix of the classic and exciting. Luxury dining, attention to detail is everything here. Tel: 01206 323150
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Milsoms, Kesgrave HallWe like both the Milsoms (there’s also one near Le Talbooth) for their effortless style and interesting food. This one in a fomer schoolhouse is situated a matter of yards from the A12 but hidden away amid trees and gently rolling lawns. It seems that not being able to book beforehand is still not a problem (for the owners) as it remains a very popular venue. We like the cleverly worded, almost skittish, menus (starters around �6-�7, mains �9-�14, and puds �6) and get ready to order your food on a notepad! Tel: 01473 333741.
Maison Bleu, Bury St EdmundsImpeccable French cuisine in a quiet corner of Bury St Edmunds just off the Angel Hill. It may look a small restaurant but it goes back some way and there’s usually a relaxing atmosphere as you savour the delicacies and fine wines on offer. The three courses for �16.95 lunch is a steal and a great introduction to this French temptress. You could almost be across the Channel in Annecy or Sarlat (or any other Gallic town as lovely as our own Bury!) Tel: 01284 760623.
Caf� Bencotto, FelixstoweThis is the sister establishment to the ever popular Alex on Felixstowe’s seafront. It serves Mediterranean style food – authentic hand-made pizzas and excellent pasta and risotto – plus an interesting selection of contemporary English meat, fish and seafood dishes, and a handful of seasonal daily specials. The wine list is well above average for this style of informal dining. There’s a buzzy atmosphere here and the red brick interior – it’s in the town’s lovingly restored former fire station – lends a warm ambience. Tel: 01394 276745.
Ravenwood Hall Hotel, RoughamIdeal destination for the autumn months, with a cosy, inviting atmosphere, a warm log fire and exceptional food. Choose to dine in the informal bar, spacious Garden Room overlooking the terrace, or the formal restaurant. This Tudor hall provides a relaxed experience where food and service is something quite special. The menu offers a wide selection of British dishes with a modern twist, using ingredients such as game from Rougham Estate and other locally sourced meats and fish, in addition to vegetarian options.Tel: 01359 270345.
Black Lion Hotel, Long MelfordWith arguably the finest view of the famous Long Melford Green and within the imposing gaze of the church, the Georgian Black Lion is steeped in history and serves the finest, award-winning dishes. The restaurant is welcoming with a touch of sophistication, mixed with homely comforts. A previous winner of the EADT Suffolk Food and Drink awards best restaurant. Tel: 01787 312356.
Old Cannon Brewery, Bury St EdmundsA genuinely independent free house in the backstreets of Bury and the only brew pub in Suffolk where you can actually see beer in the making on a regular basis. Beers are made on the premises using East Anglian grown and malted barley, choice hops and the special house yeast. The Brewery Kitchen serves fresh and seasonal produce purchased from known local producers – the style is British traditional/regional with a twist. Proper pub prices too, not over expensive. The Cannon now has rooms so you can eat, drink and stay. Tel: 01284 768769.
Mariners, IpswichFormerly Il Punto, this floating restaurant on Neptune Quay has bags of style. Beautifully laid out tables (admire all that gleaming brasswork and woodwork too) with French cuisine to match. Owner Regis Crepy never scrimps on quality so go on, treat yourself! Tel: 01473 289748.
Crown Hotel, BildestonAwards and rave notices keep coming in for this lovely inn in mid Suffolk. Giles Coren in the Times calls it: “The best progressive kitchen in Suffolk.” Eat in the restaurant or around the cosy bar area with big open fire (perfect for the colder months ahead). Wonderful meat and game dishes but they can do the simple things well too.We can personally vouch for the best salmon and scrambled egg breakfast we’ve ever tasted. Tel: 01449 740510.
Blyth Hotel, SouthwoldFriendly and relaxed hotel that neatly blends the old and the new in this favourite seaside town. Good fish dishes but muchmore too. Tel: 01502 722632.
Satis House, YoxfordStylish small hotel near to Suffolk Heritage Coast that has a two AA rosette award-winning restaurant specialising in local produce, particularly meat, poultry, game, seafood and vegetables. All the food, wherever possible, is both locally sourced and seasonal. “We try to ensure that whatever meat we serve, we know exactly how it has been reared, slaughtered and hung, if necessary, before it gets to your table,” say the owners. Tel: 01728 668418.
The Grid, Bury St EdmundsThat rarity . . . an independent restaurant (“traditionally new” is how they describe the food here) set amid a cluster of chains in Bury’s Angel Hill and Abbeygate Street area. Has a loyal following and really looks after its customers. Tel: 01284 706004.
White Horse, SibtonSuffered the setback of a fire earlier this year but owner Neil Mason is a dynamo, always improving this attractive, beam-filled village pub not far from the coast. Won our ‘best eating pub’ in the EADT Suffolk Food and Drink awards last year, the food here is hearty and delicous. You should get a warm welcome too. Tel: 01728 660337.
Queen’s Head, BramfieldRenowned for its high quality, home-made meals produced from quality local organic produce. Rare breed meats often on the menu.With Adnams and Aspalls available a fine example of a village pub. Tel: 01986 784214.
The Westleton CrownA 17th century coaching inn that mixes the traditional with nice dashes of sophistication. Wooden tables and open fires make the bar welcoming as the weather starts to get colder. Lots to choose from on the menu but we really enjoyed the trio of local Blythburgh pork (roast fillet, braised cheek and tempura belly with fondant potato, celeriac pur�e and steamed bok-choi). An establishment that even allows well-behaved dogs! Tel: 01728 648777.
The Galley, IpswichThis should be two choices in one as we also really like the Galley at Woodbridge (which we picked last year). Owner and always welcoming host Ugur Vata knows his stuff in the kitchen and his Turkish-inspired dishes are scrumptious. At Ipswich there’s a delightful walled garden area for al fresco dining but it’s cosy inside too. Tel: 01473 281131.
The Swan Hotel, LavenhamThe autumn and winter is just the time to see the historic Swan at its ‘mighty beams and open fires’ best. But what to choose from an expansive menu? Maybe pan-fried halibut with a cured salmon and Braeburn apple salsa, cauliflower pur�e, stem ginger foam? Or possibly Suffolk lamb plate . . . that’s saut�ed cutlet topped with a sweetbread souffl� and a tomato and tarragon compote, poached neck of lamb with summer greens and turned Jersey Royals, from the a la carte.Good vegetarian choices here too. Tel: 01787 247477.
The West Wing at IckworthSet in fabulous Ickworth House at Horringer, here is a venue always worth visiting before or after a tour of the house and gardens. Snacks and main meals are a cut above here and the restaurant is bright, spacious and inviting. A real favourite of ours. Tel: 01284 735957.
Best Western Ufford Park Hotel Golf & Spa, MeltonGolf club food has come a long way over recent years and the fine dining at Ufford is very good (plus you get lovely views of the course). Hungry players can still get filling snacks too. Tel: 01394 383555.
The Fox, Bury St EdmundsFull marks to the owners who have transformed this pub over recent years. It looks attractive both inside and out and has a lovely, relaxing feel about it. Once it was primarily a drinkers’ local, now it boasts good standard pub food (free range East Anglian meats, organic milk and eggs) plus fine ales and all just yards from the Abbey Gardens and the Angel Hill. Tel: 01284 705562.Six Bells, HorringerA simple but effective formula here . . . it’s a revamped village pub serving good food and ales. The character of this roadside pub hasn’t changed too much, just smartened up a little. Hopefully the locals still like it and new customers should be coming through the doors. Tel: 01284 735551.
King’s Head, WoodbridgeTown centre pub full of low beams and bags of character. Just the place to pull up a chair or stool and sup a pint. Head chef Edward Halls has cooked for the head of the British Army so what you get is no-nonsense, very tasty pub food using seasonal ingredients that is a cut above. Want some examples? Pan fried black pudding, smoked bacon and apple on bubble and squeak or baked vegetable wellington, cauliflower cheese and creamed spinach. We certainly salute this King. Tel: 01394 387750.
The Crown Hotel, SouthwoldCombining the attractive elements of a small hotel, wine bar, pub and restaurant, the Crown is always buzzing with a lively informality. We think the phrase that best describes it is “effortless class”. The food is famously good and the wine list wonderful. Inevitably awards have followed: ‘Wine Pub of the Year’ the Morning Advertiser, ‘Central & East Anglia’s Best Hotel of the Year’ Les Routiers and ‘Suffolk Dining Pub of the Year 2009’ the Good Pub Guide. Tel: 01502 722186.
Aqua Eight, IpswichLook for this superb restuarant in Lion Street, at the heart of Ipswich . . . if you like pan-Asian cuisine you will thank us. There’s nothing quite like it in Suffolk.Prepare to salivate at black cod with miso or fried soft-shelled crab with red chilli and curry leaf. Good wine choice too, while the snazzy modern surroundings will add to the enjoyment of your meal. We are giving you the telephone number but check out their swish website. Tel: 01473 218989.
The Brudenell, AldeburghSimple and unpretentious cooking is the order of the day here at a hotel a few steps from the shoreline. Just the place to visit after a bracing walk by the sea. Chef Justin Kett has returned from Somerset to his Suffolk roots and is excelling in the kitchens. You would expect excellent fresh fish and seafood dishes but there’s also delicious game during these winter months. Tel: 01728 452071.
Tuddenham Mill, Nr NewmarketFirstly, the venue takes some beating . . . an old mill, a millpond featuring kingfishers and gently cruising swans with open countryside beyond, (plus the bedrooms here are wonderfully romantic). But if that isn’t relaxing and welcoming enough there is the food. Meals are a mix of the simple and the sophisticated. Grilled fillet of Gilthead bream with clams and Napoli sauce, char-grilled pine nut and garlic polenta is an example. The perfect escape.Tel: 01638 713552.
Queen’s Head, HawkedonThe boar’s head in one of the dining rooms lets you know this is a characterful, lovely, old fashioned village pub. Smallish menu (devoid of chips) suggests the chef is cooking with good local ingredients. Not too expensive. A real find in west Suffolk. Tel: 01284 789218.
Hotel Victoria, LowestoftFlying the flag for good food in Lowestoft this hotel – now with a bright new interior and more relaxed dining – stands proud on Kirkley Cliff. We were impressed with the service when we visited earlier this year. Tel: 01502 574433.
The Leaping Hare, Wyken HallLast year The Leaping Hare was awarded a Michelin ‘Bib Gourmand’ and has retained the prestigious award in 2009. It’s also an EADT Suffolk Food and Drink awards winner in 2007.Food in the lovely setting of a high ceilinged, and heavily beamed, farm building is mainly from local farmers. Lamb from Stowlangtoft, beef from Bardwell and venison, pheasant and pigeon from the Wyken estate. Fruit, herbs and vegetables often come from the nearby kitchen garden. Tel: 01359 250287.
Crown and Castle, OrfordFabulous little village Orford and at the Crown and Castle, headquarters of the former Hotel Inspector herself, Ruth Watson, the accent is on serious relaxation. The Trinity restaurant has an easy going but lively ambience and it neither looks nor feels like a typical hotel restaurant. With two AA rosettes, a Michelin bib gourmand, and regular good notices in the broadsheets it’s worth trying. On the menu in the winter, you may find Suffolk pheasant with lentils and wilted greens; slow-roast Suffolk pork belly with cabbage and bacon; or hot bitter chocolate mousse. Tel: 01394 450205.
The Donkey, HadleighEven when it was the White Horse locals called this pub the Donkey now it is back as a new,upmarket place to eat on the outskirts of Hadleigh. The French chef Didier Piot (ex Lavenham Swan) has come up with a good British style menu to meet all tastes, prices are reasonable and there’s service with a smile. Worth seeking out. Tel: 01473 810200.
Bistro on the Quay, IpswichEnterprising and friendly owners Anthony and Kathy Brooks have made this one of the best places to eat in Ipswich. You get good views of the quayside while you dine and there are some enticing fixed menu offers to tempt people through the door. Lots of mouthwatering fish dishes on the menu and much more besides. Tel: 01473 286677.
The Crown, Stoke by NaylandAnyone seeking to turn an everyday local into a thriving pub/restaurant should check out the Crown. The Angel, just yards up the road, used to be the place to eat in this enchanting Constable Country village. Now the old world character of the Crown combined with modern, brasserie-style dining packs them in for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The mix of sofas and banquettes, two-sided bar, flagstone floors, open view kitchen and wine racks works well but the food matches the clever interior design. Tel: 01206 262001.
Ivy House, StradbrokeThe Suffolk local frequented by the stars . . . well, musician Rick Wakeman and actress Amanda Donohue, at any rate! Sue Stenseth is a wizard in the kitchen and her home cooking always keeps the punters happy. There are Thai, Malaysian and Indonesian dishes on the sensibly priced menu while autumn favourites like steak and kidney pie should be available any time now! The pub has undergone a makeover in the past year or so and looks a picture. Tel: 01379 384634.
The Spice Bar, WoodbridgeSavour fine Asian fusion cooking at this upstairs restaurant on Woodbridge’s bustling Thoroughfare. Good vegetarian dishes. Attracts business diners and leisure visitors alike. Tel : 01394 382557.
The Pheasant, GestingthorpeWe sneak a mile or two over the border into Essex for this one but we like the Pheasant because it charges fair prices for its appetising food (several mains are under �10) there’s a smokery right next door helping supply some good fish dishes and the owner also keeps bees that provide honey for some of the sauces. All this and it has its own beer, specially brewed by Mauldons of Sudbury. Tel: 01787 461196.
Black Swan, HomersfieldInteresting menu to say the least. Our reviewer said the menu would “not disgrace a safari, even if it might be a geographically confused one.” They can rustle up crocodile, impala, kangaroo and ostrich here but there are traditional dishes too and interesting guest beers. The large portions would match the appetites of big game hunters. File under quirky. Tel: 01986 788204.
The Swan, Monks EleighA food-related website has been arguing over whether this really is a pub or a restaurant but you can get a good pint and first class food here so perhaps the answer is that it’s a mix of both. Nigel Ramsbottom is certainly a fine cook and it shows. Tel:08721 077077.
Great House, LavenhamOccupying an unbeatable setting at the top of Lavenham’s market square this much lauded French restaurant never drops its impeccable standards. In fact, it was Which? Food Guide’s East of England Restaurant of the Year 2009. A three course dinner costs �28.95 while lunches can be two courses for �16.95 or three for �18.95. If you have not been before we urge you to give it a try. Tel: 01787 247431.
Harbour Inn, SouthwoldBack in July our reviewer recorded that the Harbour Inn offers very, very good seafood but it’s quite expensive by pub standards. But with views over the harbour, excellent Adnams ales, and the knowledge you are at the hub of one of England’s finest seaside towns those prices shouldn’t matter too much. Tel: 01502 722381.
Angel, Bury St EdmundsGeorgian elegance meets contemporary design here but sorry, we are still not completely won over by the eclectic interior of ‘The Eaterie’. Then again who cares when the cooking is superb. Eighty percent of the food is locally sourced and aside from bottled wines there are over 30 wines by the glass. Look out over the Angel Hill and savour every mouthful of executive chef Simon Barker’s creations. Tel: 01284 714000.Hintlesham Hall, HintleshamA grand setting, with magnificent dining rooms and surrounding gardens, this remains one of the best eating out destinations in Suffolk. Head Chef, Alan Ford, demands the best quality ingredients to build a well-balanced carte which appeals to gourmet and health-conscious alike. Many of the dishes encompass fresh herbs from the hall’s garden and the award-winning wine list covers the globe. Tel:01473 652334.
Arlingtons, IpswichThere is much to admire about this new venue. Firstly it’s an old museum and ballroom converted into a brasserie so it’s a fascinating building. Secondly the food is sensibly priced with steak, mushroom and Guinness pie, calves liver and bacon, homemade cassoulet and beef bourguignon all under or just above the �10 mark.Tempting starters and puddings complete a menu that should satisfy most tastes. There’s also a very good two courses for �10 deal on at present. The owners used to run the well respected Mortimers fish restaurants. Tel: 01473 230293
Seckford Hall, nr WoodbridgeNow a mix of the formal and informal. An intimate setting for sumptuous dining awaits in the oak panelled dining room. Each table beautifully presented with crisp cotton linen and sparkling glasses. Specialising in lobster dishes or the famed local Suffolk Duckling, the chef pays particular attention to fresh ingredients available from local farms and fishing waters. For something more relaxed there is the Tudor bar. Tel: 01394 385678.
Riverside Restaurant, WoodbridgeAs the nights draw in what better than seeing a film here accompanied by a three course meal for just �30? Alternatively there is tapas and a film for �18 per person. Still one of our favourites. Tel: 01394 383174.
Star, Lidgate It’s sometimes a case of spot the jockeys and trainers at this lovely pub not far from Newmarket. Appetising Spanish and Mediterranean dishes are dotted about the menu (the owner is Spanish) but there are traditional British dishes too. Visit on a crisp autumn lunchtime or evening and get a table by the fire. Tel 01638 500275.