Dining out with friends? How to make your evening in Suffolk one to remember
- Credit: Emma Cabielles
Discover what makes the ultimate dining experience.
“As well as good company, great food and drink, amazing service and a beautiful setting to enjoy it all in, are the essentials for a fantastic evening out,” says Swann, chef patron at The Great House Hotel and Restaurant in Lavenham. “Therefore, we strive to make every element of our Experience menu truly delightful.”
Below, Swann reveals more about the journey your tastebuds can embark upon and shares what you need for a perfect evening out with your nearest and dearest.
1. A charming and relaxing setting
Suffolk is a beautiful place to explore, offering sprawling countryside, coastal views and colourful history.
“The quaint essence of Lavenham village is one that visitors can’t get enough of,” Swann says. “You’ll love wandering through its winding lanes and taking in the medieval architecture.”
The Great House Hotel and Restaurant also has its own rich past, dating back to the 14th century. While dining in the restaurant or staying in one of the five King suites on offer, you can enjoy much of the building’s authentic features, including exposed beams, and an original fireplace.
“It’s the perfect venue for friends and family to catch up, and spend quality time together,” Swann adds. “Booking a stay in one of our rooms is the ideal way to extend your evening into the next day and take advantage of the impressive sights on our doorstep.”
Guests can enjoy sampling the Experience menu for dinner and a hearty breakfast the next morning.
2. A warm welcome from the moment you arrive
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“What makes a restaurant experience memorable are the people hosting you,” Swann explains. “Every member of our team is on hand to ensure you have an exceptional time, from talking you through every dish, to recommending the best wine, and explaining where each ingredient has come from.”
The Great House Hotel and Restaurant sources fresh, local produce to curate every recipe that appears on their Experience menu.
“We procure our fish from a Suffolk-based fish merchant, and our meat from a local quality butcher,” Swann says. “We love to support local businesses, and it’s a great way to reduce air miles and lower our carbon footprint.”
As part of their commitment to helping the planet, they have also joined ‘Sustainably Run’ — an organisation that partners with restaurants, planting trees to help offset harmful emissions.
“We ask diners to contribute an optional £1.23 at the end of their meal. This goes towards planting new trees, generating sustainable food and repairing ecosystems,” Swann explains. “Since August 2021, we’ve planted 1,380 trees, and that number is constantly rising.”
As well as the knowledgeable and friendly front of house staff, the kitchen boasts a team of creative and talented chefs. Head chef Swann was a finalist at the Suffolk Food & Drink Awards for Young Chef of the Year. His career began in Brittany, where much of the inspiration for the restaurant’s menus originates. Head patisserie chef Mathieu has also worked in several award-winning French establishments.
To ensure your evening is as pleasurable as possible, you will have your table all night. This way you can sit back, relax and savour every moment.
3. Delicious dishes and mouth-watering desserts
The Experience menu is a set five-course dinner, designed to take you on a journey of beautifully blended flavours and spices and encourage you to try things you may never normally order. The menu changes every season, so there is always something new to sample, and you can let the waiting staff know of any dietary requirements before your dinner begins.
“We’re able to adapt the dishes to suit your needs, meaning you won’t miss out on a thing,” Swann says.
You can enjoy tantalising amuse-bouches like Colchester rock oysters, scented with shallots and red wine puree, coated in Panko crumb and served with zesty chilli and lemon mayonnaise. Main courses celebrate stunning local ingredients like the Suffolk beef fillet that’s accompanied by Roscoff onion petals, roasted baby carrots, Bresaola, parsnip crisps and topped with a rich beef jus.
End the evening on a high with a sumptuous chocolate dessert comprising cocoa biscuit, Maldon salt crémeux, milk chocolate foam, nougat chunks, salted caramel sauce and dark chocolate ice cream.
“The beauty of a set menu is that there’s no need to pore over options. It’s thoughtfully laid out for you. Each course of our Experience menu adds a new level and depth of flavour for you to relish,” Swann explains.
You can also book a table for lunch to try their three-course set menu. It’s the perfect opportunity to peruse the restaurant’s extensive range of wines, cocktails and gins.
The Great House Hotel and Restaurant is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Lunch is available from 12 pm until 2.30pm and the Experience menu is on offer from 7pm until 9.30 pm.