UPDATE: At the time of writing, the Long Melford Swan and Duck Deli were operated by Stuart Inns. They are both under new ownership.
A trip to Suffolk is always a delight. It’s close to Cambridge and there is so much to see and do… not to mention eat and drink! Paulo and I visited the charming town of Long Melford to enjoy the food, drink and accommodation at the very lovely Long Melford Swan, a boutique restaurant with rooms. The adjoining Duck Deli was a bonus – a real foodie haven where we had lunch and stocked up on goodies.
The Long Melford Swan and Duck Deli are part of the establishments run by family business Stuart Inns. I wrote about the Old Crown – their latest venture and first in Cambridgeshire – here. I’ve also been to their excellent Lavenham Greyhound restaurant, so I knew a visit to the Long Melford Swan would be a wonderful experience – and I was right!
The Long Melford Swan is an impressive property with so much to offer – luxury boutique bedrooms, a cosy bar, beautiful garden area, the Duck Deli and a 2 AA rosette restaurant in the gorgeous Garden Room. There is also a chef’s table seating 6-8 people in a private room next to the kitchen where guests can indulge in a six-course tasting menu, which is also available in the restaurant.
Lavenham Blue Vintage Tea Rooms caught my eye as soon as we drove up the road to Lavenham’s market square on a late Friday afternoon. This charming 15th century timber-framed cottage, with its striking windows, white walls and blue signs, sits on the corner overlooking the square. The welcoming front door is on the side of the house and there’s even a garden. We felt as though we had stumbled upon a hidden gem.
Paulo and I, unsure of the closing time, couldn’t resist popping into the tea room to have a look. It turns out we arrived 15 minutes before closing but we were warmly greeted by owner Amanda Mortimer and not made to feel rushed in the least. Although we didn’t have to, we kept our order simple so we wouldn’t stay too long. We settled in comfortably at a table by the window and admired the surroundings.
The gramophone, tea pot collection, lace tablecloths, bunting, candy jars and old family photos added to the ambience. Everything about this delightful tea room softly stated vintage, from the name Lavenham Blue reminiscent of the 18th century nursery rhyme Lavender Blue (Dilly Dilly) to the white and blue colours bringing to mind blue patterns on antique white china.
It’s no wonder we felt so at home. We found out that Amanda converted the ground floor of her lovely cottage into this tea room. Every single customer is like a welcomed guest into her house.
Giggling Squid is a chain of Thai restaurants located in affluent market towns. There are 20 restaurants and counting but it certainly doesn’t feel like a soulless corporate entity. Perhaps it’s because the story of their beginnings is a humble and endearing one. Andy and Pranee Laurillard came up with the concept of Thai Tapas Sets and opened their first restaurant in Brighton back in 2002. And if you’re wondering where the quirky name came from, it’s the nickname of one of their children.
It was only a matter of time before Giggling Squid came to the historic town of Bury St Edmunds and it’s a perfect fit. It has become massively popular so be sure to book.
The décor is simply stunning. Muted colours, gorgeous lighting and layered textures create a relaxing and welcoming ambience, complemented by friendly and helpful service.
Paulo and I popped in for dinner, so we missed their famous lunch time tapas (this will soon be corrected with a return visit). The evening menu was filled with tantalising dishes, some of them quite original, others more traditional but all reflecting their ethos of simple, rustic, fresh Thai food.
Pies are a big deal in the UK so it’s no wonder we hold British Pie Week every March to celebrate our love of the humble pie. Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa in Newmarket got in on the celebrations and invited me and Paulo to try out their British Pie Weekend menu at Squires Restaurant.
This 2 AA Rosette restaurant, with Executive Head Chef Sean Melville at the helm, provides a modern dining experience in beautiful surroundings. The restaurant prides itself on sourcing their produce locally whenever possible, and their suppliers are all within a 50-mile radius.
We were greeted warmly by restaurant manager Manfred Seibert and shown to a cosy table in the corner with comfy armchairs. The excellent service continued throughout the meal.
We ordered drinks while we perused the three-course pie menu: Adnams Ghost Ship pale ale for Paulo and a glass of Prosecco for me.
Casa Del Mar is a delightful Mediterranean restaurant located in the centre of Bury St Edmunds. Once known as Café Del Mar, the name change reflects the fact that it’s more than just a café, and rightly so. The menu includes an impressive selection of dishes, including Spanish, Greek, Italian and Moroccan. Owned by the vivacious and talented Maria Broadbent, Casa Del Mar’s ambience is cosy and inviting with friendly and attentive service throughout.
We went to Bury St Edmunds to see a concert at The Apex and were looking for a place to eat nearby that could accommodate the four of us for an early dinner, as the show started at 7:30pm on the dot. The thought of having to resort to a boring chain restaurant wasn’t too appealing so a quick tweet revealed Casa Del Mar as a recommendation. Our friends Peter and Jenni had just returned from a trip to Italy so they were thrilled with the choice, plus it was only a 5-minute walk to the venue. Perfect.
A few weeks ago, Paulo and I decided to visit Jimmy’s Farm in Wherstead on our way back to Cambridge from Ipswich. We had lunch at the restaurant and it definitely exceeded our expectations.
Even though the restaurant itself is impressive (it’s located in a beautiful converted barn), I expected the food to be basic and decent fare with lots of fresh ingredients, especially pork. It was indeed all of this, but I noticed that there was a real expertise in the presentation and flavours of the dishes.
The Salthouse Eaterie is the restaurant at The Salthouse Harbour Hotel, which is ideally located at Neptune Quay on the Ipswich Marina in Suffolk. Paulo and I were looking for a night away at a luxury hotel that offers fine dining and the Salthouse Harbour Hotel delivered on both counts.
We hadn’t been to Ipswich before and the waterfront, although still under development, was a pleasant and relaxing place to visit. The Salthouse Harbour Hotel is a beautiful Victorian building featuring arched windows and iron columns. It was originally a merchants warehouse and was refurbished to a high standard over 10 years ago. The Salthouse Eaterie overlooks the harbour.