“Phenomenal food and a mellow mood at this boutique pub with rooms in a quiet Suffolk village”
A more recent addition to the original pub (built in 2008), the 11 rooms are housed in a weather-boarded building out back. Inside, they are immaculate, with kingsize beds, top-quality linens, and country views or terraces. Look more closely and you'll find some beautiful fittings and furnishings made by Jim Lawrence: woven-metal handles and curtain rails, beautiful porcelain lamps and classic armchairs.
Style-wise, our top choice would be the country-style rooms on the first floor (2 Superiors and 1 Deluxe), which we loved, with their white iron bedsteads and aqua Nina Campbell 'Birdcage' wallpaper. The ground-floor rooms are contemporary with cherrywood sleigh beds, scarlet damask curtains, boldly patterned wallpapers and suede lampshades, but (we felt) slightly sterile, with a lack of homely touches such as paintings and plants. That said, the rooms in general couldn't be more comfortable and everything is in place for a relaxing stay: DVD player, well-stocked minibar, WiFi, an ironing board etc.
During our 2012 revisit, we stayed in one of the upstairs Superior Rooms (210) and we particularly liked the amazing views looking over those Constable-country hills. Deluxe Rooms have the added luxury of walk-in showers, and if you really want to push the boat out you can opt for the expansive Executive Room with its private terrace and charming countryside views.
Bathrooms are super modern and a real strong point. Most have large bathtubs and all have powerful showers, French toiletries and piles of sumptuous towels. Underfloor heating was lovely in the mornings, but less so in the middle of the night, when the bedroom got rather hot.
Meals are served in the pub and restaurant area. The latter seemed a bit formal but overall there was a convivial, warm atmosphere; we loved it. We stayed midweek and the bar was buzzing with a mixture of hotel guests and locals. Divided into lots of little sections, the tables felt cosy and private, but the open kitchen acted as a focal point. In summer, there's a stone terrace surrounded by tubs of flowers for alfresco dining, but we were there in autumn and loved the roaring log fire in the middle of the room.
The food itself was utterly delicious. The emphasis is on local produce and hearty portions; happily, we're fans of both. A nice half pint of local smoked shrimps and a warming stew-like vegetable soup got our dinner off to a good start. For the main course, we ordered steak (the gastro-pub litmus test: it was perfectly cooked and absolutely huge) and pan-fried duck with wild mushrooms in a red wine sauce (one of the tastiest meals we have ever eaten). Other options included stuffed globe artichoke and new season partridge, and there’s also a 'Catch of the Day' section with daily changing, freshly caught fish - mussels, oysters and mackerel make regular appearances.
Puddings are perfect and often had a fun retro twist: lemon roly-poly with vanilla brûlée, chilli roasted pineapple with Greek yoghurt panna cotta, homemade pina colada sorbet, and Muscat crème caramel. In addition to their excellent Adnams beers, Richard (the managing director) has compiled an excellent and extensive wine list. We were recommended a lovely white to complement our meal. There's an a la carte menu for both lunch and dinner, as well as a lunchtime taster set menu.
The chefs are equally passionate about breakfast - a rarity among gastro-pubs - and the choice was unbelievable, with each section (English, Hot Alternatives, Light Start, Healthy) containing a range of options. Between us we tried eggs Florentine (wonderful), a free-range omelette with goat's cheese and tomatoes (a bit dry), French toast with berries, bacon and syrup (sublime), and the full English (incredible smoked rare breed bacon and sausages). In the interest of research, we also tried the yummy banana, raspberry and blueberry smoothies. It's a tough job...
Other nearby options include The Sun Inn in Dedham, and Mistley Thorn.
Children are welcome but there are no special facilities for them and the vibe is adult rather than family. Extra beds can be provided in some rooms but there are no baby cots. There is a small dedicated children's menu.
Teens (over 12)
Extra Beds Available