EAT YOUR WAY AROUND THE FOODIE COUNTY: A GUIDE TO SOME OF THE BEST FOOD IN SUFFOLK
Over the last few years, Suffolk’s reputation as The Foodie County has grown from strength to strength. Thousands of foodies are now visiting this bountiful county in search of the finest food experiences, from picking wild mushrooms in a Suffolk forest to eating award-winning cuisine made by Suffolk’s best chefs, or supping the local tipple in a creaky-beamed pub. There is so much food to be tasted here, so many producers to meet and such delicious local delicacies to try for the first time, so where should a hungry foodie start? Here is our rough-and-ready guide to some of the best local hotspots to help you eat your way around Suffolk:
Foodie map of Suffolk – Click here to see a map of The Foodie County’s top destinations
In the intriguing landscape of The Brecks is the tiny village of Elveden, home to the Elveden Estate, a 22,500-acre estate comprising arable farmland, countryside dedicated for wildlife conservation, and habitats for wild game. Stop for a meal at The Courtyard (food sourced from the estate itself or the local area, of course), or peruse the reams of mouth-watering produce from over 50 local producers in the Food Hall.
BURY ST EDMUNDS
Food is central to life in the historic town of Bury St Edmunds, as the bustling twice-weekly farmers market would suggest. Beer lovers should not miss squeezing inside The Nutshell, Britain’s smallest pub, or a tasting tour at the Greene King Brewery. At the Old Cannon Brewery pub, you can even sit next to your pint as it’s being brewed. If cocktails are your preferred poison, make your way to the the Angel Hotel. But what are we thinking? You shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach – Maison Bleue and Pea Porridge are just two of the many great restaurants in town; head out of town to the village of Tuddenham and you’ll find the critically acclaimed Tuddenham Mill, or Wyken Vineyards in the village of Stanton, where you can dine at Wyken’s Leaping Hare restaurant after a tour of the vineyard itself.
At just 15ft by 7ft, The Nutshell in Bury St Edmunds is one of Britain’s smallest pub
Newmarket isn’t just home to the sport of kings – it’s also home to the sausages of kings. There are three types of Newmarket Sausage, all of which bear the Protected Geographical Indicator of Origin, but it’s Musks Newmarket Sausages that have been popular with the British monarchy since the beginning of the 20th century. With a recipe unchanged since Victorian times, and four Royal Warrants to date, Musks Sausages are about as historic as sausages can get. There’s also the world-famous Powters Newmarket sausage that has been made within the defined Newmarket geographical area using traditional methods and recipe dating back to the 1880’s. So next time you visit Newmarket, make sure one of these ends up on your post-race plate.
Butchers in Newmarket selling Powters sausages
Tudor Lavenham’s crooked streets are chock-a-block with foodie delights, with the top spot going to The Great House, a romantic hotel serving award-winning authentic French cuisine made by the co-owner and head chef, Regis Crèpy. Add to that Number 10 and the spectacular Gallery Restaurant at the 800-year-old The Swan Hotel, and Lavenham is not short of fine dining. There are also plenty of opportunities for a foodie to get hands-on: Lavenham Farmers Market currently holds the BBC Radio 4 Food & Farming award for being the Best Food Market in Suffolk, thanks in part to its ‘Upstairs at the Market’ range of food workshops.
Expect authentic French gastronomy at The Great House Lavenham (c) Rod Edwards
In the village of Creeting St Mary near Stowmarket you’ll find Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses, run by husband and wife team, Jason and Katherine. While you can find their Suffolk Blue, Suffolk Gold, and seasonal cheeses in restaurants and delis across the county, nothing beats a visit to the farm itself, where you can stock up on Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses in the farm shop, which is open for a few set hours a week.
You can pick up some Suffolk Farmhouses Cheeses straight from the farm shop (c) Rod Edwards
Another Suffolk producer with a Royal Warrant, close to the Suffolk coast, is Emmett’s of Peasenhall has been serving succulent smoked hams since 1820. You can stop by this heavenly smokehouse and emporium on your way through Suffolk to peruse the well-stocked shelves, or have an Emmett’s Bacon sandwich in the onsite café. And just down the road is The Weavers Tea Room, where you can relax in the shade of tall conifers with a cream tea and a freshly baked scone.
Suffolk’s county town has a lot to offer visiting foodies, from the Mariners restaurant floating aboard a 19th-century vessel to the boutique Salthouse Harbour Hotel and its oh-so-stylish afternoon teas. But it’s just outside Ipswich that you’ll find the real foodie gems. The Suffolk Food Hall on the banks of the River Orwell was voted the Countryside Alliance’s Best Local Food Venue in the UK, comprising a vast food market filled with produce from the adjoining farm, and a popular restaurant. Then there’s Jimmy’s Farm, where brilliant family days out are centred around the discovery of food and farming.
The Cookhouse Restaurant at the Suffolk Food Hall with views overlooking the River Orwell
Not only is the riverside town of Woodbridge picturesque, but it also boasts a thriving foodie scene. The annual Woodbridge Shuck festival celebrates seafood and all things sea-related (prepare to hear some sea-shanties), while at the Tide Mill Living Museum you can watch flour being milled using a centuries-old technique, and even take a bag or two home yourself. Tide Mill flour is the staple at the Cake Shop Bakery in Woodbridge, the current reigning champions of ITV’s Britain’s Best Bakery show. In nearby Ufford is the White Lion Inn, a brewery pub with a gorgeous country garden and their own cask ales on tap, and the Unruly Pig, a critically-acclaimed gastropub that was named the Best Pub in Suffolk at the 2016 National Pub and Bar Awards.
Woodbridge Tide Mill
The Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival is established as one of the best food festivals in the country. But what does Aldeburgh offer foodies on the other 363 days of the year? The answer is, a lot. The Aldeburgh Fish & Chip Shop has been described as the best fish and chippy in the world, and whether that’s true or not, the queues round the block speak volumes. Then there are the fresh fish huts dotted along Aldeburgh beach, where you can nip down every morning to take your pick from the day’s catch. What more could a visiting sea-foodie want?
Dean Fryer is one of the fishermen selling fresh fish on Aldeburgh beach (c) Rod Edwards
Just a short walk from Aldeburgh, Snape plays host to the famous food and drink festival in its 19th-century maltings. It’s at Snape Maltings that you’ll find the Pantry, a deli packed full of delicious produce from Suffolk’s farmers and artisan producers, and if you’d like to meet any of them face to face, make sure you visit the Snape Maltings Farmers Market on the first Saturday of every month.
Snape Maltings is home to the famous Aldeburgh Food Festival
Orford’s diminutive size is no reflection of the foodie punch this little fishing village packs. Its star attractions include Pump St Bakery, where you can find mouth-watering breads, pastries, and handmade chocolate, not to mention doughnuts so good they received a mention at the 2015 Oscars. Pinney’s of Orford is another must-visit for any foodie: this family-run smokehouse sells award-winning smoked fish, as well as locally grown oysters from nearby Butley Creek. To experience the best of Pinney’s, have a slap-up seafood lunch at their restaurant, the Butley Orford Oysterage.
Pump St Bakery’s doughnuts are famously good (c) Rod Edwards
You know you’re in Southwold when you can smell the malt-clouds billowing from the chimneys of the Adnams Sole Bay Brewery and mixing with the salty Suffolk Coast air. Beer lovers won’t want to miss a tasting tour of this famous brewery, and gin lovers will be in heaven on a gin making course at the Adnams Copper House Distillery next door. As expected, Southwold is full of Adnams pubs, the best of which overlook the sparkling sea on a sunny day. The town also has a wealth of independent delis and bakeries, the Two Magpies Bakery, and the Black Olive Delicatessen to name just two – but for the traditionalist, a bacon sarnie on the beach from Suzie’s Beach Cafe can’t be beaten.
Adnams Copper House distillery in Southwold
The historic home of the ‘silver darling,’ Lowestoft has a fascinating history of herring fishing, but it’s the Green Jack Brewery that makes this list today. The best place to sample Green Jack’s range of real ales is in its brewery pub, the Triangle Tavern.
St Peter’s Brewery is possibly the prettiest brewery in Suffolk
The market town of Bungay is home to the popular Earsham Street Deli, and Fen Farm Dairy, a small dairy farm where you can watch butter being churned and buy raw milk and butter at the farm gate. A few miles outside Bungay is the spectacular St Peter’s Brewery, perhaps the prettiest brewery in the country. Set in picturesque buildings surrounded by a moat, it’s worth stopping at St Peter’s just to take a photo, but you might as well book a brewery tour and have a meal in the great hall while you’re there.
Don’t forget you can find all of these foodie destinations and more on our map of The Foodie County here.