From Texas-style barbecue, to macarons and chocolate tours - East Anglia's best foodie experiences
PUBLISHED: 11:53 17 September 2018
macarons and more
How many of our food and drink experiences have you tried?
Pintxos in San Sebastian (undoubtedly one of the best places to eat on the planet) have topped Lonely Planet’s recently published Eatlist as the most extraordinary food experience (of 500) on the face of the Earth.
But, you know what, you don’t have to get on a plane to discover amazing eats. Yeah, sushi in Tokyo (number three) and great hulking slabs of brisket in Texas (four) will surely set your tastebuds ablaze, but don’t write off this very fine land in which we live.
The bread basket of England, East Anglia has so much more to offer than barley and wheat. Come on, get ready – here are some experiences on our doorstep you can’t afford to miss…in no particular order!
1. Lobster Thermidor at Wells Crab House – Winner recently of Best Restaurant and Outstanding Front of House in the Eat Norfolk Food and Drink Awards. Chef-patron Scott gets his lobster right off the Wells harbour and smothers it in this indulgent boozy, cheesy sauce with a hit of tarragon. Chips on the side are a must for his signature dish.
2. Fish and chips in Aldeburgh – So popular they’re almost a cliché. There are too many great fish and chip shops to mention in the region, but The Golden Galleon and Aldeburgh Fish and Chips in this smart seaside town still hold a place in many peoples’ hearts. Just so you know, you have to eat them on the sea wall. Watch out for the seagulls!
3. Afternoon tea at The Assembly House in Norwich – according to the Eat Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2018, this jaw-droppingly beautiful architectural gem in the heart of Norwich produces the best afternoon tea in Norfolk. Chef-patron Richard Hughes will be the first to put this down to the talents of head pastry chef Mark Mitson who really puts the razzle dazzle on the plate. Look out for the School of Magic afternoon tea this October half term.
4. Sushi from scratch – Pah, forget Tokyo. Kaori and Guy Dawson have fresh sushi pegged at their pop-up Suzuki Supper Club in Bury St Edmunds. Taking in small groups only, the couple prepare an authentic feast right in front of your very eyes and only use the best locally source fish for their nigari and hoso-maki.
5. Taste the world at Norwich Market- Ooh yeah there’s loads to try here. Freshly made lasagne from Lasagneria. Japanese street food at Bun Box. Chilean bites from Cocina Mia. Palm sized arancini at Sicily Market. Eat your way through the stalls.
6. Butter chicken from the master – Forgive the name and location. Temptationz is found in an unassuming, but nice, residential part of Woodbridge, amongst a small parade of shops/services. Everything in the tiny restaurant is cooked fresh to order, but the true star is the mouthwatering butter chicken, taught to the experienced head chef by the creator of the dish in New Delhi.
7. French-style macarons – Tim Kinnaird has recently announced a second location for his Norwich-based Macarons & More. The brownies and bakes are divine, but it’s the Insta-friendly macarons that take pride of place. In flavours from chocolate and cherry to lavender they wouldn’t look out of place in Paris’ Pierre Herme bakeries.
8. Sexy sticky toffee pudding – If you like your sticky toffee light in texture but daringly dark in flavour, and smothered in spoon-lickingly golden sauce, step right up. Ugur, owner of The Galley in Woodbridge, daren’t take his ‘sexy’ pud off the menu. It’s been a customer favourite for years!
9. Dinner at Morston Hall – As well as being a thoroughly nice chap, Galton Blackiston is a fine chef and the restaurant at his and wife Tracy’s boutique country hotel, is the only place to hold a Michelin star in East Anglia. Dinner is a set tasting menu in one sitting and will always reflect the seasons and fine Norfolk produce such as seafood from John the Fish and locally-shot game.
10. Make your own gin – Over the past few years Adnams has made quite a stir on the spirits scene, winning praise for its vodka and gin especially. Now you can make your own gin at the flagship Southwold distillery, Norwich Westlegate or Bury St Edmunds stores. It’s just £95 per person, including selecting your botanicals, following the copper pot distillation process and bottling. Don’t worry – you get to take it home after.
11. Posh fried chicken at Drove Orchards – Close to the north Norfolk coastline you’ll find this little hub – also home to Eric’s fish and chips. If you were left clucking after the KFC chicken shortage earlier this year you might have sought out Shuck’s at the Yurt where they toss local chicken in buttermilk and seasoning before crisping it to perfection. Order a side of dirty fries while you’re at it.
12. Handmade pasta at the pig – Eat Suffolk Restaurant of the Year, The Unruly Pig, has been putting the county on the map in all the guides with its Britalian menu. Head chef Dave Wall and his team make cracking fresh pasta – one of the reasons for the eatery’s win. A recent example is octopus with nduja tortellini and burrata.
13. Some of the best pizza in the UK – Suffolk Stonehouse in Bungay a few years ago was crowned the top pizza place in the country. Yes, it’s still good. The dough’s proved in the cellar before being hand stretched and topped with combinations such as The Waveney (flat mushrooms, truffle oil, tomato, mozzarella, Maldon salt and cracked black pepper).
14. High Sea at Grosvenor Fish Bar – A Norwich fave that does fish and chips a bit differently. Where else can you have fried green tomatoes and spicy steamed cod wraps, or even toad in the hole, alongside regular cod and chips? This year the restaurant and takeaway launched its take on afternoon tea. Tiers of battered whitebait, cod goujon, tiger prawns, cod cheeks and squid, with clam sliders, chips and dips.
15. Award-winning pies – Norfolk has Bray’s Cottage and Suffolk has Truly Traceable – a husband and wife run operation that won Field to Fork in the Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards 2018, and is a finalist in the inaugural Eat Game Awards. Husband Steve shoots and prepares much of the game that goes into the pies and pastries whipped up with local ingredients by Lynn. We like the pheasant and free-range pork sausage roll and venison shank pie.
16. Norfolk Deli sandwiches – Big fat properly filled sarnies made in Hunstanton with decent ingredients. They do ‘em proper here. From traditional favourites to the Sabich – brimming with smoked aubergine, hummus, egg and gherkin.
17. Dinner at The Leaping Hare – Stunning, very local produce (think game from the estate and veg from the kitchen garden) are turned into food matched in its loveliness by the parkland setting and array of wines from Wyken’s own vineyard. It’s incredibly romantic.
18. Try British tofu – Tofurei on Norwich’s Lanes is not only a vegan café, it makes its own tofu and soya milk too, and with Norfolk grown soya no less! The deli counter is loaded with tofu goodness.
19. Go on a chocolate tour – Pump Street Bakery owner Chris has always had a fascination with the why/who/how of everything. What started as an obsession with bread following a meal at London’s St John, soon turned to chocolate. From bean to bar, every scrummy morsel of Pump Street chocolate is made in Suffolk and you can go behind the scenes this October in a factory tour as part of Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival’s fringe. It’s £20 per person.
20. Eat food from a Great British Menu veteran – You may have seen endlessly enthusiastic Norwich chef Richard Bainbridge on Great British Menu both as a contestant and a judge. His restaurant in the city, Benedicts, is a must, showing the versatility of vegetables, herbs, local meat and more to beautiful effect. Surprises come in the form of his quirky snacks at the beginning of the meal. Nanny Bush’s Trifle is a must.
21. Ice cream at Hadley’s at Lavenham – A multiple Great Taste Award winner. Jane Hadley only uses local milk and cream, free-range eggs and natural, gourmet ingredients to flavour her ice cream. Her ice cream parlour in medieval Lavenham is very sweet. Try the Caramel & Pecan and Elderflower & Lime flavours.
22. The best fudge ever – This is coming from a real connoisseur. If you love a bit of fudge head for Courtyard Confectionary at Wroxham Barns where owner Ricky is truly making some cracking all-butter and cream confections. The maple walnut and peanut butter flavours are dreamy. Check out The Scrummy Pig foodie shop while you’re there too.
23. A Hemingway-esque cocktail bar – You can quite easily imagine the author swinging by the seat of his pants in the effortlessly cool bar at Bury St Edmund boutique hotel The Northgate. Only premium spirits are used in the extensive cocktail list. Try out the Kakawa – bourbon, cacao nib infusion, sweet vermouth and Amaro.
24. Aussie pies – Do you like yours covered in gravy or, Aussie-style, with a bit of Tommy K? They do so much more than the traditional Australian meat pie at Norwich’s Flaming Galah. For example, how does this recent one take you? The Balti Bangers – a pie filled with sausages on a bed of aloo pakora, topped with Balti sauce, onion bhaji and hot green chilli oil. OMG.
25. Lunch at ICE bar – ICE Cook School in Rougham has more gadgets and gizmos than you could hope to fit in your kitchen. When they’re not supplying Michelin restaurants or teaching, the cooking team are spending lunchtimes entertaining diners (only 12 at a time) in their lunch bar, where loads of little plates are rustled up and served before your very eyes. Booking is a must.
26. All kinds of treats at Byfords – You can’t go to Holt in Norfolk without visiting the deli/food shop/café behemoth that is Byfords. Choose from artisan breads, stone-baked pizzas, homemade ready meals, legendary pasties, homemade gelato and a vast array of cakes from their sister company SPONGE. The coffee and walnut cake is to die for.
27. Stack up the patties at Love Thy Burger – Owner Adam travelled the States extensively before setting up his owner burger joint in Colchester. And it was so popular he added an Ipswich branch. These are seriously seriously good burgers made with meat from the local butcher, hand pressed every day on site and cooked to a juicy medium pink. Try The Big Smoke – with red onion marmalade, cheese, tomato, pickles, lettuce, smoked bacon, crispy deep fried onions, chipotle mayo and ketchup. Beware – the rosemary fries are addictive.
28. Some of the best whisky in the world – Yep, that’s right. St George’s Distillery in Roudham can stand up with the best of them and has so many awards the owners have probably stopped counting! The English Original is a gold medallist aged in bourbon casks which help bring a hint of vanilla to the spirit, which is slightly nutty with a malty finish.
29. The ones to watch – Grain Colchester is a Crowdfunded restaurant off the beaten track from the high street. The two young chefs have got small plate dining down to a fine art and their regularly changing menu (almost daily) has won them loads of fans. From a bag of warm freshly made rolls with churned butter at the start, to plates such as roast sweetcorn pastilla with peanut and crispy onions, or banana with pecan, caramel, miso and lime, there’s something pretty special about what the guys are doing here.
30. Cakes at Biddy’s Tearoom – Go with an appetite to this very unique vintage-style tearoom tucked away in the Norwich Lanes. The cakes are flipping ginormous. Their brownies, millionaire’s shortbread and rocky road/tiffin can’t be bettered.
31. A lunch cruise on the Lady Florence – Pootle along the rivers Ore and Alde, departing from Orford in Suffolk on a very civilised lunch with fabulous views. It’s less than £25 per person, with a three course menu of simple, wholesome fare such as smoked duck breasts with salad, fresh fillet of the day with pesto cream sauce and herb oil, and local fruit crumble.
32. Brunch at Darsham Nurseries – Found along the A12 north of Yoxford there’s so much more to this garden nursery and lifestyle store. The café uses homegrown ingredients and local fare to create dishes you’d never find in any regular roadside garden centre. Brunch is served all day Sunday and varies. There could be Turkish style eggs, coffee cured salmon or thick American pancakes with local bacon and syrup.
33. Will Wooster’s bread – Whether you head for one of the farmers’ markets Wooster’s attends, or visit the bakery at Bardwell’s windmill, you won’t fail to be blown away by the baked goods coming out of this young baker’s kitchen. Seeded sourdoughs. The softest, fluffiest Scotch batch baked white loaves. The best malt loaf in the UK without a doubt, sticky with caramel. Cruffins (croissant muffins) stuffed with orange crème pat and dark chocolate. Doughnuts studded with seasonal fruit. This is surely some of the best baking in the country?
34. Award-winning bangers for dinner – Jamie Archer of Archer’s Butchers of Norwich, still uses a sausage recipe handed down to him through the family. He is the unofficial king of sausages in the city having won Battle of the Bangers loads of times, taking home both the judge and publicly voted awards in the last ever event this year. With a pile of steaming mash they’re a must on your plate this autumn.
35. Chomp on vegan croissants – Yes it’s possible! Holly and Christophe of Cradle in Sudbury have done the seemingly impossible. The couple came up with a top secret ethical vegan butter recipe in their test kitchen and are able to make patisserie that is indistinguishable from its dairy-laden counterparts. Not only this but they grind their own flour too!
36. A luxury lunch of Mersea oysters – Known worldwide, the Colchester oyster is a slippery, brackish nugget of deliciousness for those who enjoy seafood and Mersea is THE place to go try them. The Company Shed is one of the oldest suppliers. Take your own bread, pull up a seat in the restaurant and get stuck into a platter.
37. Proper barbecue – A relative newcomer to the region is The Station Smokehouse in Hoveton. If you can’t quite make it to Texas for that brisket, look to this restaurant with its wood-fired, low and slow cooked meats. Oh yes. Think St Louis Cut extra meaty ribs, dry rubbed brisket smoked over hickory wood, and dirty rice.
What foodie experiences have we missed? Tell us your favourites and help us take the list to 50 for our online version. Email firstname.lastname@example.org