It feels like such a long time ago that Dexter and I went to Woodbridge in Suffolk but I thought I would share with you what we got up to.
We were invited as guests of Visit Suffolk and we were lucky enough to be invited to stay at The Crown, a beautiful hotel/restaurant/bar (and even spa). They are committed to working in a sustainable way and have implemented proactive measures to protect and sustain the local environment. So all in all, they’re pretty good eggs.
Amazingly, I’ve never been to Suffolk before, which is quite sad to say bearing in mind I’m 45. The reason I am travelling so much in the UK at the moment is precisely for this reason – I want to explore more of the world, but especially the UK, and what I’ve found so far, is that there are hidden gems in the UK that I’ve really been missing out on.
Suffolk is only a two hour car ride away for us in Kent so we set off after Dexter got home from school and luckily, the Friday rush hour traffic wasn’t too bad. Besides, Dexter watched a film on my laptop all the way there so I could sing along to Beyoncé in peace!
We found The Crown easily, parked up and checked in in less than 10 minutes. It was about 7pm and we were absolutely starving so we just dropped our bags off upstairs and came down for a gin or two. J20 for Dexter, honest. The gin was amazing by the way, and well deserved too, if I say so myself.
The pub is very modern, with a boutique hotel feel to it. Clean lines, wooden floors, a great selection of drinks and something I always look for, warm, friendly and welcoming staff. A particular mention goes to the young man with the great beard that was so friendly and fantastic with Dexter. Top marks (on both the beard and the service.)
Onto the food. Wow. Seriously, some of the best food I think I have ever eaten, and I don’t say that lightly. We were treated to an extra course before our chosen starters arrived – I was given a lightly cured duck salad and Dexter was given quail with a potato croquette and grilled cabbage. To give him his dues, Dexter did try his dish but thankfully (for me anyway), it wasn’t really to his taste. However, this was the first time I had tried quail and it was absolutely amazing! Coupled with the grilled cabbage, which tasted so much better than it sounded, this was honestly one of the nicest meals I have ever eaten.
For our main meals Dexter chose cod with Suffolk chorizo and bean cassoulet, along with crispy kale. Kale is something else I’ve never eaten before, so I totally stole it from his plate and it was delicious! There is something I never thought I would say about Kale, but the way they cooked it well, I could’ve eaten a big bag of it. I chose an aged ribeye steak with confit onion and rosemary fries. As per usual, my eyes were bigger than my belly and I only managed half of it, which is sacrilege really considering the quality of the meat but I was just so full up by that point. Although, not so full up that we didn’t have dessert! We asked whether it would be possible to have dessert in our room later on that evening and they were happy to oblige. Dexter chose Lemon poppy seed sponge with blackberries and white chocolate, and I chose caramelised bananas with a small waffle, passion fruit and rice pudding. Really unusual desserts I’ve never seen anywhere else before and they ended the meal perfectly.
I’ve said it before but oh … my … god, the food was outstanding. I would definitely travel the two hours to Suffolk just to eat at this restaurant again so I doth my cap to the chefs!
We stayed in a twin room that was decorated beautifully – simple white with lovely little touches like home-made cookies in a jar on the tea and coffee tray, and top quality toiletries in the bathroom. The only negative from our entire stay at The Crown was that our room was opposite a small side road and there was a big orange street lamp outside our bedroom. It didn’t seem to bother Dexter, he was fast asleep by 10pm, but the light didn’t go out until midnight and so it kept me awake. A blackout blind would easily sort this issue out though.
We were the first to arrive downstairs for breakfast and I noticed that there were jugs of freshly squeezed orange juice on every table, which was a lovely touch. I asked for coffee but it wasn’t strong enough for my tastes so I asked the waitress if she would mind making me a stronger one, and it was no trouble at all for her. The service again was impeccable. I know I keep wanging on about how good the food was but the cooked breakfast was just incredible. A basket of bread and pastries preceded the most divine cooked breakfast. Thick, smoked bacon, fat juicy sausages and perfectly poached eggs. Amazing.
We needed a lie down after breakfast so went back to our room but I decided to go and explore the town for an hour on my own as Dexter as happy, as most tweens are, to just chill out and watch YouTube for awhile. (No problems at all with the Wi-Fi by the way!)
The Crown is at the top end of the High Street and with Woodbridge being a market town, it was all very civilised, with quirky shops and cafes galore. Our waiter the night before had commented that the delicious bread that we couldn’t get enough of, was from the bakery in this road called The Cake Shop Bakery , which was voted Britain’s best bakery in 2014! What an accolade! So I spent a lovely hour pottering down the High Street, I even bought a dress (albeit from a posh charity shop), and really enjoyed this me-time in the sunshine. I came across this lovely church, took a few snaps and then headed back to The Crown. I don’t think Dexter had moved 1” from the time I left.
It was now checkout time and we hadn’t eaten for a whole hour so it was definitely time for lunch.
We had been invited to visit Honey + Harvey, a cute little cafe that has just completed a fantastic renovation at the back which provided lots of seating. However, it’s so popular that I would really advise getting there early so that you can find somewhere to sit! Billed as one of The Independent’s Top 50 Coffee Shops in the UK in 2013, Honey + Harvey sells fantastic artisan roasted coffee, with fantastic home-made food – including freshly made pies that looked (and smelt) incredible. We tried out an egg ciabatta and Dexter had a delicious cheese and ham sandwich, that was pretty much inhaled.
I was still full up from breakfast but obviously not too full up to try out the triple layer Victoria sponge, although in my defence, I only ate half. I had to donate the other half to Dexter because he had chosen a dessert that had nuts in it which he didn’t like. Silly boy. I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of coffee, I drink enough of the stuff, and the coffee was delicious too. All round, a fabulous café in a lovely town.
We were due to travel over to Lavenham where an organised walk had been arranged for us. However, as we got in the car and began our journey, the heavens opened and the rain was so torrential that I just thought it best to cancel. So with that, we headed home.
It was such a lovely little mini break in Woodbridge. It’s a town I had never heard of, a county I had never visited but a place that I would love to return to … but perhaps in the summer!