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The Crown at Woodbridge to stay

The Crown Restaurant at Woodbridge

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- The Crown at Woodbridge

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The Crown at Woodbridge to stay

The Crown Restaurant at Woodbridge

The Crown at Woodbridge to stay

woodbridge flatford This was my first visit to Suffolk. It’s an English county on the right-hand edge of the map of England and comprises the bottom half of that roundy bit that sticks out into the North Sea. The coastline is a draw, but there are so many reasons to visit this beautiful county, as I was to discover.

Flatford Mill will be a name familiar to all of us who have ever even heard of the artist John Constable. Flatford Mill (Scene on a Navigable River) is an oil painting that English artist executed in 1816; it shows a lad on a horse dragging working barges up the River Stour from Dedham Lock to the mill. The Hay Wain shows the buildings at Flatford Mill, and one can still see them today. This is a remarkably unspoilt corner of England.

Snape Maltings is one of the world’s leading centres of music, covering all genres from classic to folk, world and jazz. But there is more in this complex of restored buildings. There are galleries, sculptures from the likes of Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, and there are some rather classy home décor and gift shops. One could spend a whole day here… but that might mean missing out on Woodbridge.

woodbridge bar But why Woodbridge? Well, it happened to be the town where one finds The Crown – now one of my favourite small hotels; but what else is there? Over 100 independent boutique stores with some outstanding clothes shops, and one in particular which sells 1920s-style hats – what a revelation. It’s an estuary-coastal town and one which appeals to the yachting fraternity who evidently appreciate quality. There is a working tide mill, and quaint houses and pubs.

I mentioned The Crown. And it is a small but perfectly formed inn – or is it a hotel with a restaurant; or is it a restaurant with superb rooms? There are ten of those rooms and they are all individually and tastefully presented. Ours was so well-appointed that it has actually given us some design inspiration for our own home bedroom make-over, OK, perhaps without the tea and coffee station… although…

Our bathroom was of a size appropriate for a tea dance and garnished with some rather fine toiletries. The bed was substantial, pillowy, crisp with white linen, and warm. The sofa was inviting and there were antique books to enjoy while there. Plenty of the aforementioned tea and coffee, and even real milk and cookies to welcome the travel-weary.

Yes, this is a 16th century building and it retains many original features, but it has carefully introduced modern technology and, thankfully, plumbing. There are design nods to its location by the water. There is a boat floating above the bar and fishing tackle outside our door, but the ambiance is cool-contemporary with rustic elegance. There is a new outside terrace edged with wattle hurdles, and thus ideal for tranquil evening drinks.

woodbridge crown The restaurant at The Crown is worthy of the rest of the hotel. It sports the same neutral colours and a rather good breakfast menu. They use cast iron Japanese teapots, they offer local produce and even the jam is from around here. They’ll prepare filled baps for those who want an early start in order to explore.

The Crown at Woodbridge is intimate, friendly and charming, and right in the middle of town. It’s professionally run with staff who are evidently well-trained in the finer points of hospitality. It’s a real find and I’ll be back!

Read my review of the restaurant at The Crown at Woodbridge below

The Crown at Woodbridge
The Thoroughfare
Suffolk IP12 1AD

Phone: 01394 384242


Visit The Crown at Woodbridge here

food and travel reviews

The Crown Restaurant at Woodbridge

crown woodbridge boat OK, I confess, I had never visited Suffolk. I discovered a strikingly beautiful county with coast, pasture, chocolate-box villages and historic towns. I discovered Woodbridge!

The Crown Hotel (review to follow shortly) houses its eponymous 2 AA Rosette restaurant, which is recommended in the Michelin Guide. It’s found at the top of The Thoroughfare which is the town’s high street, in what is quite an anonymous building. Its exterior hides contemporary, cool design with international quality and local charm. The food here is as good as you will find in any capital city.

Head Chef Darran Hazelton is wedded to fresh local produce. Not just for the sake of it: it’s just that there is truly so much here to excite any professional cook or discerning diner. There is seafood from that aforementioned coast, and some of the best meat in the UK comes courtesy of local farms. There are the best of ingredients at The Crown and the dishes offer both traditional plates along with innovation.

crown woodbridge crab This is a 16th century building but the restaurant is bright and fresh. Windows which look out over the bustling street are etched with silhouettes of local historic buildings – and the town is blessed in that regard. Tables are well-spaced and cater for couples or larger parties. Staff are knowledgeable and discreetly attentive, and the food will likely guarantee a return.

Suffolk grows asparagus but it has a relatively short season, making it a delicious local treat. If you are lucky enough to be visiting The Crown in those short spring months then you might find asparagus and cheddar quiche as a starter or served with a poached egg as a main course.

Cromer is a seaside town in East Anglia and it’s famed for its crab, so I ordered Potted Cromer crab with tarragon mayo, avocado and pink grapefruit, along with sourdough, as my starter. That bread was topped with flavourful brown crab meat which is, in my opinion at least, the most delicious part of the crustacean. An attractive presentation of salad leaves and Kilner jar.

crown woodbridge fish ‘Pinneys’ smoked eel, bacon, apple and ginger dressing with lemon crème fraîche was my guest’s starter. These fillets of eel were pale in colour but had a marked and balanced smoky taste. They were moist and marvellously paired with the bacon.

Adnams is a local brewery and their beer is a key ingredient in The Crown’s Dry Hop battered fish, served with rosemary fries, crushed peas and tartare sauce. This must surely be the most classic of British dishes, and therefore unmissable here.

That fish dish did appeal to me, but brill was also on the menu and I had never tried that. Poached fillets of brill, tomato consommé, samphire, crayfish ravioli and cockles was a picture of vibrant vegetables and pearly-white fish. This should be a signature dish, and it showcased local produce served with flair. A winner!

My guest’s main course was Guinea Fowl supreme, wild garlic and spring vegetable with pearl barley risotto, wild mushrooms and truffle. A great presentation of this game bird and the garlic added another dimension. This is another vegetable with a short season and it was savoured by the diner who pronounced the dish to be memorable.

crown woodbridge chocolate The dessert menu offered twists on British favourites along with classy innovations. For those who enjoy a nod towards traditional then they will want to try Adnams sourdough treacle tart with a scattering of almond streusel, served with mascarpone ice cream. That local brewery has a hand in dessert too!

My guest ordered poached local rhubarb, yoghurt pannacotta, citrus Chantilly and ginger crumble. Rhubarb crumble is indeed traditional but this version was somewhat deconstructed and the garnishes elevated this pud to smart restaurant fare.

Chocolate delice with rum-soaked oranges, chocolate crumb, and orange marmalade ice cream was my choice. This was a substantial and sweet finish to a first-class meal. It was sophisticated, rich from the chocolate truffle, with refreshing tang from the fruit. The last bite of dinner was just as satisfying as the first. The Crown Restaurant didn’t put a foot wrong.

Breakfast: Monday to Friday 7am - 10am. Saturday and Sunday 8am - 10am
Lunch: 12 noon to 2:30pm daily
Afternoon tea (must be booked in advance): 2.30pm - 6pm daily
Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 6pm to 9pm, Friday and Saturday 6pm - 9.30pm

The Crown Restaurant
The Thoroughfare
Suffolk IP12 1AD

Phone: 01394 384242

Visit The Crown Restaurant here

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