If you love the restaurant at Perrywood Tiptree check out their new Sudbury cafe
PUBLISHED: 13:35 28 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:36 28 July 2019
The award-winning garden centre's refurbished and extended food offering is fully open now.
Keen gardeners and foodies will know the Perrywood brand well. The flagship store on the outskirts of Tiptree is a mecca for plant-lovers, gift seekers and hungry guests who can't get enough of their home-cooked food and nationally award-winning afternoon tea.
Last September the family (who've run Perrywood since 1955) bought the former Wyevale premises on Newton Road just outside Sudbury, spending the last few months putting changes in place - including a major overhaul of the café.
Hannah Powell, Perrywood communications and HR director and a member of the family, said: "We started talking about a new location as a family two or three years ago. We'd reached our limit at our site at Tiptree and it seemed a natural progression to take on another one. We did look locally, but when Wyevale put their buildings up for sale it was perfect. We wanted to come to Sudbury because it reflects what we've got in Tiptree - a growing heritage, rural location and huge potential. It felt like home."
Works have included extending the car park, and making the entrance to the building more 'Perrywood' introducing a 'jungle' of house plants and aspirational homeware and gifts.
However the most impressive addition is the café which should, like its Tiptree sister, attract visitors from miles around.
"We spent a lot of money refurbishing," says Hannah. "When we went in there to begin with there was a tiny, tiny kitchen. It didn't even have a food prep sink. Everything was microwaved and it only seated 30 people front of house. So we've swapped things around, put in a new kitchen and moved the counter so we can now seat 90 people. It's all completely new - new flooring, new furniture, new coffee machines - literally everything."
While the new expanded kitchen team finds its feet, the offering from the café (open every day) will continue to grow. It's open every day, from breakfast through to lunch, and everything in between.
Hannah adds: "I think we really just want to offer quality home-cooked food. Although there are lots of food and drink places and there's always new restaurants opening up, there's still a need for places like us that are cooking our menu from scratch. We're trying to go a step above, and I think it's the kind of thing people will travel for and come back to again and again. Something we're known for and always have are our homemade cakes and our 'famous' scones. The one people talk about most is stilton and walnut, and my favourite is the gluten-free - actually, we do a lot of gluten-free and dairy-free options. Some of our typical cakes are classics like Victoria sponge and carrot cake. And then we have traybakes like rocky road, millionaire's shortbread and more unusual ones. As the team gets to grips with the menu there'll be more variations. And everything's made and decorated on site."
What about those much-loved afternoon teas?
"At Tiptree our afternoon tea is patisserie and table service. When we took over Sudbury people were asking "will you have this, will you have that?" but we've got to get it right at every stage. We are offering cream teas but afternoon tea is definitely something the team will be looking at bringing in. We just need to build up the team."
In addition to sweet and savoury snacks, barista coffee, specialist teas and a range of other hot and cold drinks, the core menu offers freshly prepared sandwiches, jacket potatoes, quiches and soups, alongside daily changing specials such as homity pie, roast dinners, chilli, lasagnes and more, with a separate menu for children.
And what's next?
"We're still working on our masterplan. For the last nine months we've been focussing on how we maximise what we already have. Now we've done that, in January we have a polytunnel canopy going in as part of the plant area. That will enable us to have more tender plants and bedding plants because there's not enough undercover space for those at the moment. And then we'll start looking at wider plans. It's incredible really. The site is 35 acres and Tiptree is only 22, so there's a lot of scope."