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New riverside restaurant opening in Suffolk this autumn

PUBLISHED: 12:30 30 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:27 30 September 2020

Emma Cole has left teaching behind to open Woodbridge's first waterside restaurant.
The Boathouse Kitchen and Bar is on the new development on Tide Mill Way. Pictured with her is Head Chef Arron Digby.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020

Emma Cole has left teaching behind to open Woodbridge's first waterside restaurant. The Boathouse Kitchen and Bar is on the new development on Tide Mill Way. Pictured with her is Head Chef Arron Digby. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Archant 2020

The Boathouse will serve modern British food, interesting beer and cocktails.

Emma Cole has left teaching behind to open Woodbridge's first waterside restaurant.
The Boathouse Kitchen and Bar is on the new development on Tide Mill Way.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Emma Cole has left teaching behind to open Woodbridge's first waterside restaurant. The Boathouse Kitchen and Bar is on the new development on Tide Mill Way. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

A new restaurant serving locally-sourced food, fine wines and cocktails is set to open in Woodbridge this autumn.

The Boathouse, owned by Emma and Alex Cole, will be the only place diners can eat right next to the riverside in the town, and forms part of the Whisstocks development, which is currently taking shape.

A family affair, Emma (who previously worked as a teacher) says she will be joined in her “passion project” by daughter Phoebe and various other family members.

“Lockdown has been stressful,” Emma reveals, talking about the development. “We have all the walls up in the building now and most of the electrics are done. We’re on track and hoping to get in there by the second week of November.

Emma Cole has left teaching behind to open Woodbridge's first waterside restaurant.
The Boathouse Kitchen and Bar is on the new development on Tide Mill Way. Pictured with her is Head Chef Arron Digby.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Emma Cole has left teaching behind to open Woodbridge's first waterside restaurant. The Boathouse Kitchen and Bar is on the new development on Tide Mill Way. Pictured with her is Head Chef Arron Digby. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

“The location is absolutely beautiful. It’s going to be really stunning. Obviously this is a really difficult time to open a restaurant, but people seem keen to go out to eat. We’ve got to think ourselves lucky we didn’t open pre-Covid as we’ve had this in the pipeline for two years now. We found the site and there were lots of planning issues, but we’ve stuck with it and we’re hoping through being patient and resilient it will finally pay off. It’s such a wonderful place I think it will be successful once we get through these hard times – and we have lots of contingency plans in place if the worst comes to the worst.”

These include, says Emma, offering takeaways from day one.

“It will be good to have those on offer alongside dining in, and we really want to be involved with the community. I have plans to set up a book club, cheese and wine nights, food and wine pairings.”

Emma adds that opening The Boathouse is a “dream come true”, saying she and Alex have “invested everything” in the new venture.

The restaurant has an outside terrace running along one side, and two dining spaces indoors – one less formal and ideal for families, walkers and dog owners out with their pets, and the other more formal, lending itself to romantic riverside dinners for two.

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While it has capacity for up to 50 covers inside and 30 on the terrace, this number will be reduced to around half on opening to accommodate current social distancing guidelines.

Head chef Arron Digby, who spent much of his career in Essex but was most recently at the Lord Nelson in Southwold, has joined the team and will be crafting a menu using East Anglian produce, serving food from brunch, through light lunches and snacks to a full a la carte offering in the evenings.

Using Suffolk produce is something close to Emma’s heart as she seeks to keep the carbon footprint of the restaurant as low as possible.

“We want to be part of the ‘root to fork’ movement,” she says. “That’s all about producing minimal waste to try and help the environment. We are cutting back on plastics where we can, are reducing packaging and using up everything in the kitchen – peelings and bones, for example, can be used to make broth. I think that’s really important.”

Alongside the launch menu, which is currently being drawn up, Emma is working with suppliers to build an interesting drinks list, including local wines and spirits, cocktails and beers you might not find elsewhere in Woodbridge.

“We just want to offer something slightly different. We’ve got some brilliant beers and lagers and actually will have our own brand – Boathouse Bitter – which is quite nice. I can’t wait to show everything off to our customers – the food, the drink...and the interiors. All our interiors and styling and branding have been designed in keeping with the history of the area, combining the old with the new. It’s going to be quite industrial and rustic but contemporary at the same time. It’s so exciting.”


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