Our food reviewer and writer Mark Heath catches up with Suffolk Masterchef star Hannah Gregory in his column for May...

Hello, friends. I hope April was good to you and you've been out and about eating well.

I thought this month we'd catch up with a familiar face on the Suffolk food scene as she grafts on an exciting new project which we should all get behind.

READ MORE: My review of buzzing new restaurant Blue Fig in Bury St Edmunds

Hannah Gregory, Bury St Edmunds-based star of Masterchef, taco enthusiast and top notch private chef, is set to open her first restaurant, TACOR, in the town this summer.

The taqueria will be launched next month (hopefully) in what was the Pizza Shed space behind The Beerhouse on Tayfen Road, just down the hill from the train station.

Now, I'm reliably informed that opening a restaurant is one of the most stressful things one could ever do and I, like many others, have been eagerly following Hannah's progress on Instagram - @tacor_taqueria and @wandersups - as she and partner Jon build her dream.

Part one of the journey was raising cash to fund the project, with more than £26,000 pledged via Kickstarter, while part two now sees Hannah hard at work creating her vision.

East Anglian Daily Times: A look at Hannah's vision for TACORA look at Hannah's vision for TACOR (Image: Hannah Gregory)
She told me: "Two months after the success of the Kickstarter and the refurb and build is well underway.

"My partner and I are doing all the work ourselves so we are currently having 'project meetings' before our day jobs then meeting at TACOR after work to crack on.

"We haven’t slept very much but it is well worth it and the space is slowly transforming.

READ MORE: My review of the Bildeston Crown - the best meal we've had in 2024 so far

"The dream was always to create a rustic, intimate space and I think we are well on the way to achieving that.

"There is a counter bar offering six seats for those wanting to watch the open kitchen work in all its glory - let's hope for glory! - and an additional counter bar within the restaurant space, as well as a communal table meaning we can offer 18 covers at any one time.

"Plus there's all the seating within the pub and terrace which TACOR customers are invited to use as long as they buy drinks from the pub."

East Anglian Daily Times: TACOR is taking shape!TACOR is taking shape! (Image: Hannah Gregory)
Hannah is using Suffolk suppliers as much as possible - which, of course, is also to be applauded.

She explained: "All the wood used throughout the space is reclaimed from local salvage yards, feature details made from Suffolk Red bricks are going in soon, as well as a hand-painted mural.

READ MORE: An underwhelming trip to multi award-winning pub The Unruly Pig 

"I am so proud of what we are creating, especially as the majority of the materials are Suffolk through and through - maybe not the cacti or the Balinese lampshades – and I hope everyone loves it as much as I do."

As you'd expect, it's been quite the journey so far.

"There have of course been huge learnings and minor setbacks," Hannah told me.  

"Due to the kitchen being so small I am having bespoke units made and the fabrication got delayed which was a little annoying but now looking it as an opportunity to focus on the details whilst  I wait.

"We also had to lose a couple of seats - thanks fire regs - and replace the floor which wasn’t budgeted but we’re getting there!

"If I’m not painting, sanding or bossing Jon around I am working on the menu which is looking tasty and working on getting all the Kickstarter pledges of merch fulfilled, for which I have been working with a local designer.

"It’s all coming together and if everything goes to plan we are looking at a mid-June opening."

East Anglian Daily Times: The space at TACOR - hopefully opening in mid-June! The space at TACOR - hopefully opening in mid-June! (Image: Hannah Gregory)
Having eaten Hannah's excellent food a few times, I'm massively excited about TACOR - something genuinely new, fresh and brilliant for Bury, and Suffolk as a whole.

I can't wait to see it open, pull up a pew and grab some tacos. I'll keep you updated!

East Anglian Daily Times: Peck in Bury was recommended to me many times in my search for Suffolk's best value eatsPeck in Bury was recommended to me many times in my search for Suffolk's best value eats (Image: Peck, via Instagram)
- My April column saw me launch a search for the best cheaper eats in Suffolk - a single dish for less than a tenner or a meal for two for £40 or less.

My old man tells me that calling food 'cheaper eats' suggests lesser quality, and I can see his point - that's certainly not my intention, so let's call it 'best value eats' from here on in.

Anyway, I asked for recommendations and duly got plenty - thanks for getting involved if you did - with the same two locations coming up time and time again.

East Anglian Daily Times: Wok Wraps also featured heavily in my search for Suffolk's best value eatsWok Wraps also featured heavily in my search for Suffolk's best value eats (Image: Wok Wraps)
They were chicken kings Peck, in Bury, and that celebration of all things food Beach Street, in Felixstowe - with Wok Wraps getting particular support.

This means, of course, that I'm going to have to visit both now and tell you what I think. It's a tough job....

East Anglian Daily Times: We visited the Trowel & Hammer in Cotton last week - just a few days before the pub and Sweeney's parted waysWe visited the Trowel & Hammer in Cotton last week - just a few days before the pub and Sweeney's parted ways (Image: Mark Heath)
- Finally this month, it was interesting to see the news out of newly re-opened/relaunched mid-Suffolk pub The Trowel & Hammer in Cotton last week.

The pub, bought and saved from becoming homes by Freddy Vaudrey, had been offering food through Craig Sweeney and his Sweeney's Pizza and Grill.

But, after just six weeks of trading, they've decided to end that partnership, with the pub taking food service in-house.

A statement said: "As you will be aware Sweeney's Pizza and Grill and The Trowel and Hammer have been working successfully together over our first month or so of trading.

"Due to some exciting new projects we have now decided to continue trading separately and Sweeney's Pizza and Grill will no longer be operating from the Trowel and Hammer."

Coincidently, we visited the pub last week - and weren't massively impressed. It was an odd experience, having to order drinks separately to your food at the bar and thus ending up with two bills.

East Anglian Daily Times: Our pizza at The Trowel and Hammer - great dough, but very greasyOur pizza at The Trowel and Hammer - great dough, but very greasy (Image: Liz Heath)
The food was underwhelming too, I'm afraid. Craig's pizza dough is clearly top tier, but our pie was dripping in oil and grease to the extent that we had to ask for extra napkins to soak it up.

It will be fascinating to see where both go from here after this parting of ways.

As a building, the pub has great potential - but they have to get the food offering and service right if it's going to be successful. Hopefully they will. 

- Want to talk food with me, send me recommendations or feature in this column? Email me at mark.heath@newsquest.co.uk.