Check out this new bakery and tap room in Redgrave
- Credit: Rachel Edge
Sample beers and bread brewed on site at this brand new food and drink destination.
If your idea of food heaven looks like a pint of ale and a Bakewell tart, you could be in luck because Star Wing Brewery has just opened a very unique new proposition on the Suffolk/Norfolk border.
As well as launching its tap room, where customers can try all the beers and grab a bite to eat, Star Wing has taken Norfolk 'character' Mick the Baker under its wing.
Part musician, part trucker, but a cook through and through, 72-year-old Mick Eldridge is a known, quirky face on both the music and food scenes in Norfolk (as well as in his home city of London where the colourful dresser is often stopped for pictures). Not only does he gig all over the county, but he's been the baker at his own tearoom in Garboldisham in the 90s, and most recently was at Hillcrest Nurseries in Stanton for 10 years.
Despite working long hours, skilfully crafting breads and cakes every day, Mick is a bundle of energy and loves talking about everything cake.
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Speaking from his new base at Star Wing, he says: "I've been doing this since I was 15. The only reason I became a baker was because I wanted to be a trucker and you couldn't do that until you were 21!
"I ended up here because Mark the owner had seen me play a few times and knew I was looking for a new place. It worked out well. He likes the same music as me which is a bonus. It looks really good. It's a lovely place and it's been a long time coming because this has been purpose-built how I wanted it. It's proper!"
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Later in the year Mick expects he'll gig at Star Wing, but for now it's the food that takes pride of place. There are no nasty additives or strange ingredients, and everything's made from scratch. It's all what the baker calls good, honest, homely bakes.
"I do things like proper Eccles cakes, and all the old favourites like Cockney cheesecakes, rock cakes, carrot cake, lemon slices, Viennese whirls. I do a few other cakes too. And then I do brown, white and granary breads and sourdough as well." Although Mick's quick to stipulate that while he's been in the trade for around 50 years, he's only just got into slow fermented sourdoughs.
"As time goes by I'll be adding different things every week. Nothing flashy - just what people like. The cakes are doing amazingly well and I make the displays look nice. What I like is that because there's the café here too, people can buy my cakes and sit and have them with a coffee or tea…or beer."
As we talk, Mick is stirring the mix for cheese, onion and potato pasties, pondering what his favourite cakes are.
"Well, my bestsellers are the Eccles cakes, rock cakes and old Cockney cheesecakes."
"You don't find them everywhere. It's puff pastry, strawberry jam, a little lemony sponge then fondant and grated coconut. It makes you laugh because there's no cheese in it at all. The only reason I can think they're called that is because the coconut on top looks like cheese. Once upon a time I couldn't make them because the 'big boy's like Gregg's were buying all the grated coconut so none of us could get hold of it. A couple of years it came back again which is fantastic. Bakewell tarts are another favourite of mine. I make them with a proper almond shortbread base, jam, almond sponge and a cherry on top.
"It's hard work doing what I do, but I love all the people I meet along the way. I love a chatter."
At the other side of the converted barn at Star Wing, the tap room is now offering light food at lunchtime and in the evening, alongside six of the brewery's ales and guest beers (plus all the other drinks you'd find at a good bar). The space is open from 8.30am, Wednesdays to Sundays, serving alcohol from 11am and with space for 35 covers - more for private events and parties.
Adam from the brewery says: "We make all the beer here. Our best bitter, Gospel Oak (3.8%) is our bestseller. It's a really good session beer. We grow our own hops on the farm and while we don't use totally our own yet, that's the end goal. Every year we have a community hop picking event and we're hoping to increase that nine fold so we can hop our own beers but also have excess we can sell. The plan is to be totally self-sufficient within the next few years."
Beers available range from a dry hopped pale ale, up to a porter.
Find the tap room at Unit 6, Hall Farm, Redgrave.