The restaurant at Fynn Valley has changed beyond recognition
PUBLISHED: 19:00 09 July 2019
Family Fridays with pizza and outdoor games are part of the golf destination's new food offering.
It's fair to say the restaurant and clubhouse at Fynn Valley has looked a bit sorry for itself in recent years…but have you seen its transformation?
The family behind the resort, just north of Ipswich town centre, have done wonders, creating a bright new space everyone can enjoy - golfer or not.
Working with Beechlake Developments, the old buildings have been ripped down to make way for a gated residential community, with a glorious new café/bar/events space/clubhouse springing up on the grounds, offering panoramic views, 24 hour access changing and showering facilities, great local coffee, locally sourced beers, wines and spirits, and homemade food.
"This was nothing," reveals director Jenny Holmes of the land Fynn Valley Café Terrace sits on. "It was just my horse paddock when I was a teenager and then the croquet lawns, so we've really started from scratch. Much as we loved our old buildings we looked at how much we'd have to invest in them, and the layout, and how labour intensive they were to run, and worked out we'd be better off taking that money and doing something new, completely designed for purpose. We're very much more focussed on aligning ourselves as a destination - a café and golf club with beautiful events. I've already had feedback from a lot of people who say this is just what Ipswich has been looking for - somewhere lovely but unpretentious. And we're only five minutes from the town centre!"
Fynn Valley Café Terrace has many weddings in the pipeline over the coming months in its sparkly new events suite (complete with built in sound system and colour changing recessed lighting) and couples, families, ladies that lunch, golfers, retirees and more are taking advantage of the sunny new café - be it for a cup of Paddy and Scott coffee and a slice of cake before tee-off, or a post school drop-off catch-up.
Spacious, accessible, flooded with natural light and constructed with oak beams, the café has a soft, neutral colour palette - no bright shades or offbeat modern furnishings to detract the eye from the star player of the venue - its view over the terrace to the grounds. There's comfortable seating, plenty of room to move about between tables, and even a set of sofas by the fireplace, with blankets provided for chilly evenings.
"We really wanted the building to sit sympathetically in its landscape," says Jenny. "It's modern, but even in the depths of winter you still feel in touch with the outside."
Lots of thought's been put into the menu, with almost everything being prepared on site - "You won't see a Brakes van in my car park!"
You're more likely to catch the latest delivery from Anglia Produce, or respected local butcher Cleveleys…or to spy the kitchen team popping out into the garden to pluck fresh herbs from the beds for their dishes. A new head chef has just joined them, with some changes coming to the current menu by the end of July, including the addition of smaller, starter-sized plates for guests to share, and with more vegetarian and vegan, lighter options on the way.
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At the counter (where you can grab a pint of the golf club's own beer, brewed by Greene King, cocktails, fine wines from Mr Wheeler, and a vast range of spirits) are daily made paninis, sandwiches, sausage rolls, cakes and scones, which can be eaten in or taken away to nibble on while out on the 18 hole or 9 hole courses.
Otherwise, food is a sit-down affair, starting with hearty breakfasts, or brunch from Monday to Saturday. There's the ubiquitous full English (a veggie version is available) complete with bacon, sausage, black pudding, ham hock beans, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes and toast, as well as house specialities - from roasted field mushroom with spinach and halloumi, poached egg, hollandaise and Parmesan crumb, to smashed avocado on toast, and diced pork belly with black pudding, caramelised onion and butter fried eggs.
"Our most popular lunchtime dishes, which will stay on the menu are our lovely homemade beef burger and our Caesar salad," says Jenny, "they do really well." Currently there's also grilled or battered haddock with hand cut chips and trimmings, a homemade tart, daily changing specials (think pan-fried seabass with chickpea and fine bean salad) and more.
Desserts (cake, double chocolate cookie dough, clotted cream Eton mess, ice cream) are kept simple to enable a good flow of service and to keep waiting times down.
Families really are at the heart of the new development. Jenny has two children of her own, and was keen to ensure the café had an unstuffy, welcoming atmosphere and plenty to keep youngsters occupied - which led to the creation of Fridays at Fynn.
"We're really excited about this. From 5pm to 9pm on Fridays we serve pizza from our outdoor wood-fired pizza oven. The chefs make all the dough on the day from scratch and you simply go up to the counter and place your order. This year we're doing this in conjunction with Bay Tree Pizza. They've been really helpful."
The menu includes garlic bread, a classic plain mozzarella and tomato, Di Parma with Parma ham, cherry tomatoes and fresh oregano, and the Vesuvio, with Kalamata olives, spicy salami, roasted peppers, chilli oil and basil. You can build your own pizza too, and child-sized portions are available (as is luxurious Movenpick ice cream).
"We've got lots of games outside for children - giant Jenga, quoits, and little golf sets so they can have a go on the putting green. Another really great thing is the terrace faces our 9 hole course where we have footgolf. As long as parents are happy, children can go and do that unaccompanied, so the adults can sit, have a drink and watch their kids go around."