DIY dinner on the menu at renowned Suffolk restaurant
PUBLISHED: 19:45 27 August 2019
Take control of the grill at The Bildeston Crown where a new private dining concept has just been introduced.
There are two reasons why The Bildeston Crown is still so firmly on Suffolk's culinary map. One - the hospitality. Chris and Hayley Lee have managed to strike the perfect balance front of house, welcoming walkers in wellies with dogs into the bar area, but equally being able to offer a special, and relaxed, place to enjoy fine dining without pretence. Two - the food. What Chris' dishes lack in gels, foams, spheres and the like, they more than make up for in strong provenance, and a no-nonsense approach focussed on using classical techniques and a whole lot of love to draw the very best out of every ingredient, from locally sourced meat and game, to freshly picked vegetables and fruit.
The couple's latest feat is in opening up a hidden part of the pub/restaurant/hotel, offering a really rather unique dining concept.
A back room, largely unnoticed and used as an occasional function space, has been transformed into a Champagne bar. The lounge area here feels like Midtown Manhattan meets Sherlock Holmes' study, with decadent colours, squishy sofas, leatherback chairs and a chest packed with games and blankets.
The space is open to use for all guests (unless booked out for an event) and boasts a list of 10 types of Champagne and fizz, from the house Collet in both a Brut and Pink variety, via Bollinger, Tattinger and (at the top) Dom Perignon.
It overlooks the petite walled garden, which is really where the magic happens, because the restaurant is now offering the opportunity to try out something brand new to the Suffolk eating out scene - a DIY barbecue.
To set the scene for you, Hayley and Chris have invested a lot of money in flashy tables complete not only with in-built barbecue grills, but with ice buckets too! From £30 per head for up to 16 diners, simply take your seat and watch as a parade of salads prepared by the kitchen team arrive in front of you - coleslaw, Chris' 'famous' lobster Caesar salad, cous cous, marinated mozzarella and tomatoes, Greek salad - the list goes on. On a separate stand are sweetcorn cobs, vegetable skewers and buttery baby jacket potatoes. And, as a final flourish, find loads of sauces. A very tasty peri peri and coronation-style dip included.
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And now the fun bit. A variety of meats, depending on the package you've chosen, arrives, be it burgers and chicken skewers, steak, or (in season) game. And you're provided with all the tools you need to char everything to perfection yourself, or the chefs can watch the meats for you and serve them onto your plate.
Much like a fondue or raclette, this is a brilliant conversation starter - you might even try to compete to see who can cook their steak the best!
Special diets can be catered for, and the garden will be open through autumn into winter, with an outdoor heater provided (not that you need it - the tables throw out a lot of warmth).
Many forthcoming weekends are already fully booked for the experience, which has to be booked in advance. It could be an out-there alternative to your usual friend/office party as the Christmas celebration season comes around.
Oh, and PS, if it does hammer it down with rain, there is a Plan B, with the chefs cooking your supper over the grill and bringing it to you in one of the other private dining spaces within the restaurant.
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