Is Jimmy’s Farm the best restaurant in Suffolk? Bookatable diners think so
- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown
Foodies have voted for their top 10 restaurants in Suffolk with Jimmy’s Farm named the number one choice, followed by The Lighthouse Restaurant at Aldeburgh.
Online restaurant reservation service bookatable ran a poll for members earlier this year and the winners have now been announced.
Jon Gay, head chef at Jimmy’s Farm, hopes the award will help put the restaurant on the food map.
The 25-year-old said: “When I first came here I wanted to put this place on the map for food as well as being a family attraction.”
He said the biggest challenge was catering for two very different types of customers.
“People come into the restaurant for different reasons, we get foodies and we get families with children who have been to the farm park.
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“We sell sandwiches and sausage rolls as well as full meals, and we make sure everything is the best it can be and is made using the best ingredients.”
He continued: “We have six dishes that change daily, and the main menu changes about eight times a year. We like to work with the seasons and the produce that is available locally.
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“Because of where we are based, we can get the best meat from the farm and the gardening team grow fresh herbs, fruit and veg that we also use in the restaurant.
“As a chef it is exciting to have that produce on your doorstep be it pumpkins, courgettes, salad leaves, herbs, wild garlic, tomatoes or fruit.”
He believes these fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are key to their success, and also confessed he enjoyed the challenge of coming up with creative new dishes that showcase these ingredients.
“We had some Mangalista pigs and we used it to make brawn, the flavours were really good. We had some rhubard and custard donuts, they were really good too.”
But what is most popular with his diners?
“The traditional dishes are always the best. We did a rare breed pork Wellington that was very popular, we sold 110 portions in two days. People tend to go for the rare breed meat, and the local cheeses. There are lots of great from Norfolk and Suffolk about at the moment.”
Sharing the glory with his team, Mr Gay said: “It is a team effort, there are probably about 20 to 25 people involved in the restaurant, and a lot of hard work went into getting it up and running before I even started.”
Owner and celebrity farmer Jimmy Doherty believes the awards help highlight Suffolk’s rich culinary delights.
“Suffolk is becoming a food destination. People go on holiday to the West Country because of the food and now they are coming here too.
“We have got great food festivals at Snape, the Suffolk Show has the massive food tent that showcases great food producers and we have got lots of micro breweries in Ipswich as well as having some established names in the brewing industry like Aspalls, Adnams and Greene King.
“East Anglia is the bread basket of the nation and we need to have great restaurants that show that produce off.”
He continued: “What is really important to me is to keep it simple, I have to say I do like sausage and mash with onion gravy. We take simple ingredients and do simple meals really well.”
The Bookatable awards take into consideration a number of factors including number of reviews submitted, star ratings, and review content to determine the final list of winners.
Speaking about the awards, Joe Steele, CEO Bookatable, said: ‘‘It’s clear to see reviews continue to play a vital role in the decision-making process for both restaurants and diners.”
The runner up spot went to The Lighthouse Restaurant, in Aldeburgh, run by husband and wife duo Sam and Maxine Hayes.
Mr Hayes said: “I hope it is the relaxed atmosphere and the decent food that is offered without the airs and graces that impressed our customers.
“Our approach is that when anyone comes through the door, whether we know them or not, we make them feel as welcome as possible.”
He said they prided themselves on the fact they were family-run and had a personal approach, whcih he believes sets them apart from chain restaurants.
• Where do you like to eat out in Suffolk? Is your favourite on the list or do you prefer somewhere different? Vote in our online poll and share your thoughts below.