Suffolk hotel launching Edible Emporium – with a Champagne caravan, ice cream bike and pizza
- Credit: Archant
On Super Saturday, Ravenwood Hall near Bury St Edmunds will re-open with a very different outdoor offering for customers.
One of Suffolk’s best-loved hotels and wedding venues is bringing a festival vibe to its grounds from July 4, when it re-opens with a melange of fun drinking and dining opportunities.
While its restaurant remains closed (likely until autumn) the team at Ravenwood Hall in Rougham near Bury St Edmunds have pulled together to create the quirky Edible Emporium experience, which will be open throughout the summer from Friday to Sunday.
“We’ve done a total change around and created something really great,” says owner Craig Jarvis. “We’ve brought in wood fired pizza ovens, something called the Big Bertha oven where we’re roasting and smoking meats, and we’ve got a lovely vintage ice cream bicycle. Everything we’ll be producing and using is local –and we’re even setting up a shop selling local produce.”
“Basically you can order online or on site, arrive and sit outside. We’ve put out loads of covers with fire pits - it’s quite pretty – and we have a big marquee which our local village association in Beyton lent us – that’s a really nice bit of community spirit.”
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All food can be eaten on site or taken away and is made from scratch. Pizzas (vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available) are made to order with the hotel’s own dough and passata, while Craig says: “The smoke shack team have their own special cure for the ham hock and it’s smoked and roasted slowly for about eight hours for a lovely flavour. The ribs are dry rubbed with spices and slow roasted, and the chicken is marinated with garlic and herbs. We’ve got a selection of salads people can order as sides.”
Ice cream is from award-winning Hadleys, with Craig having snapped up owner Jane’s cute ice cream bicycle for service. “Ice cream is included in the price of each main course – you can have that in a tub or a cone.
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“And we’ve set up lots of drinking spaces as well. There’s a Champagne area with a Verve Clicquot caravan, and we have an Adnams beer drinking area with local beer from Adnams and Cannon Street in Bury. I think a lot of people are going to want to come out and have a nice pint or a glass of wine.”
The hotel’s ‘shop’ will evolve as the weeks progress, being stocked with their own smoked meat and fish, Maynards apple juice (produced a mile up the road), Cannon Street beers and fresh strawberries. “We’re also inviting people who have allotments to come and sell their surplus produce.”
Full social distancing and safety measures have been put in place for customers, with plenty of outdoor covered and uncovered seating, a one-way system at the bar, staff wearing masks and gloves, and regular cleaning being performed before, during and after opening hours.
Craig says there’ll be minimal interaction with staff. “We’ve made the whole thing a very safe environment and I honestly feel people will be happier outside than going into a restaurant at the moment. People will be very wary. What we’ve done is allowed a good distance between tables outside for al fresco eating. This is a big change for us. We’ve always been quite a formal establishment, but taking a more casual approach now, I think it’s the way forward for us. My aim was always to create a lifestyle image and this is a part of that. Eventually I’d like to build a café, have our own micro-brewery, a cinema. A farmers’ market will be the next thing though.
“It’s great to be able to reopen. It was very said to have been closed for three months but the opening gives us a chance to breathe new life into our business.”
The Edible Emporium is open from 5pm to 9pm Fridays, 11am to 9pm Saturdays and 11am to 5pm Sundays.
On the menu
Whole smoked ham hock with maple and wholegrain mustard glaze
Suffolk half roast chicken with garlic butter and thyme
Baby back ribs with sticky barbecue sauce
Red Poll beef burger
Pizzas - from The Naturalist’s (a margherita) to The Carnivore with pancetta, Napoli salami, ground beef, smoked garlic, slow roast tomatoes and fresh sage
Vegetable cous cous