Review: Claydon Country House Hotel
- Credit: Archant
Setting: Sitting on the main road in Claydon, and just six miles from Ipswich, the Claydon Country House Hotel, which is privately owned and marketed under the Best Western brand, is a popular hotel for both business guests and visitors exploring Ipswich and its environs.
There is a huge car park for patrons and easy access to the rear of the property, where there is also a small outdoor seating area.
There are two dining areas in the Claydon Court Country House Hotel, a small and intimate restaurant at the front of the property and an adjoining larger room, suitable for functions, adjacent to the bar.
We were delighted to be shown to a window seat in the smaller restaurant by David Lilley, the food and beverage manager, who was also our waiter for the evening. As well as two further tables of diners in our restaurant he was also looking after a party of almost 20 in the adjacent room, yet the service was attentive and relaxed throughout.
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With its dark wooden tables, leather chairs and deep blue carpet, the restaurant had a traditional feel to it, enhanced by candles on every table.
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A quick glance at the menu made it clear that head chef Frankie Manner, who has been with the hotel for 27 years, certainly favours local produce.
The menus are printed each day to reflect what is freshly available and offers three courses for £24.95, two courses for £19.95 or a main for £14.50 per person.
On the evening we visited number two chef Jarek Lisiecki was in charge of the hot plate and delivered freshly prepared and superbly presented meals.
There were four choices for starters, soup, an oak smoked chicken salad, pork and chicken liver pate and smoked haddock fishcakes with a soft poached egg.
On this occasion I chose the freshly made leek and potato soup which was a comforting and tasty dish sprinkled with croutons and served with warm crusty bread.
Across the table the pate, served with toasted bruschetta and red onion chutney, looked a picture and was dotted with fresh tomatoes and green pea shoots.
For the mains there was again a tempting choice of four dishes. While locally-sourced Dedham Vale lamb and Dingley Dell pork were the obvious choice for us carnivores, also on the menu was a pan-seared herb and parmesan crusted salmon and a vegetarian spinach and ricotta tortellini.
I opted for the rump of Dedham Vale lamb which came with fresh herb new potatoes, panache of Suffolk vegetables and a beurre blanc sauce.
I was surprised not to be asked how I could like the lamb cooked but, in the event, it arrived pretty much as I would have asked, slightly pink and very tender. The sauce was smooth and the vegetables cooked to perfection, among them carrots, leeks and green beans.
My dining companion chose the Dingley Dell pork, a roast shoulder steak served with gratin dauphinoise and wild mushrooms in a sage and onion sauce.
Given the generous size of both starter and main we would probably have foregone dessert but decided it was important to experience the whole menu so settled on a compromise and shared a chocolate fondant with white chocolate ice cream, which was heavenly.
The alternatives of blueberry and raspberry panna cotta or profiteroles with vanilla and raspberry panna cotta ice cream also looked tempting. I noted a fellow diner had opted for the cheese selection, served with green grapes, onion chutney and water biscuits.
Fresh filtered coffee or tea, with mints, is available for £2.95 per serving.
The Claydon Country House Hotel has a cosy area surrounding the fully-stocked bar where diners are welcome to enjoy an aperitif before their meals or indeed a night cap afterwards. The wine list offered a good choice of everyday wines as well as a few bottles you might choose for a special occasion.
As with all Best Western hotels the Claydon Country House Hotel is privately owned and is run by a dedicated team under the leadership of operations manager Heather Rowland-Billings.
The menu was carefully considered, offering four good choices for each course reflecting locally produced and seasonally available food.
Mixing corporate clients with leisure guests can be a tricky business, but, on the night we visited the service was seamless. I think this is a hotel that knows its market and serves it well.
At £24.95 per person for three courses, the Claydon Country House Hotel isn’t for everyday dining but makes an interesting choice for locals seeking something other than pub grub and offers guests a more upmarket choice during their stay.
Best Western Claydon Country House Hotel, 16-18 Ipswich Road, Claydon IP6 0AR. Tel: 01473 832476. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.hotelsipswich.com