The best restaurants we reviewed in 2018 - how many have you visited?

The tasting platter starter at Montaz - beautifully presented and a good range of tastes, if a littl

The tasting platter starter at Montaz - beautifully presented and a good range of tastes, if a little small. Picture: MARK HEATH - Credit: Archant

Our reviewers picked some of the best places to eat in Suffolk and North Essex.

Every week we eat out way around Suffolk and north Essex searching for culinary greatness – be it a café that does the best fry-up, to fine dining with flair. Here are some of our top picks from last year. Here’s to 2019!

Flitch of Bacon, Great Dunmow

Our reviewer visited just before this place gained its first Michelin star and found a “superb” menu and “faultless” cooking without any pretention. Stand out plates were Cornish monkfish “what a dish” with salty brown shrimps and buttery potatoes, and the signature Flitch of Bacon – maple glazed bacon, sautéed Orkney scallop, cauliflower three ways and compressed apple.

Montaz, Newmarket

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While it looks unassuming outside, this Indian restaurant more than delivered inside where it was anything but run-of-the-mill. Reportedly one of chef Daniel Clifford’s favourite places to eat, the menu is filled with house specialities, including our reviewer’s beautifully spiced venison with asparagus. The homemade desserts were equally good and range from samosas filled with chocolate to honey and Malteser cheesecake.

Arlingtons, Ipswich

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New ownership of this place has been like a breath of fresh air. The tapas-style menu is filled with local ingredients and takes in flavour combinations from across the world. You can really tell the kitchen team cares. We tried a very interesting salad of chestnuts, roasted squash, seeds and leaves in an unique rosehip dressing, vodka cured salmon, and fabulous Suffolk lamb Kashmiri-style biryani, packed with whole spices.

The Fox, Newbourne

What a great little pub – no wonder it won Best Pub in the Eat Suffolk Food and Drink Awards. From the bustling atmosphere (no mean feat in a village setting) to swift service and incredibly generous portions, this was everything you want a country pub to be. Highlights were a meltingly soft smoked salmon Scotch egg, proper game suet pudding with lashings of gravy, and a burger which was a cut above the rest.

Casa, Bury

Some of the best service we had last year. Really engaging. Great menu knowledge. Nothing too much trouble. Many of the dishes were vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free or could be easily adapted. We swooned over tender squid cooked with chorizo and garlic, smoky baba ganoush crowned with pomegranate seeds, tempura halloumi drizzled with a tart glaze, and a decadent vegan passionfruit and coconut cheesecake.

The Six Bells, Preston St Mary

Our reviewer adored the bucolic setting of this pub, surrounded by excellent walking country. A cut above the rest for a pub, the meal included whole mini loaves of bread with two types of butter (one was filled with pork crackling), a fish soup brimming with fish fillet, octopus and samphire, 35-day aged Longhorn beef charred to perfection, and a delightfully tangy gooseberry custard tart.

Alaz, Sudbury

A relative newcomer to Sudbury we found an honest warmth and generosity of spirit here. Genuine service with a smile. Food cooked over coals right in the restaurant as you watch. Authentic flavours. Recommendations include a dip of walnuts, peppers, pomegranate molasses and feta, and the gavurdagi salatsai salad – simply one of the very best salads we’ve eaten in a restaurant. The bulghur ‘rice’ with vermicelli, toamtoes, bulghur, onions, aubergines and herbs could be a dish in its own right.

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