Try the latest Beaujolais release and French cuisine at The Marquis

Veal chop dish Picture: Archant

Veal chop dish Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

Restaurant near Hadleigh celebrates the release of Beaujolais Nouveau.

The halloumi and cous cous dish Picture: Archant

The halloumi and cous cous dish Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A bicycle sits at the entrance, slanted at a jaunty angle and filled with baguettes. French flags and bunting hang.

Staff bustle about in striped shirts and berets. An accordionist transforms diners with his melodic take on classic French and popular hits.

These were all the fun little touches the team at The Marquis in Layham brought to the restaurant and boutique hotel on Thursday (November 15) evening in celebration of Beaujolais Nouveau Day.

While red wine is most often considered best when left to lay and mature, Beaujolais is an exception to that rule. French law dictates the new vintage must not be released before 12.01am on November 15, and connoisseurs know this wine is at its finest drunk young and fresh, consumed before May the following year.

The cheeseboard Picture: Archant

The cheeseboard Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

It’s a national occasion celebrated with aplomb on the continent and in the 70s in particular restaurants from across the UK and Europe would be gripped by Beaujolais Nouveau frenzy in November, setting off to France get their mitts on the newly ready bottles.

This year for the first time ever a team of ladies from The Marquis in Layham near Hadleigh jumped in a van to revive the tradition, heading for Chateau de Belleverne, an award-winning vineyard in La Chapelle de la Guinchay, where they would collect five wines (including the 2018 Beaujolais Nouveau), bringing them back to the restaurant to be paired with head chef Tom’s menu of 12 regionally-inspired French dishes.

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Available throughout this weekend, we had the opportunity to try some of the dishes.

A starter of boudin blanc (a speciality of the Champagne region) was delicate in its seasoning and made with the lightest of touches, giving a yielding, soft texture and a subtle flavour which worked very well indeed with a dusting of truffle and spoon of apple puree.

My vegetarian companion was wowed by her main course of spiced halloumi with cous cous and sweet nuggets of apricots.

And my main course of breadcrumbed veal chop (which was enormous) with violet potatoes and a creamy sauce was simply excellent and cooked to utter perfection.

Desserts included a red wine poached pear with rich chocolate sauce and a superb prune and Armagnac tart with crème Anglaise. But don’t right off the cheeseboard as a dessert option. Served in theatrical fashion from a trolley wheeled to your table, your plate includes six pungent, runny, melting, oozing French cheeses, fresh fruit, celery, crackers, homemade chutney, truffle honey, quince paste and mustard fruits. One of the best cheeseboards in Suffolk – and perfect with another glass of Beaujolais.

Bookings are still being taken but the special menu will only run until Sunday.

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