Staff jumping for joy as Stanton’s Leaping Hare named best restaurant in East Anglia

The Leaping Hare at Wyken Vinyard has been named as the Good Food Guides Readers East of England Res

The Leaping Hare at Wyken Vinyard has been named as the Good Food Guides Readers East of England Restaurant of the Year for the second time in three years. L-R: Francis Guildea, Carys Jones, Jess Forbes, Matt Wakeham and chef Simon Woodrow are pictured. - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk restaurant has won the Good Food Guide’s best in East Anglia award.

The Leaping Hare, in Stanton, is the regional winner of the Good Food Guide’s Restaurant of the Year Awards 2015.

The Hare’s manager, Francis Guildea, said winning was a “huge boost” to the staff, as they are nominated for the award by their own customers.

Mr Guildea said: “In many ways this award means a lot more to us and the staff here than others we have picked up.

“It is our own customers who are choosing to write in and nominate us after eating here – that makes it particularly special.

“It is a huge boost and a real motivator for the staff because their work is being recognised and praised by real customers.”

He said earning the prize was not just down to the food. “We have a close-knit team here who work very well together,” he said.

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“The turnover of staff is very low compared to other restaurants, meaning customers get to know our faces, creating a home-from-home feel.”

The establishment, which last won the award in 2013, was up against some of the region’s best-known restaurants.

Mr Guildea explained why he thinks The Hare stood out from the rest. “We make a real effort to ensure as much of our food as possible is locally sourced,” he said.

“I know most places these days claim to be, but often that means a local supplier, not locally produced. A lot is grown on the estate [Wyken] and we seek out producers as local as we can, but never at the expense of quality.”

The Good Food Guide, published by Waitrose, asked for customers to nominate their favourite local eatery in March.

Elizabeth Carter, Good Food Guide editor, said: “This award is a celebration of small, independent restaurants that specialise in amazing-quality food. [The Leaping Hare] is a lovely experience and a real charmer to boot. This is thanks to an impressively timbered 400-year-old barn conversion, and ever-courteous staff, not to mention the prospect of some delicious food often made with home or locally sourced produce.”

Carla Carlisle, of Wyken Estate, said when they created the restaurant 24 years ago, many doubted it would work, adding: “It makes the journey feel worthwhile. It is a terrific gift from our loyal customers – it just feels great.”

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