The 10 best places I ate this year in Suffolk

Pan fried duck with a duck straw, The Swan, Long Melford.

Pan fried duck with a duck straw, The Swan, Long Melford. - Credit: Archant

Food editor Charlotte Smith-Jarvis looks back on a year of reviews and picks her favourites from 2017.

Sea bass and tiger prawn ceviche at Mariners, Ipswich.

Sea bass and tiger prawn ceviche at Mariners, Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Being a food writer I’m privileged enough to eat out rather a lot which is great – although not so much for my ever-expanding waistline. This year I’ve seen the good, the average, the bad and the ugly. After much deliberation, looking back over the past year, I’ve whittled down the ‘good’ to 10 of the best meals I’ve eaten in the past 12 months.

Grain, Colchester

Yes, it’s not in Suffolk, but I couldn’t not include this unassuming casual dining room, run by two especially ambitious chefs. If the A-board isn’t on North Hill it’s a trick to find this place. But once you do, you won’t forget the small-plate experience they offer. Highlights for me were a maple mousse with peanut butter ganache and oaty crumble, and confit duck with roast carrot, cumin and miso.

Sharing platter of smoked mackerel pate, confit duck salad and whisky and treacle cured salmon at Th

Sharing platter of smoked mackerel pate, confit duck salad and whisky and treacle cured salmon at The Greyhound, Pettistree - Credit: Archant

1921, Bury St Edmunds

If you’ve read my review, you’ll know I can’t talk highly enough about this deservedly award-winning restaurant on Angel Hill, where the precision of cooking, and jaw-dropping flavours took my breath away. I didn’t stop going on about the hay smoked monkfish cheeks, vodka cured cod or melting beef fillet for weeks.

Mariners, Ipswich

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One of Suffolk’s most unique restaurants – well, it is found on a boat at Ipswich’s Waterfront. I was stunned by the quality of the food on the seasonal lunchtime menu, which was only £20.95 for three courses. The prawn and sea bass ceviche with mango, slow cooked wild boar with lentils, and yuzu rum baba defied the low price. Presentation was beautiful.

Nana Thai, Bury St Edmunds

Some of the best Thai food my husband and I have eaten anywhere, all made fresh to order and with such care and attention to detail. The Thai green curry was a fiery powerhouse, giving up layer after layer of spices and herbs. And the puffed crispy salt and pepper squid? I don’t think anywhere else I’ve tried can hold a torch to it.

The Barn Café, Hasketon

Yes, a café not a restaurant, but I was so impressed by this cutesy barn that I couldn’t not include it. The menu sings of Suffolk, with local breads, chutneys, cheeses and more making it up on the blackboard. The scones and soup were very well made indeed. And I thought the savoury tea was great value, coming with a massive wedge of Suffolk Gold cheese.

The Greyhound, Pettistree

I’ve heard rumours the couple behind this charming pub are moving back to Scotland. If they are to be believed you’d better get your skates on and try this place out because it was very good indeed. The Scottish chef/patron makes a cracking soda bread. And oh, that treacle and whisky cured salmon!

The Froize Inn, Chillesford

Affable chef/patron David has got the formula for this pub just right. Take a plate, chat to him about the buffet of game, pies and more on offer, take your pick, and serve yourself vegetables and sauces. The heavy crusted deep filled pie here was top notch. And there were over 15 puddings to choose from too. This is real hearty, warming fare, and perfect for winter eating.

The Swan, Long Melford

The kitchen makes everything themselves and the standards are high. My friend Sarah was so impressed she went back the week after out meal with visiting friends in tow to show the place off. We loved the scallop with air dried pork shoulder, the duck with saffron potato, cherries and girolles, and a sherbetty lemon tart.

The Galley, Woodbridge

Owner of this historic restaurant, Ugur, took Best International Dining at our food awards. Every single element tasted here was thoughtfully prepared and rammed with feisty flavours. Courgette and feta fritters with chilli jam were light as air. A Moorish pork chop with polenta and a sweet-sour sauce, had me drooling. And we won’t forget that ‘sexy’ sticky toffee pudding in a hurry.

The Bildeston Crown

Chris and Hayley know how to entertain. Hayley’s serving team are a breath of fresh air. And what Chris and his brigade can do in the kitchen is top class. From producing numerous different bread rolls to start your meal, to crafting heavenly plates of food such as beef fillet with pulled beef croquettes, and deep, dark slices of chocolate tart with homemade ice cream, this place has something to entice all foodies – including me.