Suffolk’s hottest new place for brunch
- Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis
When award-winning chef Justin Kett and wife Kairi flung open the doors to Fork Kitchen & Deli in Hadleigh in November 2020, little did they know, just two days later, the country would be plunged back into lockdown.
It was undoubtably tough. Setting out their stall with a brand-new concept, a brand-new business, only to have such uncertainty paved in front of them.
Fast-forward to the now though, and the couple’s enterprise is thriving. Walk past on any given day, and the enticing aromas of freshly baked Scotch eggs, cakes, preserves, sauces and pickles wafts from the door, as the industrious team of chefs in the open kitchen prepare products to fill the counters and shelves.
And now, you’ll also spot tables and chairs, as Fork moves into what Justin calls phase two. It’s time, he says, to up the ante.
Every day from 8.30am (soon to be earlier) Fork is now open with an all-day menu of breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes which show off the best of Suffolk, and demonstrate the deliciousness of many of the items you can buy in the shop.
It’s been a long time coming says Justin.
“The lockdown period was strange. At the time we made sure the shop was spaced out because everyone, quite rightly, was fearful and being respectful of one another. We were limited with what we could do, and weren’t able to open our private dining space or masterclasses until last March.
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“This February it was time to look at what we do again. We moved all our produce across to one side, put six tables inside, got a license for four tables outside, and since then we haven’t looked back. It’s been fantastic.”
The new dining area at Fork surely offers one of the best vantage points in the town for people-watching, through the huge shopfront window.
It’s already fast gaining regulars. And Justin and Kairi say everyone’s welcome, whether they want to watch the world go by with a coffee and slice of cake or pastry from the counter, or enjoy a more substantial dish with a glass of wine.
“Our coffee is from Paddy and Scott’s. We use different beans to what they have in their shops though. We want to be a little bit different, and we’re experimenting with coffees of the week and coffees of the month.”
If you’re just a bit peckish, select one of Fork’s ever-popular often sell-out Scotch eggs or sausage rolls with your drink. “People have also been loving our Bakewell tart, that’s been selling so well, and our cookies and flapjacks and brownies. We just tried out cheesejacks too, with pumpkin seeds. We sell so much cake!”
The main menu changes every few weeks and “you can have a bacon roll at 3pm or 9am, it’s really up to you,” says Justin, adding that they’re as flexible as they can be. If you can’t see what you fancy on the menu, just ask, if they can make it, they will.
“One of my favourite things on the menu is the rarebit – you don’t see that a lot these days. It’s got Pinney’s smoked haddock, Mr Bees beer, Suffolk Gold and red Leicester cheese, and sourdough from Harvey & Co. It’s pretty much an all-Suffolk dish.
“At the moment we’ve also got asparagus from our egg supplier down the road, with his eggs, finished with a little Pecorino and rapeseed. That’s just perfect.
“Another dish I like is beans, cooked in a tomato sauce, and then chorizo sliced with shallots and parsley, cooked down together and finished with barbecue sauce. We put a fried duck egg on top, then a caper and gherkin olive oil dressing. It’s really really nice. We don’t add any chilli to it, all the spice comes from slowly cooking the chorizo down.
“We just really wanted to offer something a bit unique. And I think we are doing that.”
Other dishes include Fork granola with cherry compote and mint yoghurt, Pinney’s smoked salmon with scrambled egg and lemon oil, Fork funghi with garlic sourdough and raclette cheese, and a meat and cheese selection with summer tomato salad, chutney and their own lavosh bread.
“That’s off the chart,” Justin says of the lavosh. “People can’t get enough of it. We almost can’t keep up with making it!”
To help out with service both in the café area and for private functions, the couple have brought on Harry Hobson-Barnes who, Justin says, customers love.
What’s next for phase two of Fork?
“We definitely want to do pop-up evenings,” Justin adds. “It’s just fitting them in around the private functions we have on our diary. I see us doing things like chef’s table evenings where people can see the dishes being cooked and plated in front of them.
“And maybe we’ll do some evenings like Fork in France, or Fork in Italy. I’ve got two really highly skilled chefs and I want to show off what they can do as well, and get them talking with customers and engaging with them.”
Fork’s series of masterclasses for 2022 is already well under way – some selling out in less than half an hour.
Coming up later in the year are Fruits of Suffolk Summer (August 4), Preserving and Jamming (August 25), Italy (September 29) and Suffolk Game (October 27).
“They’re a lot of fun,” says Justin. “We seat 14 theatre-style upstairs. Once people arrive we have coffee and cake and a bit of a chat, then we give them a pack with all the dishes we’re going to make – that's anything from five to eight depending on the theme.
“Then I start cooking everything in front of them. It’s all made from scratch – there's no Blue Peter ‘here’s one I made earlier moments’. They get to try all the dishes I make, and afterwards the group sits down for a two-course lunch with a glass of wine.
“It’s amazing. Some people know each other, some don’t, but bonds and relationships form around the table which is just brilliant.”
How does it feel to be where they are now, compared to just over a year ago?
“It’s amazing,” says Kairi. “Every time we’re busy I smile. I love being busy, and it’s a different feeling when it’s your own place.”
“It’s so gratifying knowing we’re getting it right too,” adds Justin. “This has been tough work, but it’s absolutely been worth it. The last few weeks have just made me feel ‘yes, we’re good at what we do’ and we’re trying to focus on that.”
Fork is open Monday to Saturday and tables are on a first-come first-served basis. To find out more about private dining or masterclasses go to hadleighfork.co.uk