'This is the best Sunday lunch I've eaten in Suffolk'
- Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis
When I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to be taken out to lunch and dinner fairly regularly by my parents.
An absolute treat would be Sunday lunch.
These days any pub worth its salt pins the weekend around that most traditional offering of meat, two veg, potatoes and, if you’re lucky, Yorkshire pudding.
But quality and consistency vary – I've eaten some very ropey Sunday lunches in my time – and it almost feels to me like that sense of occasion has been lost.
Looking back through a child’s eyes, Sunday lunchtimes felt special. I remember dressing up in ‘Sunday Best’. Linen-lined tables. Bread rolls delivered with tongs. Steaming plates of dark-edged meat. It was something to look forward to. And it had to be good, especially if it was to live up to the glory of a home-cooked roast.
Last weekend I recaptured that feeling...at Hintlesham Golf Club.
Everyone knows the village’s stunning pastel-pink hotel. The golf club is a little gem (and separate business) tucked around the corner. Follow Hintlesham Hall’s driveway to the end and you’ll happen upon the rather unassuming club house. It looks just like any other really from the outside. It could be a village hall. A rec room.
- 1 London couple transform Suffolk home into an 'intimate' lifestyle retreat
- 2 What time will the Red Arrows be flying over Suffolk this weekend?
- 3 Forbidden Suffolk: 5 more places you can’t visit in Suffolk
- 4 Revealed: The most popular Suffolk fish and chip shop
- 5 The night Town beat Real Madrid - and why they're still part of elite club
- 6 Driver being taken to hospital after car ends up on roof in field
- 7 Two motorbikes stolen after break-in at Suffolk home
- 8 When will bins be emptied during the Platinum Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend?
- 9 Village suffers power cut for 7 hours after vehicle hits electricity pole
- 10 'Rare' home of former socialite and artist goes up for sale for £1.5m
But step within on a Sunday, and it’s a different story.
Staff are ready and waiting to take your coat, leading you in to the airy, bright, orangery-style dining room overlooking the golf course. Glasses clink and chatter rises over the music. Chandeliers dangle from the pitched ceiling. Tables are draped with freshly-pressed cloths and set with chilled water. Young waiters and waitresses stand to attention, prepared to attend to diners’ needs. A singer’s serenading in the corner.
As soon as we entered it felt like the Sunday service of my childhood.
Throughout the week the restaurant serves breakfasts, bar snacks and afternoon teas, catering to the needs of club members, but it is on Sundays that the kitchen (including new head chef Glen) gets to show what it’s made of.
Settled in our (very comfy) seats, my friend Jo and I were texting our parents to tell them about the restaurant before we’d even eaten. “My folks will like the fact the tables are set so far apart,” she told me.
Drink orders were taken swiftly, and warm bread rolls delivered shortly after. I was glad to see the butter was already on the table – we knew it wasn’t going to be rock solid.
The sign of a good menu begins with its length. At Hintlesham Golf Club there are just a handful of options for each course. Usually an indicator of freshness. It’s traditional. Nothing too ‘out there’. A serene kind of menu that shouldn’t easily offend anyone on your table.
It’s a snip too, at just under £20 for two courses and shy of £25 for three. “That’s cheap isn’t it?” Jo asked me with suspicion. I’d not long ago taken her on a review that didn’t end well, so this was a make-up meal, if you like. “I hope it’s good.”
I crossed my fingers under the table!
And that obviously worked because the first courses were scrummy.
I’d ordered the celeriac, hazelnut and truffle soup. A huge bowl of expertly seasoned, smooth deliciousness, topped with croutons, crushed hazelnuts and a splash of truffle oil to scent each mouthful. Someone dropped off an extra bread roll too. I didn’t really need it but...you never turn down bread do you?
Jo was more than happy with her chicken pakora. Mildly spiced fillets in light as air batter, with homemade curried mayonnaise and slivers of melon and apple. She’s a bit of a wuss when it comes to spice, but raved about her starter. “Yep, definitely bringing my parents here,” she reiterated.
As we finished our plates, the main courses on other tables were doing the rounds and I had to do a double take on the Yorkshire puddings. Enormous. “They’re the size of your head,” I texted my mum...after only one glass of wine. They certainly filled about a quarter of the plate.
I cannot fault any part of the restaurant’s roast sirloin. It truly was one of the best Sunday roasts I have had in a very very long time. The meat was plentiful and tender. Charred at the edges and soft and succulent with a slight blush in the middle. Every roast potato gleamed golden from the plate, with burnished, crusty, crisp outer shells. The vegetables weren’t just boiled to death and slapped on the plate. Carrots had been roasted in herbs and honey, retaining a little bite, and the beans and Savoy cabbage were vibrant, with a hint of garlic.
As for that Yorkshire pudding...hats off to chef. I ate loads in Yorkshire last summer and none could compare to this one.
The plate was brought together with a red wine gravy. Oh, and then there’s the bowl of creamy cauliflower cheese that arrived in its own dish. Large enough to serve as a course in its own right.
On the other side of the table there was a lot ‘phwoaring’ going on as Jo tackled the vegetarian option of a wild mushroom, Stilton and spinach Wellington.
No soggy bottom here. In fact, there was an audible crunch as she sliced her knife through the pastry, releasing a fug of blue cheese steam. A giant mushroom took centre stage, on a bed of spinach with lentils and a cheesy farce, oozing out onto the plate, and into a smoky tomato sauce (also lentil based I think). This came with a few roasties and veg. She was delighted. “I put salt on EVERYTHING,” she exclaimed. “This doesn’t need it, honestly. It’s perfectly seasoned. I love it.”
The portion sizes so far had been more than generous but we couldn’t give up the promise of pudding. I ordered a slice of lemon tart with blackberries and clotted cream. The pastry could have been a little crisper, and a lower temperature in the oven would have yielded a slightly smoother filling, but it tasted great. A ‘pow’ of lemon, with a lining of dark chocolate underneath.
Jo wasn’t in the mood for dessert but ordered the raspberry fool anyway...and was speechless as she spooned the fruity jelly into her gob. Not a cream lover, she was enamoured by the vanilla-scented syllabub-like cream topping. “It’s like a sweet cloud!”
And that’s that. What a brilliant lunch. Classic food cooked by staff who care about the finishing touches and flavour. A front of house team who are genuinely friendly and thoughtful. And an atmosphere and setting that befits dressing up.
Booking is recommended. And live music is laid on once a month. Check the golf club website for further details at hintleshamgolfclub.com