Suffolk pub reopens with exclusive Champagne carvery
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
If the idea of queuing in line at a carvery, plate in hand, praying the person in front doesn’t get the last Yorkshire pudding, sends you reeling...maybe you’ll appreciate the new, more sophisticated approach being offered by one of Suffolk’s best-known chefs.
Chris Lee and wife Hayley, of the award-winning Bildeston Crown, are behind one of the county’s most hotly-anticipated new openings, welcoming customers into the new-look Three Kings in Fornham All Saints from this week.
Here, diners (and drinkers) can expect food prepared in Chris’ inimitable style. From can’t-be-bettered classics, to plates with a little extra je ne sais quoi – all made using prime local ingredients.
The carvery area is expected to be one of the jewels in their crown. Exclusive to pre-booked parties of 6 to 12, there are just three tables in the room, with diners able to enjoy use of the area for their personal time slot, with a set price per person (as yet to be announced).
“Don’t worry, we will have the traditional roast throughout the rest of the pub, but we thought this was a good opportunity to do something a bit different,” says Chris of the carvery. “In each package the diner will have Champagne on arrival, a glass of wine, choice from the cold starters, a main course from the carvery hot plate, and a dessert.
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“So there’ll be cold salads, fish dishes, hors d'oeuvres, some smoked salmon, then a couple of prime joints with Yorkshires, cauliflower cheese, all the trimmings and proper gravy. It offers another level of service. It definitely won’t be your average carvery.”
While it awaits a coat of paint outside courtesy of landlords Greene King, Chris and Hayley have overhauled the interior of The Three Kings, which is quite unrecognisable today.
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“We’ve done a major refurb here,” Chris reveals. “New carpet, new toilets, new blinds, new lighting, kitchen, fridges. Everything is new. We’ve also got bedrooms to do, but they will come in the next phase of work.”
For now, while his ‘baby’, The Bildeston Crown is in the capable hands of the team, including head chef Vicky, Chris will be focussing on wowing diners as he gets behind the stoves of his new pub.
“Menu-wise, I hate to say this phrase, but it’s pub classics with my twist. I take my experience of food and take it up a level. But there’s also going to be some fine dining. And, of course, as well as beer, Hayley’s got a lot of Champagne on the menu – Collet will be our house bottle.”
Crown favourites the chicken or lobster Caesar salad feature, as does the ‘famous’ cheeseburger.
“Then we’ll have lovely nibbles like tandoori monkfish, beef cheeks en croute with celeriac remoulade, and Baron Bigod doughnuts.
“For starters you’ve got shepherd’s pie with smoked potato mash on top. That’s served in a Kilner jar with the potato on top, and is smoked in the kitchen, with the lid coming off at the table. Then there’s moules marinieres, and smoked salmon. Or, if you want to be a bit fancy, Ampton duck consomme with confit leg. We’ve got something for everyone.”
Main courses take well-known pub favourites and spin them on their axis. Fish and chips is beer battered halibut fillet with harissa potatoes. Ham egg and chips sees sliced collar of ham served with braised haricot blanc beans and a pineapple chutney. Steak and kidney pudding is a steak, served with a little kidney pudding on the side.
“Then, dessert-wise, we’ve got a nice little banana tart, a summer berry Eton mess, espresso chocolate fondant, and the herring roes on toast, which people love at the Crown.
“And, of course, British and local cheeses. We’re also working with Louis Beckett who’s doing us some rhubarb and custard, lemon meringue and chocolate and orange bon bons to go with teas and coffees.”
In the days leading up to the opening, Chris says he and Hayley have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of locals. “We’ve had to almost guard the door to stop people coming in while we’ve been getting ready,” the chef laughs.
“But, seriously, the support has been amazing. Lots of people have been asking if they can come in for a drink and want to know when we’re open. There’s so much local interest in what we’re doing and that’s fantastic.”
The pub is 10 minutes from Bury St Edmunds town centre, and a short drive from several decent walks, with the couple very happy to welcome four-legged friends into the bar area.
It’s open for lunch and dinner from Tuesdays to Saturdays and for lunch only on Sundays.