In March, I posted a blog with tips for food and wine lovers based on a fantastic “shorthaul for Londoners’” weekend I spent near Whitstable, Kent (see here). Last weekend I headed a similarly short distance north and east of London to Suffolk to spend a weekend away with my folks. Here’s some more hot tips for you!
We stayed at hotel-restaurant The Great House in Lavenham (pictured), whose rooms have enjoyed a thoroughly modern make over since I last visited over ten years ago – shades of chocolate and cappucino, you know what I mean. Anyway, very comfortable and, owned by the very charming Régis and Martine Crépy, for Francophiles like my dad, it’s a little piece of France in Suffolk. In fact, overlooking the town’s cobbled medieval square, I knew it would bring back memories of our very successful jaunt to Sancerre in 2009.
What I hadn’t realised was that The Great House’s wine list has a particularly good Loire selection. With the usual restaurant mark ups, I selected one of the cheaper Loire Sauvignons, a bottle of Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois 2009. Bourgeois’ wines are reliably good from top to bottom and, in this ripe year, Petit Bourgeois was perfect. Loaded with juicy gooseberry fruit, it had sufficient body to handle a very delicious if super-rich starter of cheese fondue with poached egg, as well as my salmon main. And mum and dad loved it because we’d lunched at Bourgeois’ bistro, Mont Damnes, in Chavignol and visited the cellar door in 2009. Cooking was exemplary, in classic French mode of course. My only regret was not having another stomach, so I could navigate the cheese trolley, which groaned under the weight of a score or more perfectly kept artisanal cheeses.
The following evening I’d booked us into The Crown gastropub and (as of 2008) hotel, just 20 minutes drive from Lavenham in Stoke by Nayland. I’ve looked longingly at signs to The Crown when we’ve been Aldeburgh/Southwold-bound (also great food and wine territory), because it’s renowned for its classy and very reasonably priced wine list. And if nothing catches your eye there, for a remarkably chaste mark up, you can select a bottle to have with dinner from the small but perfectly formed glass-encased wine shop (pictured).
The food was good solid fare in hefty portions – I reckon they’d have done better to give me one fishcake not two, with the same amount of fish – a bit too much spud for my liking, though the accompanying curry mayo was very good! Still all was forgiven because, on the wine front, they came up with a cracker in the form of the mineral-charged Olivier Leflaive Rully 1er Cru Vauvry 2007 . Divine and for little more than £25 (it’s £16.95/bottle retail at The Wine Company)! I think we may be back to explore their Sunday night special – £135 for dinner, bed & breakfast for two….