An Insider’s Guide To Suffolk

Born and raised in Suffolk, Alice Norman cooked at Kricket, Levan and Emilia in London before moving back to the area to launch popular bakery Pinch in Kelsale. There, Alice celebrates Suffolk’s best producers, with signature crullers iced in flavours inspired by the east-coast county – so who better to share their foodie finds and favourite places in the county? From oyster bars and new hotels to walking routes and seafood restaurants by the sea, these are the names and places she goes back to time and again.
By Heather Steele /
KIRSTIN MCKEE/STOCKSY UNITED

SHOPS

FOR HOMEWARES: New Street Market, Woodbridge

New Street Market is a homewares, plants and clothing store in a huge Victoria building. It also has its own restaurant, The Canteen. It’s a perfect quick lunch spot, serving straightforward dishes using local products, such as crab on toast and wild garlic spaghetti.

Visit NewStreetMarket.com

FOR STOCKING THE FRIDGE: Maple Farmshop, Saxmundham

It’s here you’ll find organic fruit and vegetables, as well as other local products such as cheese from Fen Farm Dairy, LA Brewery kombucha (Tropical Ginger is my favourite flavour) and Hodmedod's beans and pulses.

Visit MapleFarmKelsale.co.uk

FOR ANTIQUES: Marlesford Mill, Marlesford

Marlesford Mill is housed in an old grain store that's since been turned into a three-floor antique shop. A great place to pick up a souvenir or well-priced piece of furniture.

Visit AntiquesWebsite.co.uk

FOR MEAT & PROVISIONS: Salter & King, Aldeburgh and Peasenhall

This is my favourite butcher in the county, and it sells incredible local beef from Iken. My favourite product is the streaky Suffolk black bacon, which I use in my honey and bacon pastries at Pinch.

Visit SalterAndKing.co.uk

FOR WINE: Saltpeter Wines, Woodbridge

This is one of the only natural, organic wine shops in Suffolk. It sells everything from champagne to refillable bags of wine, all from really interesting producers.

Visit SaltPeterWines.co.uk

FOR BOOKS: The Aldeburgh Bookshop, Aldeburgh

John and Mary James have been running the Aldeburgh Bookshop for the last 20 years and they're an incredibly important part of the community. You can find just about everything here – ideal if you’re after a holiday read.

Visit AldeburghBookshop.co.uk

FOR GIFTS: Mabel & Co, Thorpeness

Mabel & Co is the most immaculate, beautiful letterpress studio. It sells everything from notepads and personalised stationery to pretty packets of seeds.

Visit MabelAnd.co

RESTAURANTS

FOR OYSTERS: The Butley Oysterage, Orford

This is a no-frills seafood restaurant in Orford. Here’s what to order: local oysters, prawns pil pil and then the skate or dover sole with capers and brown butter.

Visit PinneysOfOrford.co.uk

FOR A LONDON-ON-SEA EXPERIENCE: L’Escargot Sur Mer, Aldeburgh

Soho institution L'Escargot moved here to launch a pop-up during the pandemic and loved it so much, the team decided to stay. It's now undergoing renovations and will open again as a restaurant with rooms, complete with a rooftop and a wine bar. It will be renamed The Suffolk – I can’t wait.

Visit LEscargotSurMer.com

FOR A CHOCOLATE FIX: Pump St Bakery, Orford

Before starting its famous bean-to-bar chocolate brand, Pump St was just a bakery in Orford. Whenever I go, I always order a pain au chocolate or pain au raisin.

Visit PumpStreetChocolate.com

FOR A QUICK, RELAXED LUNCH: Front Room Bungay, Bungay

This spot is just a tiny front room on a narrow street, but it’s filled with fresh pastries and salads and serves delicious Climpson & Sons coffee – all of which are available to take away.

Follow at @FrontRoomBungay

PUBS

FOR PUB GRUB: The Dog, Grundisburgh

 

The Dog isn’t fancy – it’s just a typical countryside pub – but it serves really decent food. As the name suggests, it also hosts local dog walks too.

Visit GrundisburghDog.co.uk

FOR VIEWS: Ramsholt Arms, Woodbridge

This is the perfect spot if you want a pre- or post-lunch walk – and it has beautiful views of the estuary. Keep it simple with the fish and chips or classic burger.

Visit TheRamsholtArms.com

FOR A MID-WALK PITSTOP: The Ship, Dunwich

Another great spot if you like to earn your meal. You can do a long walk from Thorpeness through to Sizewell then Dunwich Heath, which takes you up to The Ship.

Visit ShipAtDunwich.co.uk

HOTELS

FOR FUN GROUPS: Wilderness Reserve, Yoxford

Once a hidden gem and now a favourite of the fashion crowd, Wilderness Reserve is 5,000-acre estate with various sized cottages, farmhouses and renovated barns. You can rent the individual buildings or, if money is no object, the entire estate.

Visit WildernessReserve.com

FOR A SEASIDE STAY: The Swan, Southwold

This affordable hotel has modern, fun bedrooms – think pink four-poster beds – housed inside a seafront brewery that dates back to the 1600s.

Visit TheSwanSouthwold.co.uk

FOR A ROMANTIC WEEKEND: Seckford Hall, Woodbridge

A great place for afternoon tea, this picturesque hotel has a spa and swimming pool, making it a good choice for those looking to relax over a long weekend.

Visit Seckford.co.uk

THINGS TO SEE & DO

FOR A CHEESE FIX: Fen Farm Dairy, Bungay

I imagine it’s possible to call up and organise a quick tour of the farm if you’ve got a group. If not, you can still visit to buy products such as raw milk or its famous Baron Bigod cheese from the nifty vending machines. 

Visit FenFarmDairy.co.uk

FOR CHILDREN: The Meare, Thorpeness

Perfect for little ones, the Meare offers the chance to kayak, punt, row or canoe around the manmade lake, which was built about 100 years ago. It has fun Peter Pan features dotted around the place, which gives it a charming feel.

Visit ThorpenessMeare.com

FOR MUSIC FANS: Snape Maltings

A beautiful heritage site with converted Victorian buildings, Snape Maltings is home to independent shops and galleries, decent places to eat and the world-famous Snape Maltings Concert Hall. The best time to visit is during The Aldeburgh Festival. If you’re into classical music, it draws in some pretty exceptional performers.

Visit SnapeMaltings.co.uk

FOR A GIN TOUR: Fishers Gin Distillery, Aldeburgh

This is a lovely little gin distillery that looks over the shingle beach in Aldeburgh. Its gin is distilled with local botanicals such as samphire. Make sure to book in for a tour.

Visit FishersGin.com

FOR A SCENIC WALK: The Red House, Aldeburgh

I mainly go here to pick mulberries from the ancient tree in the garden, but it's a beautifully quiet spot to relax during the months when Aldeburgh can get really busy. It was once the house of composer Benjamin Britten and his partner, Pears. Now, it's a little museum and you can also lie in the garden and pretend it's yours.

Visit BrittenPearsArts.org

FOR A HOLIDAY FEELING: Ickworth House, North Suffolk

Ickworth House is an Italian villa – in Suffolk. You could spend all day wandering around this beautifully preserved palace.

Visit NationalTrust.org.uk

FOR A HANGOVER CURE: Dunwich Heath, Dunwich 

With all the heather around, it feels like you're in the Highlands of Scotland. The best time to walk across the heath is during the summer. For a cup of tea in a sweet setting looking over the sea, make a beeline for the Coastguard Cottages Tearoom.

Visit NationalTrust.co.uk

 

Pinch, Maple Farm, Kelsale, Suffolk, IP17 2PJ

Visit EatPinch.com

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