Lavenham, Suffolk, is one of those Tudor villages that is splashed over tourism websites to show-off how pretty rural Britain really is, and being under two hours away from London, it’s close enough to be a very manageable day trip. In fact, the moment you turn-off the manic M11, there are dozens of quaint villages and towns to pootle through on your way to Lavenham’s Market Place. There, you’ll find the handsome Great House Hotel and Restaurant. Receiving accolades for both sides of the business; this really is a lovely place to visit, in an historic countryside setting.
Cased within a Georgian façade, the 15th century building exposes its wooden beams and pleasing higgledy-piggledy features for diners to admire. Warm front-of-house staff are professional and welcoming for the generally older clientele.
Food wise, the kitchen service French classics made with good quality British produce. The bouillabaisse, perhaps the stand-out dish, is a full ocean of seafood including prawns, sweet mussels, white fish, octopus tentacles and tender calamari. The depth of the Provençal soup is very satisfying, with decent notes of garlic, saffron and fennel, which lift the tomato base.
Tasty too is the beef cheek, which sits astride a pile of hearty spelt barley. The meat separates into ribbons with a mere push of a folk and delivers a bold rich flavour. The Barbary duck breast also fulfills on its earthy irony expectation, which can all too often be a let-down. Though, neither dish is showed-off to its full potential due to the average presentation and a sad attempt of vegetable accompaniments. That said, the quality of the products and the delivery of flavour are more than enough to make up for those faults.
A cheese trolley, crammed with an extensive selection is a wonderful way to finish your meal. Though, a lighter plate of homemade sorbets might be all you can manage after such a generous meal. Either way, the Great House Restaurant offers delightful service in a wonderful surrounding; this should certainly be on your list of future day trips.