As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Dedham Vale, Paul Bloomfield picks out a selection of restaurants, cafés, inns and farm shops for local food and drink in this glorious Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in southeast England.
Whether it’s locally reared pork, freshly caught oysters, or fruit and vegetables grown and picked from the neighbouring fields that gets your taste buds going, you’ll find an abundance of delicious, local, quality food here in Dedham Vale.
Much of the area has been farmed for hundreds of years, and locals take great pride in showcasing the very best of their food and drink, including some household names like Copella apple juice and Tiptree jam.
We’ve selected the best cafés, inns, farmers' markets and delicatessens in the area, including award-winning gastro pubs and family-run farm shops. Wherever you choose to eat or shop, you can be sure that you’ll be putting something back into the local area, reducing your food miles, and discovering some truly special produce, all at the same time!
With its stylish décor and friendly staff, Milsoms is the perfect spot for a relaxed coffee, lunch or celebratory dinner. The menu reflects what’s available locally, whether it’s Suffolk pork schnitzel and Dedham Vale steak, and they use organic produce wherever possible. The two-tiered restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating options, but the ‘sail’ covered terrace, with its glorious garden setting and 160 year old Sequoia tree, might just have the edge as the perfect place to unwind with a glass of wine. milsomhotels.com
The Crown Inn, in the charming village of Stoke by Nayland, serves up delicious home cooked food from a constantly changing menu that reflects the changing seasons. There’s lamb from the Colne Valley, oysters from the Blackwater Estuary, free range Gloucester Old Spot pork from John Coleman and local potatoes by the sackful from the Schwier family. Tuck in to a traditional Sunday roast, or just relax by the bar with a pint of real ale or glass of wine from their varied selection of new and rare wines. The Crown prides itself on having a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and you may find yourself enjoying the food and ambience so much you’ll want to book yourself in to one of their 11 stylish bedrooms to prolong the Crown Inn experience a little bit longer. crowninn.net
The Angel Inn
With its traditional country pub atmosphere, open fires and oak beams, this Grade II listed building retains the feeling of old coaching inn combined with stylish modern touches and a menu that’s bang up-to-date. Head Chef Adam changes his selection of dishes to reflect what’s available locally, and you could be trying freshly caught sea trout one week and roast Suffolk beef the next, accompanied with locally grown vegetables and washed down with a pint of guest ale from one of the regional breweries. angelinnsuffolk.co.uk
The Anchor Inn
If you’d been sitting on the river bank here in the 1900s, you might have witnessed a ‘tub and shovel’ race where competitors, balancing on a half barrel, raced their way across using a shovel as a paddle. These days, you’re more likely to be sat amongst fellow diners, enjoying a meal on the outdoor terrace of The Anchor Inn and watching swans float by. Take your pick from their daily menu of seasonal dishes that reflect the best available produce of the region, from farmhouse sausages to Suffolk cheeses and the Anchor Inn’s famous smoked platter with a range of locally sourced meats, fish and cheeses that are all smoked in-house. There is also an extensive wine list and choice of regional ales, including the Inn’s own ‘Anchor Ale’ which is brewed in nearby Hadleigh. anchornayland.co.uk
The Edwardstone White Horse Inn
Created mostly using ingredients grown on site, the dishes served here are as local and organic as it gets and even cooked on eco friendly induction hobs. The owners grow as produce as much as they can in the kitchen garden and use local butchers for all their meat. Next door is the White Horse micro brewery, which produces their very own brand of Suffolk ale and is a huge hit with real ale enthusiasts. It’s easy to see why the pub has been featured in so many guides including the Good Beer Guide and as CAMRA’s ‘Pub of the month’. The pub’s pretty, rural location means it is easily reached via the many footpaths and cycle routes in the area, and it acts as the main social hub of the village hosting live music nights and beer festivals. edwardstonewhitehorse.co.uk
National Trust tearoom, Flatford
The National Trust is almost synonymous with cream teas, but the tea room at Flatford now offers so much more than just scones and jam, delicious though they are. With new Catering Manager Russell Clement at the helm, there are big plans for the menu here in response to the public’s increased interest in where their ingredients come form. The nearby 16th century Valley Farm already supplies fresh vegetables and herbs from its fully restored kitchen garden for sandwiches and salads, and local honey and preserves are served alongside delicious homemade cakes. Russell hopes to soon add smoked fish and meat from smokeries just down the road, and to keep developing a seasonal menu that is quintessentially East Anglian. nationaltrust.org.uk/flatford
Lower Dairy Farm Shop
Lower Dairy Farm has been run by the Taylor family since the 1950’s, and in the 1980’s they started producing tasty, 28 day aged beef from their own, grass fed, Hereford Aberdeen Angus herd. The beef is available in their farm shop alongside their free range pork sausages, seasonal home grown fruit and vegetables, all sorts of jams and preserves and even ice cream. There are also freshly laid eggs from the farm hens and if you want to explore a little further, you can go and meet the farm’s menagerie of animals including new born calves, piglets, deer, and Humbug the dog. lowerdairyfarm.co.uk
Hall Farm Shop
This award winning farm shop is stocked with all kinds of delicious produce from the farm itself and nearby suppliers, including cakes baked on site and home reared beef and lamb. Hall Farm has been run by the same family for three generations, and they decided to open the farm shop in 2001 following huge demand from locals for high quality, local produce. The deli and cheese counter are also worth a visit, especially if you’re shopping for a picnic or packed lunch, to stock up on fabulous homemade sausage rolls, pies, filled baguettes and cheeses. Following the shop’s success, a café and restaurant followed in 2006 which is housed in the converted old cattle byre. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a morning coffee or afternoon cake on the terrace, overlooking the fields where the farm’s ponies, cattle and sheep graze. hallfarmshop.co.uk
For information on places to stay, nearby visitor attractions and activities, see our