Restaurant review, The Froize Inn, Chillesford: “Do not miss out on the deep filled pies here”
PUBLISHED: 19:22 20 September 2017
Huge thanks to reader Tony Martin, who called in and insisted I try out this bucolic Suffolk inn.
I visited with my family in tow at the weekend was utterly blown away by the quality of the food and service.
So let’s start with the food, which is served up from the hotplate by chef/patron David in his own inimitable style.
The ‘buffet’ (although I hesitate to use this term) was laden with slow food. Braises, stews, roasts cooked on the bone, pies. The best part? You don’t have to wait for your meal. Pick your main course from David, then pile up on vegetables and other goodies and you’re on your way to foodie heaven.
The children got stuck into a falling-off-the-bone lamb shank with trimmings and golden herby crumbed chicken breast, and claimed it was the best Sunday lunch they’ve ever had.
I have a rule that I have to order guinea fowl whenever I see it on a menu, so when I spotted the bird, rolled in bacon and simmering at the hot plate in its own jus, I couldn’t resist.
It was melt-in-the-mouth, juicy and very generous in size – that was one well-fed bird. The sausagemeat stuffing inside didn’t compete too heavily with the gamey flavour of the guinea fowl, and the bacon was meltingly soft. I was impressed by the sides too – especially the roasties and braised red cabbage.
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Hubby was practically eating his venison and mushroom pie before he’d sat down at the table. This was no delicate little individual pie. It was cut from a great big dish, all thick buttery shortcrust and lashings of filling. Tender and savoury, with a tang of sweetness, it was the kind of thing you dream of after a bracing, rainy walk.
We were so sated by our main courses we could easily have fallen asleep at the table – and that’s no joke.
But we ploughed on, taking a while to pick from the 15 homemade desserts listed.
Sunken chocolate pudding was velvety and dark, with a lightness to the crumb. And the thick, almost ganache-like sauce that came with this and the profiteroles was gorgeous.
My sticky toffee pudding looked like a slice of cake, but had that dense, toffee-fudgy pudding texture and was anything but sweet. The sucrose tang came from the butterscotch sauce which was excellent.
Also tried was vanilla cheesecake with mulled red fruits. A beast of a slice, with a deep biscuit crumb base, fluffy topping and mellow fruity accompaniment. All the puds were like big fat hugs of joy.
As far as proper, rustic, hearty pub food goes, this place sets the bar.
I had a small glass of Riesling from Mosel, which was well priced at £3.50. Almost effervescent, it was a zippy, off-dry little fruity number that was fantastic with the guinea fowl.
Jarv had a pint of Adnams’ excellent Dry Hopped Lager – a perfect match for the venison pie.
The kids stuck to water but I thought there was a great selection of non-alcoholic options they would have liked, including Breckland Orchard posh pop and Folkington’s juices.
The phrase ‘homely’ gets bandied about here there and everywhere (including regularly on these pages by me) but The Froize has truly got that homely feel pegged. The front bar/dining area has a lounge space with squidgy chairs and a TV hooked up to nature cams in the gardens.
The décor is ever so slightly off-the-wall country. There’s brick and beam, but also mounted glass cases filled with model cars and machinery or, as was over our table, a giant stuffed pike. Add to that circus posters and local art here and there and it’s a very eclectic mix indeed, but without straying into the realm of ‘weird’.
I always say you know when you’ve had great service or bad service- it leaves a lasting impression. The staff at The Froize were absolutely fabulous. They worked together seamlessly and David was a fantastic, enthusiastic, welcoming host. I especially loved the generously warm reception the children were given. I’m always first in the queue at a buffet, and there was no exception here, but after acknowledging me, David turned his attentions straight away to our nine and 11-year-olds, telling them about the food on offer that day, serving them and directing waiting staff to hold their plates while they decided which sides and veg they wanted. They felt like special guests and I loved that.
Some will gawp at the £17 price tag (half price for children), but we all felt this really did reflect the time, effort and quality that had gone into the food.
Spotlessly clean and simple. There’s a separate disabled/baby changing facility.
On the way to Orford in the hamlet of Chillesford. You might have to go out of your way to get there but I think it’s worth it.
There’s a huge car park to the northern side of the pub.
The venison pie. It was a rib sticking plate of food that showcased The Froize’s generosity, warmth and quality.
If you like decent grub without airs and graces, I’d heartily recommend taking a drive out to this pub. It’s like going for lunch at a friend’s place and I’d go back in a heartbeat (If I wasn’t still working off the last meal).
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