Bookings now open for unique new Suffolk dining experience
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
“We only made those for a joke because I love them,” laughs Justin Kett of Suffolk’s Fork Deli and Kitchen when I mention his Scotch eggs.
The shop, which opened in November on Hadleigh’s High Street, regularly has a (socially-distanced) queue snaked around the corner for the runny-centered morsels and, says the former executive chef of The Swan at Lavenham, they can never make too many.
Approaching the building in the centre of the market town is a delightful assault on the senses – plumes of cooking aromas burst out onto the street from the ground floor open kitchen. Freshly baked sausage rolls. Dense, deep-filled quiches. The heady vanilla of a recently baked Victoria sponge.
Despite opening in ‘dark times’, in the middle of a lockdown, the team have built what looks to be a very successful and well-loved business in a few short months. With big things on the horizon.
“It’s been really really positive,” says Justin. “November and December were beyond our wildest dreams. When we went back into lockdown, January was tough because the high street was empty, and we thought ‘is this the future’? There was just so much uncertainly. Then in the lead up to Valentine’s something changed and it was back full-steam-ahead again. That was just phenomenal and we haven’t looked back. Friday, market day, in particular is amazing. We’re so busy here. Now we’ve got to the point where we have so many regulars and they are our biggest champions, spreading the word.”
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And those include Youtube superstar Joe Wicks, who posted a picture and shout out for Fork’s marmalade on his Instagram account.
Another highlight for 2021 has been striking up a deal to supply Paddy & Scott’s Ambition House in Ipswich (with top secret plans for the town bubbling away).
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But what Justin is most looking forward to is getting back behind the stoves for private dining and cookery workshops in the stunning beamed first floor space above the store.
Bookings are already flooding in for both.
The private dining is unlike anything else in Suffolk. Seated around a bespoke-made table crafted in Sudbury using Elveden Estate wood, groups of between 10 to 16 people can book the dual aspect room overlooking the town centre, with complete free reign over the menu. There’s no tasting supper or set list to choose from...it’s your meal, your way.
“Everything is completely bespoke,” Justin explains, adding that three courses is typically around £25 to £30.
“They [customers] come to us with a date, a rough idea of what they want to spend, and we ask what they like to eat. They might ask for a fish starter, a duck main course and a something with berries for dessert. I’ll then go away and research what’s in season and what we can get from Suffolk, and we make a bespoke menu with a few different choices and everything individually priced.
“There won’t be waiters standing around in the corners. We want diners to feel like they’re actually in their own home. Our chefs will serve the dishes and explain them, and bring water and wine as needed, leaving the table to enjoy themselves. Going forward we will have sample menus if people want them, but we’re literally up for anything. Tom and I love the chance to be playful with food. We don’t want to do the same thing as everybody else but equally if someone wants sticky toffee pudding or chicken breast with potatoes, that’s fine too.”
If you want to learn more about the kind of food Justin can conjure up, keep an eye on Fork’s social media for his cookery workshops – the first six of which have sold out multiple times over – from seafood, to vegetarian.
“We have seating in lecture theatre style, so it’ll be like the classes I did at The Swan,” says Justin. “I’ll talk through dishes, then we’ll set up lunch at the table. We can fit 12 to 14 in each class. I can’t believe how popular they’ve been. I could have sold the two children’s classes three times over. Those are going to be great fun and I’m hoping to add more dates later in the year. We’ll cover the dining table and give them an ice cream base so they can make their own flavours. And I want to show them how to make pizza dough. And how to make vegetables ‘taste nice’.
“Our game cookery sold out twice over too and we even got asked to do a private game cookery class online in lockdown. On average, I’ll demonstrate around five dishes, and one of them will be what we have for lunch. I’m really looking forward to these.”
If the sound of that’s making you hungry, and you can’t wait until June to book on a course or snatch a private dining spot, there’s loads of new things in store at Fork which have been developed since opening late last autumn.
“We’ve got fresh sandwiches to go. And I handmake bagels every single day with a ferment dough. They’re filled with things like beef, rocket and mustard, but I’ve also got a customer who rings me up and asks me to put a few aside for him unfilled, and of course we can do that. It’s about what our customers want. Our doughnuts have been phenomenal. We’ve got flavours like lemon meringue pie and apple crumble, and we bake those and change the flavours every day. And we’re currently expanding our bake-at-home cookie range and make your own pizza boxes. It’s just really exciting times for us. I can’t wait to see where we take it next.”