Review: A hidden food gem in Suffolk's smallest town

The Pizza Calabrese at Honey Hill in Clare

The Pizza Calabrese at Honey Hill in Clare - Credit: Liz Heath

Our food reviewer Mark Heath and his wife Liz visited Honey Hill in Clare for an early Saturday dinner. Here's what they made of it...

Location, location, location. 

Not just an awfully middle-class TV show, but something of frightful importance when one is choosing a home or, I would argue, opening a restaurant.

With that in mind, there can few better places in Suffolk from which to watch the world go by as you dine than Honey Hill.

Located right on the corner of the ridiculously picturesque Market Hill in Suffolk's smallest town, it's something straight out of a Famous Five novel or, more accurately perhaps, a scene in Lovejoy.

Honey Hill in Clare

Honey Hill in Clare - Credit: Mark Heath

We weren't there for lashings of ginger beer or to see Tinker about an antique though - we wanted to eat, and eat well. And so to business.

Shown to our seats in the corner of the lovely little eatery - faithful hound in tow, Honey Hill is dog friendly - we had ample opportunity to enjoy the idyllic vista while choosing our weapons.

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With the sun shining and all right in the world, a couple of glasses of superb New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - why do other countries bother? - were duly ordered and delivered, and we were ready to make our selections.

The bruschetta starter at Honey Hill in Clare

The bruschetta starter at Honey Hill in Clare - Credit: Liz Heath

We decided to start with the bruschetta and arancini rice balls, which arrived quickly and looked good.

Bruschetta first. This was what looked like pizza dough, topped with a generous portion of chopped tomatoes and drizzled with garlic extra virgin olive oil.

The tomatoes were bursting with sweetness and flavour - clearly quality produce - offsetting nicely with the garlic oil, while the crunchy and chewy bready base brought texture and ballast to the party.

The arancini rice balls at Honey Hill in Clare

The arancini rice balls at Honey Hill in Clare - Credit: Mark Heath

The rice balls, meanwhile, were good too. Slightly crispy on the outside, harbouring soft rice and a delicious molten cheese middle, the whole dish was elevated when teamed with the accompanying herb and garlic mayonnaise. Very tasty indeed. 

Onto the mains then, and a story before we do. Honey Hill opened as a bistro just six weeks before the first Covid lockdown - far from ideal.

Facing the same issues as every other restaurant or café did, the owners decided to pivot to takeaway pizza offerings - and they made them so well that it's something they're known for now.

The Pizza Calabrese at Honey Hill in Clare

The Pizza Calabrese at Honey Hill in Clare - Credit: Liz Heath

You can still get takeaway pizzas - a steady stream of folks collected them while we were there - and we couldn't really pick anything else for our main courses.

The Hill offers 12 thin crust pizzas, 12 inches in diameter, although smaller eight-inch pies are available during the day.

They range from the classic Margherita to the more adventurous Frutti di Mare (garlic king prawns, mascarpone, baby tomatoes and rocket) or Napoli Bianca (ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, anchovies, toasted pine nuts and fresh salsa verde).

The Diavolo pizza at Honey Hill in Clare

The Diavolo pizza at Honey Hill in Clare - Credit: Mark Heath

There are multiple vegetarian choices, while gluten free and vegan options are also available.

Now that's out of the way, let's get on to our sections. We opted for a Diavolo (pepperoni, mozzarella, sweet peppadew peppers and red onion) and, after toying with the idea of a Hot Honey, were swayed by a recommendation for a recent addition, the Pizza Calabrese (N'duja sausage, red onion, mozzarella and rocket).

Before we get to the eating, it would be remiss of me not to mention the wonderful aromas drifting across the dining room as the pizzas were prepared - quality, Italian-sourced ingredients, that wonderful fresh pizza smell, all part of the experience.

The Diavolo pizza at Honey Hill in Clare

The Diavolo pizza at Honey Hill in Clare - Credit: Mark Heath

When they arrived, on individual boards with our own personal cutters, it was immediately clear that this was good pizza.

The Diavolo was smoky and spicy, with a lovely sweetness from the peppers and red onions. The Pizza Calabrese edged it for us though, dollops of knock-out N'duja - fast becoming one of our favourite ingredients - bringing heat, smoke and richness to a cracking pizza. Even the rocket, something which I usually discard immediately, added to the eating.

If there was one slight negative, it was that the thinness of crust teamed with the generous toppings meant that eating them as nature intended - with your hands - was sometimes tricky. One should never use a knife and fork to consume pizza, at least in my book, but at times here it was unavoidable. 

Boards cleaned - with the help of a very obliging dog-shaped crust bin beneath the table - we moved on to the monthly dessert debate.

Any for me? Our canine companion hopes for a crust at Honey Hill in Clare

Any for me? Our canine companion hopes for a crust at Honey Hill in Clare - Credit: Liz Heath

Regular readers of my reviews will know that I consider it a duty to tackle all three courses on your behalf, but here we had to go for the sharing option, ordering up a single tiramisu. Don't think any less of me, please.

This was good too though - a tiramisu more on the creamy side of both make-up and flavour, but with well-soaked sponge beneath. Teamed with an espresso and the soft Suffolk sun streaming through the window, life was rather splendid.

All told, our meal came to £72, which for me was good value. And the story doesn't stop there, because I had more purchasing to do before I took my leave.

The tiramisu at Honey Hill in Clare

The tiramisu at Honey Hill in Clare - Credit: Liz Heath

With Honey Hill offering all manner of Italian pastries and cakes as well, there was quite the carb-laden display on offer when we stepped through the door.

Turned out I couldn't step out of the door without treating myself to four cannoli - salted caramel and pistachio would be my tips, dear readers - and a goodly handful of biscotti, which I've been enjoyed with my coffee all week.

And, for all this talk of pizza, I should also mention that you can get yourself a handmade pasta dish of the day at the Hill too, if that takes your fancy.

The impressive array of pastries and cakes on offer at Honey Hill in Clare

The impressive array of pastries and cakes on offer at Honey Hill in Clare - Credit: Mark Heath

Off we trundled into the setting sun then, the Market Hill a very pleasant place on which to emerge post-dinner.

Location, location, location. Honey Hill is a hidden gem in Suffolk's smallest, and perhaps prettiest, town.

Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues that do or do not advertise in our publications.