Magical woodland restaurant opening in Suffolk this spring
- Credit: Camilla Andrea Photography
Sessions will become available this Sunday (March 13) for a truly unique, immersive outdoor dining event in Suffolk.
Pheobe Cripps of Your Kitchen My Place, a catering business known for informal, Mediterranean-style sharing plates and feasts with local produce at its heart, hopes the pop-up could be the first step to opening her very own restaurant in the county.
The experience takes place at on Saturday May 29 at Upthorpe Woods in Stanton near Bury St Edmunds, plunging diners deep into the treescape at dusk where, as the sun sets, amidst the trees and wildlife, they’ll be served a three course meal Pheobe hopes they’ll never forget.
Almost a year in the planning, the go-ahead was finally given for the outdoor restaurant this week by the local council.
“We often cater at the venue,” says Pheobe. “We do long table dinners usually, and wedding guests are always saying ‘this is fantastic’, ‘we love it’. We wanted to share that with more people. It should be beautiful. Completely different. There’s nothing like it in Suffolk.”
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Arriving at the venue at 7pm, guests to the supper (£60 per person) will be led through huge church doors into the welcome area where they'll be served artisan cocktails crafted using herbs and flowers on the grounds, and canapes including truffle arancini.
“We’ll then show everyone to their table in the woods. They’ll be formally laid out, with French linen tablecloths, fine cutlery and glasses. And I’ll be in the middle, in a horseshoe set up, preparing the food over a wood fire.”
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Tables will be distanced to ensure Covid compliance and are limited to groups of two to six, with a maximum capacity of 40, and indoor plans should the weather turn.
“I think it will be so romantic,” says Pheobe. “We’ve got festoon lighting, long tapered candles. And I’ve timed this so the sun will be setting, and it will just be starting to get dark!
“I hope it gives people a flavour of my cooking, which is very much Italian in influence. I love serving small plates with just the best ingredients. If I use olive oil, or burrata, or olives - I want them to be the best I can buy. And of course everything else will be locally sourced and home made.”
The menu begins with burrata, peas, broad beans and prosciutto with rosemary and olive oil focaccia. “I’m really proud of that recipe. Imagine the most super-light, airy bread with lots of holes, drizzled with gorgeous olive oil.”
In the middle is wood-fired rib eye of Red Poll beef, sliced chateaubriand-style, and served with wood-fired asparagus with lemon and pine nuts and Parmesan, and then almost a take on Spanish patatas bravas, with the potatoes in a rich tomato sauce with a bit of aioli.
Dessert is an elderflower panna cotta. And there will be handmade chocolates with coffee afterwards.
“It’s simple food, cooked well, infused with the flavours of smoke from the fire. No foams or emulsions.”
Vegetarians can also be catered for. And Pheobe says there will be a bar, operated by Upthorpe Wood, serving a small but thoughtful list of wines and soft drinks, available to buy to complement the meal.
“My end goal,” adds Pheobe, “is to end up with my own premises cooking the food that I love, and this idea is a good way to explore that, and gauge peoples’ reactions.”
Tickets for the exclusive restaurant will initially only be released online for Saturday, but Sunday and Monday may be added dependent on interest, which has already been huge on social media.