The Crown and Castle is a restaurant with rooms. As such, good but not pretentious food is at the heart of what we offer. The restaurant has a relaxed but lively ambience and none of the gloom of a typical hotel restaurant. With 2 AA rosettes and good write-ups in all the major guides, guests often cite the food as a major reason for staying with us. Our wine list also wins many plaudits in the guides, not least for the reasonable pricing structure.
Please be aware that the largest party we can take for either lunch or dinner is ten. This is because our bar is tiny, we cook everything freshly (no microwaves!) and, most importantly, the deleterious impact on other guests here to enjoy an unfrenzied atmosphere. And, to pre-empt the next question, we cannot split larger numbers between two tables for exactly the same reasons!
“A recent quote from the recently retired principal second violinist of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and his adorable wife, “On Friday evening we tried hard – very hard, wearing our sternest critics hats – not to be seduced by mere delicious food and lovely wines. We considered the staff, the ambience, the room, every single damned thing and finally came to the conclusion that, despite our closest scrutiny, it was all as delightful as ever. How disappointing and no fun at all. Nothing to carp at, no teeny weeny niggles, just a really super evening that reminded us exactly why we always love visiting you. So thank you again. You perform that most difficult of tricks; to remain consistently terrific, but still inventive, always interesting and smiling to boot!”
Produce and its provenance
A great deal of time is devoted to sourcing wonderful local produce (neither a fad nor a jump on the band wagon) and creating menus which offer robustly flavoured but elegantly presented food. Suffolk is blossoming with more and more artisanal food producers, markets, food fairs and shops. The Aldeburgh Food Festival (held at Snape Maltings) is on over the last weekend in September, but there are numerous places to eat good food and shop for good food throughout the year.
Here are some of our favourite producers and slow-food fanatics:
www.suttonhoochicken.co.uk for the best free-range chicken
www.butleyorfordoysterage.co.uk for fantastic smoked salmon and smoked fish in general
www.pumpstreetbakery.com for brilliant artisan bread, especially sourdough
www.stokessauces.co.uk locally made tomato ketchup and other bottled sauces that we use to accompany lunchtime fish and chips, etc.
www.high-house.co.uk for the best apple juice and seasonal fruits
www.aldevalleyspringfestival.co.uk a celebration of Suffolk’s finest food, art and gardens
www.petersyard.com the most enticing of artisan crisp breads, quite unlike the norm
nikobchocolates.co.uk fantastic hand-made chocolates, including very special nougat and original 2-bite (or 3) confections
nealsyarddairy.co.uk simply the best for British and Irish cheeses
www.wildmeat.co.uk for game and venison
NUT ALLERGIES: we regret we are not able to accommodate serious and/or life-threatening nut allergies as we cannot guarantee the provenance of every item of food that comes into our kitchen.
For coeliacs or similar, we offer gluten-free bread (and toast) and can happily substitute chickpea flour for wheat in deep-fried dishes. We can also offer alternative desserts to those that include pastry.
For those with a dairy intolerance, we always have soya milk, spread, yoghurt and ice cream available.
We will happily offer guidance through our normal a la carte to guests who wish to avoid a particular ingredient because of intolerance or simple dislike!
We are delighted to offer a separate menu for committed vegetarians who never eat meat and fish. We can also care for vegans with a separate menu. In both instances it helps us offer you a more interesting choice – especially at Sunday lunch – if you mention this at the time of booking. (Four exceptions are Christmas Day lunch, Boxing Day brunch, New Year’s Eve dinner and New Year’s Day brunch when the advertised menu is the only one available.)
For fish-eating ‘vegetarians’, please be assured that our normal a la carte offers a good choice of non-meat dishes. We are also very happy to cook any ingredient plainly if the a la carte seems a bit too challenging.
Children & Dogs
DOGS: we welcome a limited number of well-behaved dogs in five designated Best Garden rooms, a few dogs in the bar, and we have one (bookable) doggie table in the restaurant area. So please be aware of this should you not like them.
CHILDREN: we welcome children of any age in the restaurant at lunchtime and those over 8 years old in the hotel and at dinner time so please be aware of this should you not like them.
Guests' own food and drink
Guests’ own alcohol
We prefer that guests do not bring in their own liquor as selling drinks and wine – and food and accommodation – is our core business. (As Tim says, he doesn’t take his own spark plugs to the garage when he is having his car serviced!)
Because of the above, we make a room service charge of £10 for guests bringing in their own liquor but wanting us to supply ice, ice buckets, glasses, etc. And, for occasions when a guest wants us to serve a special bottle (that’s not from our extensive, fairly priced wine list) in the restaurant, the corkage for still wines is £25 and £35 for sparkling wines.
Birthday cakes, etc
The strictures on traceability and preserving the sanctity of the food chain are beyond draconian. For this reason we regret we cannot allow produce other than that made in our own kitchens to be served. But don’t panic: given a heads-up, we always honour birthdays and anniversaries with a complimentary cupcake and lighted candle, as well as a few nice chocolates.
Our bar is small but stylish, with dark wood floors, mirrored shelves and a shiny steel bar top. The bar area, for both licensing and seating purposes, extends into the main reception hall where we also have an open wood-burner. So far so good, but the space is very limited which is why we stagger meal times to make sure there is enough seating for everyone to enjoy a pre-prandial drink. The collection of embroidered pictures were made around the 1900s by soldiers engaged in campaigns abroad. With time on their hands, sometimes because of hospitalisation, they would embroider these commemorative pictures to send home to their families.
The bar is open for drinks every lunchtime, but not until 8.30pm or afterwards for casual drinkers. This is because of the very limited space, which we need for guests staying.
The Parlour – private dining room
The Parlour is our delightful private dining room which sits a maximum of 10 people.
Please note it is physically impossible to fit another chair round the table, so 10 really is the maximum, however much pleading goes on!
The Parlour has being completely redecorated and refurbished (December 2016) with new floor-length curtains (Osborne and Little’s Pavilion Garden) and ravishing upholstery on the chairs (O&L Durbar, Haveli). With a huge 3-bay window, it is light-filled during the day and wonderfully cosy at night. The walls are hung with a variety of interesting, decorative artworks with a beautiful purple-lacquered console table underneath one of the most flamboyant paintings. The big, round table has no legs to combat, and was especially made for us by Benchmark. Menus and service are exactly the same as in the main restaurant, although we are more than happy to construct a special party menu, if desired.