Great year for the Great House in Lavenham
PUBLISHED: 10:09 15 March 2016 | UPDATED: 10:10 15 March 2016
Critics and foodies have heaped praise on Regis Crepy's multi-awarded restaurant in Lavenham, but it's the customer who counts, he tells Tessa Allingham
You don’t have to flick through many of the (so numerous) restaurant guides around to find lavish praise for The Great House in Lavenham.
According to the Waitrose Good Food Guide, it’s a ‘real treat’ and the cheeseboard is ‘superlative’, Michelin praises a ‘passionately run’ restaurant, while Hardens, in conjunction with The Sunday Times, has put it among the top 100 restaurants in the UK (the only one in Suffolk), and in the top five for value. The AA, meanwhile, awarded The Great House a third rosette back in October, and talks of the restaurant’s ‘creative flair’, ‘vibrant flavours’ and ‘va va voom’.
You’d be a sourpuss to disagree with any of the above. I am sitting in what is undeniably a lovely restaurant. The chairs are comfy, the crockery shines and the glassware glimmers, the art is tasteful and the light blue-grey tones restful. I know the rooms upstairs are delightful, and the kitchen and front of house teams are exemplary. Really, what’s not to like? So, I suggest to Regis, you must be delighted, all this love pouring in for The Great House particularly in your 30th anniversary year.
“Yes. Of course it’s wonderful,” he concedes, “and it has been an amazing year.” I sense a pending ‘but’. “It’s just that to be honest what matters most is not the accolades, but the fact that the restaurant is full and that customers keep coming back for more. I’m not sure how many of them have made the decision to eat here by reading a guide or a review or a newspaper list. Maybe some, but I’m sure most come because they’ve heard about us, because word gets round.” Regis is on a roll.
“To run a successful business is a huge pressure and requires hard work from all the team, and you have to keep that up day in, day out – we’ve been doing it for 30 years! We have plenty to think about without worrying too much about what the guides or critics write, or what awards we win, nice those these are to have.” His focus on the customer explains why the Hardens listing means a lot to Regis.
“The list is put together from 63,000 reviews from almost 7,000 diners, people who pay their own money to eat out. That means it’s an honest reflection of people’s tastes, not the opinion of a single guide inspector, for example. It’s the opinion of my customers that matters to me – these are the people I want to please.” Regis is particularly glad to be number four for ‘best value’ in the list with dinner costing on average £56 per head including wine.
“If you take the set lunch menu, it costs less to eat here [£22.50 for three courses; £19 for two] than it does in plenty of pubs and you get very good service thrown in!”