Suffolk's top tearooms
PUBLISHED: 10:50 03 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:18 20 February 2013
Our county has lots of great things in abundance - including tearooms! It seems that some Suffolk folk can't go far without their fix of a cuppa and a scone. Tea lover Sophie Jackson picks out her favourites
Our county has lots of great things in abundance including tearooms! It seems that some Suffolk folk cant go far without their fix of a cuppa and a scone. Tea lover Sophie Jackson picks out her favourites
Buckenham Coffee House
81 High Street, Southwold
The Buckenham Coffee House is one teashop which can safely be said to have atmosphere. Situated beneath the Buckenham art galleries in a 16th century cellar, the space is surprisingly bright and roomy. The old arches where once wine was stored now serve as display cases for ornaments, jewellery and giftware, while the far walls are decorated with prints and pictures.
Considering the size of the teashop a surprising number of people can be accommodated, though occasionally it is necessary to wait a few minutes for a table at busy times. Neither is the seating cramped, yet the place retains a cosy ambience tucked away from the hectic streets above.
The range of refreshments varies from enticing specials, such as onion tarts or delicious crumbles, to cakes, buns, baguettes and baked potatoes. Everything is freshly made and appealingly presented.
The range of drinks is equally impressive, whether you fancy a cooling beverage on a summers afternoon or a warming coffee on a wintry morning, there is plenty of choice to please all tastes. The one main disadvantage to the teashop is that it is reached by a steep and twisting flight of stairs leading down from street level. This makes it restrictive for the elderly or disabled and can make negotiating it with a pushchair awkward (though by no means impossible). Aside from that, the Buckenham Coffee House is a welcoming and warm place certainly worth a visit.
Munnings Tea Room
Gable End, 29 High Street, Lavenham
There is something quintessentially Suffolk about the Munnings Tea Room. But that is hardly surprising when it is set in the beautiful village of Lavenham where every other house is timber-beamed and painted Suffolk pink.
Looking like a Victorian post office, or shop, on the outside with its grey-green woodwork and pink walls, inside it opens into a quaint yet vibrant and thriving teashop. Old beams jut across the ceilings and partition the room, while a brick fireplace topped with a horse print by the tearooms namesake helps warms the place.
The tables with their white cloths and flower arrangements seem set ready for the arrival of Edwardian ladies, but the service and food is anything but old-fashioned. The menu is wonderfully eclectic with traditional favourites as well as more modern temptations.
The owners of the tea room are keen on organic produce and this is represented by a selection of Fairtrade organic coffees served in a cafetiere. There are also local specials, such as Lavenham sausages with rosemary mash.
On the more traditional side there is the indulgent afternoon cream tea which includes a pot of tea, a sandwich (with choice of filling) a large scone with preserves and clotted cream, and finished off with a slice of cake from the display, all for just over 10. With a temptation like that the Munnings Tea Room can hardly be passed by.
Georgian Coffee House
47a Thoroughfare, Woodbridge
Take a moment out from your busy day and step into a haven of tranquillity in the bright and comfortable Georgian Coffee House. With both indoor and outdoor seating it is the perfect place to pause and watch the world go by.
Open Monday to Saturday, the Coffee House offers everything from light lunches and home baked meals to breakfast, tea and cake. Many of the delicacies are locally baked and items such as sandwiches are freshly made to order. Along with daily specials and traditional favourites (such as scones and pastries) the coffee house offers a selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes, like spinach and mushroom lasagne or nut roast with salad. Puddings include old classics like spotted dick, sticky toffee and treacle pudding.
As for surroundings; the Georgian Coffee House, along with offering a covered terrace in which you can watch the world go by, has a light and airy conservatory, perfect for unwinding while indulging in a glass of wine or rich hot chocolate.
So why not take a break from sight-seeing or shopping and drop in to this gem of home-cooking?
Bizzi Beans Caf
Cherry Lane Garden Centre,
Homemade and local are the bywords of this modern dining experience in Long Melford. Situated just inside Cherry Lane Garden Centre, Bizzi Beans aims to provide great service and delicious food.
Since 2008 they have been producing and selling homemade cakes weekly via Sworders auctions. The feedback from their many customers has helped hone and perfect their menu. Every cake is freshly made on site. Pop in early enough and it is possible to see them being cooked and to have a scone straight from the oven. Whether it is carrot cake, Victoria sponge or their newest addition, boiled fruit cake, everything is made using Suffolk free range eggs.
Open seven days a week the tea shop is decorated with rich reds and comfy chairs, the feel is somewhere between classical and modern, but the atmosphere is all about comfort.
Bizzi Beans prides itself on using local ingredients where it can, whether that is locally baked bread for their sandwiches, or Suffolk ham, bacon or eggs to fill them. Their range of drinks includes the Mocha Brazil filter coffee and they claim to make the best pot of tea you will ever drink!
The Meare Shop and Tearoom
Thorpeness Meare, Leiston
The Meare Shop and Tearoom was begun by Elizabeth Everett and her late husband Chris in 1986. Originally running from the village shop, the tearoom eventually moved to the boating Meare.
Sitting near the water with fabulous Suffolk views, it is an ideal stopping point for people looking for food that is both homemade and delicious.
The teashop offers 36 seats inside with a further 80 outside to make the most of the spectacular riverside views. There are even several nooks and crannies to tuck yourself away in while you enjoy a homemade scone and glass of wine.
Previously a finalist in the EADT Suffolk Food and Drink Awards, Best Tearoom in Suffolk category, Elizabeth is keen to support local producers and sources her food from local farmers, fishermen and suppliers wherever she can.
The range of dishes varies from crab caught locally to quiches and even samosas. Speciality teas and coffee sit temptingly on the menu alongside extravagant hot chocolate with marshmallows and cream.
So whether you have been messing about on the river, or taking an afternoon drive, stop by for a bite to eat at the The Meare Shop and Tearoom.
2 Hungate, Beccles
If you are looking for something different from your tea shop experience Baileys is worth a look.
Baileys is a Spanish delicatessen specialising in Spanish wines, but they also have a small but impeccable tea shop upstairs. Furnished simply and smartly with lots of pottery and cooking wares all around, it is a lovely place to pause and catch your breath.
Baileys tea shop benefits from being tucked away, so while downstairs can be extremely busy, upstairs is a tranquil haven. Just as well, as the limited seating prevents huge crowds. This makes it a perfect spot to just chill out.
Food and drink is indulgent, generous and gorgeous. Cakes are freshly prepared and if you ask for a coffee, dont be surprised to see an enormous steaming cup placed on your table.
And after you have refuelled, it is almost impossible to resist stopping in the deli and browsing the range of cheeses, meats, olives, wines, pasta, and various cooking ingredients. You can even pick your own supplies for a speciality gift hamper for a friend.
Unsurprisingly this hidden tea shop can quickly become a regular favourite.
51a High Street, Southwold
Take a delectable trip back in time when you next visit Southwold by stepping into the 1920s haven that is Tillys. Elegant lighting, smart tables and a classy menu are all part of the experience as you indulge in high tea or a late breakfast.
The food on offer while traditional has sumptuous style. Sitting in the big bay window and indulging first thing in hot buttered crumpets or eggs Benedict seems delightfully naughty. Lunch menus are equally tempting, whether you fancy a three egg omelette or homemade fish cakes, and there is a nice selection of sandwiches on offer too.
But the real temptation that brings you back again and again to Tillys has to be the tiered teas. Just the name seems reminiscent of an Agatha Christie novel and the idea of well-dressed ladies nibbling on delicate sandwiches. The teas come in Savoury, Sweet or Boozy, all three include a choice of sandwiches and either fruit or cheese scones, but the boozy version allows you to indulge in fresh fruit with dipping chocolate and a glass of pink or white fizz. With a delight like that there is every reason to take a trip back in time at Southwold.
9 Marketplace, Mildenhall
Called an enchanting experience, Emilys Tearooms sits sandwiched between other properties and retains the look and feel of a very old house.
Inside, the walls are white plaster and a huge fireplace, with black oak beam surround dominates a wall. The whole property reeks of rural charm. Tables are scattered about in groupings of four, one nestles in the bay window and has a prime view outside between rich red curtains.
Open during most of the week, on Sundays the teashop is only available through private pre-booking for their Champagne Victorian Tea Party. An unusual event for bookings of eight to 16 people, the party gives a chance to enjoy a Victorian Tea with Champagne and strawberries.
During the rest of the week the tearooms have a very traditional atmosphere with soft music playing around the neatly laid tables. They stock over 100 different teas, including Suffolk blend, Assam, chocolate tea and a full range of herbals that can be served as iced teas as well.
One of the owners, Jaquie, cooks all the scones, pastries and cakes fresh each day. The food is exquisite and stylish, from pear and stilton salad to smoked salmon and cream cheese, with salad and coleslaw. And of course a wonderful array of sandwiches is always available. If you fancy a cup of tea with a touch of class, this is the place to go.
Sutton Hoo Tearooms
Tranmer House, Woodbridge
If you like a bit of history with your teashop experience there is nothing quite like a trip to Sutton Hoo. The site now belongs to the National Trust, meaning that if you are not a member you will have to pay to go in. However, if you are a National Trust member then your visits are free and unlimited.
The beauty of the Sutton Hoo tearooms is its ancient surroundings. Walking around the burial mounds, or strolling through the woodland walks whether it is winter, spring or summer is immensely pleasurable and builds up an appetite.
Perfect timing then to pop into the tearooms which are set back at the visitors centre. Like most National Trust run cafes, the food on offer is both superb and freshly made. The menu changes daily, but there are usually the traditional scones and cake on offer. Hot meals might include Welsh rarebit, soup of the day with a huge chunk of bread, or Suffolk sausages and mash.
Seating is in the airy indoor restaurant or outdoors on the balcony overlooking the grounds. There are no finer views to be had while drinking tea and on a sunny day the site is stunning.
Post Office and Tea Shop
Long Green, Wortham
The Wortham Teashop has existed since the 1970s and sits inside an old listed haybarn dating back to the early 1800s. Long dark beams and low ceilings hint at its origins and the furnishings help to create a cosy ambience.
The teashop is owned and run by Peter and Janice Lloyd and their daughter and son-in-law, Chris and Debra Young. Chris is the chef who cooks up the fabulous dishes, sumptuous sandwiches and delectable cakes, while Debra is usually front of house. Peter and Janice run the shop and Post Office that sit right next door to the teashop. Chris cooks most of the food in-house freshly each day, though certain items are bought in from the local baker. The menus change regularly and they always try to be seasonal.
Inside, dining can either be in the old building or the newer conservatory at the back which looks out on to a well-tended garden including a small waterfall. Outside there is a tea garden, which is very popular with walkers and their dogs.
The Lloyds and Youngs have only been at the teashop for 18 months and Peter admits this is the first time they have run such a business, yet they have turned the teashop into a thriving place, ideal for an afternoon cup of tea or a freshly cooked lunch.
Also worth visiting: The newly opened Tiffins Tea Emporium, Long Melford; Bonnets Cafe, a stylish option in Felixstowe, and Baileys in Whiting Street, Bury St Edmunds, friendly and relaxing.