REVIEW: The Turks Head in Hasketon
PUBLISHED: 13:05 10 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:20 10 June 2020
copyright to Simply C Photography
The Turks Head at Hasketon is everything you hope to find in a modern village pub | Words: Jayne Lindill - Photos: Cherry Beesley
This article was written prior to lockdown and all information should be checked before you make your visit
Even as you set foot inside the Turks Head at Hasketon there’s something that tells you this is a very special pub.
The warm atmosphere and cheery welcome, the comfortable, relaxing surroundings say this is a place for everyone, right at the heart of the community.
‘Dogs, muddy boots and muddy children welcome’ the website proclaims. No wonder the Turks Head has a clutch of awards to its name, including Outstanding Customer Service in the 2019 Eat Suffolk Food & Drink Awards, John Smith’s Great British Pub Awards 2018, The British Pub and Bar Awards 2018 and a place in the Morning Advertiser/Estrella Top 50 in 2017.
Yet seven or eight years ago, The Turks Head was one of those all too common features of villages today, a run-down pub that was struggling and about to close.
For Hasketon residents Jemima and Dominic Withey, who had been used to popping into the pub on their dog walks, the loss of the village watering hole was unthinkable. So they decided to buy it.
Neither had any real hospitality experience, although Jemima was an interior designer and Dominic a property developer, so they knew what was involved in a major project.
The 18-month refurbishment and eventual relaunch in November 2015 was, says Jemima, a steep learning curve, but ultimately extremely rewarding.
She and Dominic used their skills to transform the 17th-century building into a lovely venue for relaxed casual dining and drinking, creating a new restaurant and kitchen, redesigning the bar and landscaping three acres of grounds. Inside, the walls display work by local artists while in the gardens close to the outside dining space are artist Paul Richardson’s stunning sculptures.
Jemima is hands-on in the pub and has built a great team front of house and in the kitchen where head chef Chandramauli (Mauli) Dwivedi has been in charge since the reopening.
The pub has established a strong following of loyal customers who travel from all over Suffolk, not least for Mauli’s exceptional food.
Mauli is passionate about using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and the pub’s regularly changing menus reflect his Indian heritage and classical French training.
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Mauli trained with the Taj Hotel group, including working under Antonio Carluccio. He has been in the UK for about 16 years including working as head chef at The Black Lion in Long Melford.
“People are aware that we have an Indian chef, so we like to have a bit of spice about the menu,” says Jemima. “Mauli’s Bengali monkfish curry is a best seller but Sunday roasts are incredibly popular too. The menu changes every ten weeks and everything is made in-house, including our bread and ice cream.”
The Turks Head is very much a community hub as well as a top destination for eating out in Suffolk.
There are regular petanque evenings (the pub has two pitches), quiz nights and supper clubs, beer and gin festivals, and a summer party with Mauli’s spicy street food from the barbecue.
There are also themed food evenings, live music on Sundays, and on bank holiday weekend, Friday May 8 to Sunday May 10, there will be a Wine and Gin Festival at the Turks Head.
The pub supports local charities – last year it was Riding for the Disabled and this year it has chosen to raise money for Homestart – and hosts Meet up Mondays, attracting 15-20 people each week who come for coffee, food and conversation.
Some of them have struck up friendships as a result, sharing trips to the cinema, walks and even organising a Christmas dinner.
The pub also caters for the village church each month, providing a chance for older people in the community to get together over a meal. “Community involvement is very important to us,” says Jemima, “part of the way we do business. We do it because we want to.”
Jemima and Dominic now hope to expand the Turks Head, turning it into a pub with rooms. If all goes to plan they will double the kitchen and add eight bedrooms, as well as a dining room for 30. Not bad for a pub that was almost lost to its village community.
The Turks Head
Low Road, Hasketon, Woodbridge, IP13 6JG | 01394 610 343