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Tuddenham Mill in Suffolk

Rating: 90.
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Outstanding (93-95)
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Note: Chef Paul Foster left Tuddenham Mill in February 2014.

After extensive restoration and refurbishment, Tuddenham Mill in Tuddenham re-opened in 2007 and was immediately picked-up by travel magazines and guides and rightfully so; Suffolk was in desperate need of a rural retreat. Tuddenham Mill is a converted water mill that dates back to the 12th century, located between the market towns of Newmarket and Bury-St Edmunds. The boutique hotel has fifteen luxurious bedrooms and has also been selected by Mr and Mrs Smith, the boutique and luxury hotel specialist. In the last two years however, it is Tuddenham Mill's restaurant that has been taking the spotlight.

In March 2010 Paul Foster became head-chef of Tuddenham Mill and the restaurant has been on the ascent ever since. On Monday 13 Augustus 2012 it was announced that Tuddenham Mill had entered the Good Food Guide 2013 Top 50 with a 6 out of 10 score (6 = exemplary cooking skills, innovative ideas, impeccable ingredients and an element of excitement) and in January this year the restaurant was awarded three AA rosettes.
Paul Foster has trained at Michelin starred restaurants like Raymond Blanc's two-star Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, Wylie Dufresne's NYC one-star WD-50, Thomas Keller's three-star The French Laundry and Marc Haeberlin's three-star Auberge de l'Il. Before becoming head-chef at Tuddenham Mill, Paul Foster had been sous-chef at two-star Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham. Paul Foster has also been a guest-chef at Nuno Mendes' The Loft Project in 2010 en 2011.

Tuddenham Mill is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week. The restaurant offers a lunch menu (2 courses £20, 3 courses £25), a lunch taster menu and in the evening there's a large taster menu (8 courses £65) and the a la carte menu. On Sundays the restaurants offers a special Sunday Lunch menu (2 courses £20, 3 courses £24). I had lunch at Tuddenham Mill with my husband on Saturday 27 July 2012 and we both had the 8 course taster menu (by special request).

Fantastic home-made bread.

First course of the taster menu, Pork snacks. A bowl filled with porky delights to share. At the bottom of the bowl was a delicious and highly addictive chorizo jam, followed by some very tasty pig's head croquettes which had a lovely soft and tasty filling and last but not least terrific pork crackling. The pork crackling went great with the chorizo jam.

Second course, Hen's egg, hake brandade, bacon. A perfectly cooked soft hen's eggs with a very tasty yolk. The brandade underneath the hen's egg was light and creamy and had a wonderful soft texture. The saltiness from the crispy bacon and the pepperiness from the watercress really lifted the flavours of this dish, very clever use of nature's own seasoning. 

Third course, Mackerel 52ºC, oyster, raw peas, lemon. Beautifully tender mackerel cooked at 52ºC served with oyster leaves and a fantastic fresh pea puree with lovely pure pea flavours. Nice acidity from the lemon cream which provided a pleasant lightness to the dish, a smart touch.  A beautifully presented dish with precise and clean flavours.

On to the fourth course, Duck heart, gooseberries, fennel, wild rice. I believe this was the first time I actually did have duck hearts. They were lovely and tender and made a wonderful combination with the sweet and slightly tart green and pink gooseberries. Lovely freshness from the thinly shaved fresh fennel and great texture and flavour from the crispy wild rice. An inspired and elegant offal dish with a beautiful balance between richness and freshness.

Fifth course, West-country lamb, shallot puree, beer pickled onions. I'm not a huge fan of lamb but this lamb went down a treat. Well-cooked pink rump and tender shoulder of lamb. Delicious silky smooth and creamy shallot puree, very elegant shallot flavours, not too intense. The beer pickled onions were fantastic, loved the sweet, sour and hop-bitter flavours. These bitters really added an extra dimension to the dish. A very precisely designed and executed dish with a brilliant combination of flavours and textures.

Sixth course and first of the desserts, Raspberry, meadowsweet, yoghurt. Lovely and refreshing yoghurt foam, nice fresh raspberries and some frozen raspberry drupelets for texture. Lovely citrus and bitter notes from the meadowsweet.

Seventh course, Bitter chocolate, hazelnut, buttermilk, chocolate mousse. This complex dessert was mainly about different textures of chocolate. Lovely chocolate brownie crumbs, a rich and buttery ganache-like chocolate cream and a light chocolate mousse that unfortunately lacked some intensity. Also on the plate were some refreshing buttermilk, hazelnut oil, hazelnut crumbs and a buttery nutmeg powder. Interesting combination of flavours and textures but somehow the individual components didn't really come together.

Eighth and last course, Celery, granola, salted apple. Lovely well-set celery panna cotta and refreshing sorbet with subtle (they could have been a bit bolder) celery flavours served with some fresh apple and delicious crunchy granola. Great to see the wonderful apple-celery flavour combination in the context of a dessert and I loved the saltiness in this savoury dessert.

Lunch at Tuddenham Mill was a wonderful experience and not only because of the flotilla of swans and cygnets swimming up and down the mill stream. Paul Foster is a young chef who clearly has the ambition to turn Tuddenham Mill into a culinary destination in its own right. He delivered himself of an excellent well-constructed 8-course taster menu. Modern British food using great local (sometimes literally foraged from the water meadows around the restaurant) ingredients and innovative texture and flavour combinations. This approach produces dishes that are clean and precise, elegant yet flavoursome, very skilfully executed and beautifully presented. I was particularly struck by Paul Foster's ability to create playful dishes, made up of only a few and often inexpensive ingredients, that are energetic and evocative. This gem is definitely no longer hidden.
Tuddenham Mill on Urbanspoon

Posted 15-08-2012


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