When I started my holiday cottage business in the middle of the rural Suffolk countryside I had no idea that one day we would be hosting a Fine-Dining Pop Up Restaurant experience that would prove so popular. Now a bi-annual event every Spring and Autumn, over the course of a weekend, we take diners to foodie heaven with Michelin Star trained Chef Mark Peters. And all in the setting of my 500 year old thatched farmhouse holiday cottage in Suffolk.
I take my hat off to Mark and the whole of the catering industry. Mark offers a bespoke Chef service for guests numbering from 2 to 180 and works with a number of professional footballers, focussing on their nutritional needs, as well as catering for some prestigious launch events, including Aston Martin and has even fed Hollywood’s elite! I don’t know how he does it! We only have the room to serve a maximum of 24 diners at each service but as they tuck in to a mouth-watering seven courses it’s still hard work for our small team. For the rest of the year our business is all about holiday cottages in Suffolk. That’s easier!
There is an awful lot of furniture moving before and after the event, which doesn’t help, but these two weekends are probably the most tiring of the year! So to anyone working hard in the catering and hospitality industry, I genuinely salute you. I used to own a restaurant and I’d forgotten how physically demanding it is!
Setting the scene for you
For those who haven’t yet experienced what we offer, it’s a very relaxed, fine-dining event in the beautiful surroundings of our 500 thatched, oak-beamed, farmhouse. Our focus is on outstanding food and service. The ethos is as simple as we are!
You arrive through the courtyard garden into the kitchen and can see Chef at work. We then serve bucks fizz and canapes before seating you. The surroundings of Woodfarm House just make it very homely, which seems to be a welcome change from the norm of eating out. You have your own table but there is a tendency for guests to mingle and chat over the bucks fizz, which again adds to the informality. This theme often continues throughout the meal too but if you’re looking for a romantic meal then you can still enjoy this. All this, coupled with the rustic charm of the beautiful old beamed farmhouse seems to set a very unique tone. It’s a bit like a large dinner party with friends. It really is an event!
We always serve dinner on the Friday and Saturday night and then Sunday lunch, which is a great way to round it off. You can simply choose which one you would like to attend. Please note that we now only have spaces for Sunday Lunch at our next event in November 2016.
Once our guests are winding down with their coffees I let Chef out of the kitchen to come and hear what people think of their meal and I have to say, we get so much incredible feedback, with a large percentage of our diners having been before! Some of our diners come every time!
So, here’s the menu for November 2016:
Canapés and Cocktails on arrival
with Bob Scott of Niche Cocktails
Spinach Roulade, Seared Aubergine and Mozzarella
Grilled Hake, Coconut Cream, Fava Bean broth, Queen Scallop
Poached Duck Breast, Manuka Honey, Apple & Buckwheat
Sloe Brandy Panacotta, Acai & Mint Jelly
Chocolate Torte, Cherry Cream, Balsamic Shard
A selection of Suffolk Cheeses, Biscuits & Chutneys
Courtesy of The Earsham Street Deli, Bungay
Coffee, Teas, Fruit Tea, Truffles
This event has very much grown organically from our first one in 2012. I’m really lucky to host this event as a joint venture with Mark. Not only is he an amazing chef and highly organised but we have also become firm friends over the last few years and we have such a laugh over these weekends, which to be honest is certainly the main reason I do it!
Our holiday cottage barns all get booked as soon as we announce the next event, but this is a great opportunity for us to connect with people around Suffolk, as my holiday cottage guests are usually from further afield.
Serving you a slice of Suffolk
We endeavour to source as much local produce as we can throughout our courses and always have a wonderful cheese finale, courtesy of our friends at The Earsham Street Deli in Bungay. Amongst the firm favourites are usually Suffolk Shipcord from Rodwell and Baron Bigod, made just four miles away from our holiday cottages, in Coddenham.
Suffolk business community
Other than the food, the thing that always strikes me is the amount of Suffolk businesses attending our events each time. This is a real boost for me as other than hosting the Pop Up, very little of my business comes from Suffolk as one would expect as we tend to holiday further away than our own county. My holiday cottage guests come from far and wide to enjoy my cottages and our beautiful county, so I wasn’t used to local people even knowing about us! But now that seems to have all changed and it’s really refreshing that we seem to be gaining a reputation amongst the Suffolk business community, as well as foodies around the county. There’s such a good feeling about meeting and tying in with other local businesses as we form more and more reciprocal partnerships each year.
Enough waffle from me. This is what our guests say about the Pop Up Restaurant;
“What a fabulous evening! We came with friends, enjoyed great food in a cosy, friendly atmosphere. Thank you so much Carl, Mark and the team….. we will be back! – John & Nicky
“Wonderful experience, great food, great company” – Rob & Julie
“Fabulous!!! Great food, great company, great venue! Can’t wait til next time” – Bryan
“I loved the food, I loved the ambience, what a great night. Can we come back again please?” Edward & Julie xx
Great food and a fab night” – Tim
“A lovely evening! we always admire the house when we run past and now we’ve eaten in it!” Lucy & Richard
“Wow! What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday lunchtime. Delicious food served in a beautiful setting. Couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome” – Sally
“What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday! Fabulous! Beautiful and absolutely delicious! Thank you!!!” – Caroline
Another fanstastic meal, beautful food, wonderful service and perfect company. A wonderful afternoon. We will be back. Thank you” – Ian
“Third time! Still amazing and full of surprising flavours and stunning presentation” – Marcel
“Absolutely delicious! Particularly the Thai Green Dover Sole Mousse, but also the sweet fennel salad. Our second visit and we were not disappointed! Five stars in all departments!!” – The local B&B Owners 🙂
“A year since our last visit and we hope we will be in the area more to take advantage of the next wonderful feast! So many wonderful flavours, beautifully presented. We really enjoyed the afternoon and will definitely be back” – John & Marion
“Our first time at the Pop Up and ….. WOW! You won me round to fennel and tiramisu! The flavours were just delicious; subtle combinations that worked to enhance each plate and the menu overall. I’m a huge fan of the Dover Sole Mousse too! Thank you so much and looking forward to meeting you again in November! Best wishes and many thanks! – Fiona & Rob x
So what’s next? Well, get yourselves booked in for our next event!
TICKETS ON SALE NOW!
We will be serving dinner on Friday 18th and Saturday 19th November 2016, as well as Sunday lunch on the 20th.
To book, call me directly on 07810 371218 or simply email email@example.com and we’ll see you soon!
For full details of Chef’s services just visit Mark’s website Just Imagine Foods.
All but the last three photographs courtesy of Coastal Creative Photography.