Could this be the best roast dinner in Suffolk? We try the Sunday roast at the Guinness Arms in Icklingham
Our traditional Sunday roast originated in the British Isles as a meal to be enjoyed after church on a Sunday.
Typically, chicken, pork, beef or lamb are the main element - though as a child, I recall Dad carving either a fragrant pheasant, a puny partridge or a stringy hare which Mum had killed for a second time in her scary pressure cooker.
There was many a Sunday afternoon when I was left feeling the pain of chewing down on a stray piece of shot which had made its way through the whole plucking and cooking process unscathed. Thankfully, I came away from the Guinness Arms with all teeth intact and a very full tummy after enjoying what can only be described as one of the nicest roasts I have had the pleasure of eating.
The 16th century Guinness Arms has an enviable setting. It's in the heart of Icklingham, in Suffolk, next to the church and mill, with lovely gardens which stretch down to the River Lark. The Arms, as its name suggests, is part of the Guinness family owned by nearby Elveden Estate, which also owns and runs the Elveden Inn.
But more about that roast.
The Arms is only a short drive from the heart of Bury St Edmunds and we ventured out on a particularly cold morning - to be greeted by the *perfect* table right by their roaring fire.
I wrote about the pub's refurbishment previously, so won't go over that again, save to say dining is either in a large, airy, conservatory-style area or more intimate tables where we sat in an older part of the premises. Young families, couples and larger groups all mingled together to add to the welcoming atmosphere.
I went out with the intention of enjoying a roast whatever - and not knowing how large or otherwise the Guinness incarnation would be, opted for a starter, too, as did my partner. Toasted Focaccia and Houmus with oil and balsamic (£5) was very filling for my other half while I plumped for the much more sedate Ham, Cheddar and Mustard Bites (£6), which were crispy, packed with flavour and just the right entree for what was to come.
So it was roasts all round - beef for me and turkey across the table (£16 and £15), served with Yorkshire Pudding, seasonal vegetables and roast potatoes. Now I'm quite particular about roast potatoes but these passed all the taste and crunchiness tests I could muster. I don't know if they were King Edwards, but they could well have been. Veg was copious and nicely done, nothing mushy here, and a side dish of creamed leeks added an extra dimension of both depth of flavour and creaminess. As for the Yorkie - well, I do struggle to get mine to rise so I need to chat to the chef at the Arms. I now know why they needed such high ceilings in the conservatory area - not for the guests but for the sheer height of the dish-topping pud. Simply divine. It was the star of the show - just stealing the limelight from my moist and flavoursome beef and my dining companion's turkey.
We battled through and tried and tried again to find space for a dessert but were properly beaten, even in the name of research. The Dark Chocolate Fondant (£7.50) and the Sticky Toffee Trifle (£7.50) both caught my eye but I'm a sucker for cheese and the local selection at a tenner may well have been my choice on another day.
For non-roast lovers, there's plenty more to delight on the menu. Pick anything from a Red Lion Burger (£14.50) to Beer Battered Haddock (£13.50 and it looked mahoosive - be warned), Roasted Onion and Thyme Broth (£13) or the Maple and Mustard Glazed Ham (£12) and I'm certain you'll go away as happy as we did, not least because of the knowledgeable and not over-bearing waiting staff (Alfie, thanks again).
Menu, bookings and more via https://www.guinnessarms.com/