Plate With A View: White Hart Inn, Nayland
Owned by Michel Roux of Waterside Inn fame, and staffed mainly by ex-Watersiders, the menu at this more intimate, less wallet-busting Suffolk outpost of the Roux empire strays surprisingly far from its owner's Gallic roots. I started with a meltingly delicious home-cured haddock gravadlax, followed by a subtly intense honey roast pork belly on a bed of cabbage and lentils.
My wife was tempted by the twice-baked cheese soufflé, but being in the early stages of pregnancy thought it safer to order a seasonal salad marinated "à la Grecque" vegetables and fresh herbs - the soufflé long forgotten by the time she had wolfed down this toothsome harvest.
Her pan-fried fillet of local Maldon beef came rubbed in star-anise and cumin, and moistened by a tarragon jus. If you fancy something simpler, there's a macaroni cheese. Puddings consist of old favourites such as a twist-baked Bramley apple with cinnamon ice cream, or creamed rice pudding with mango.
Sit by the windows and you can try counting the different Farrow & Ball-style shades - from taupes and cooking-apple greens to French mustard and French blue - that Nayland's justifiably famous timber-framed houses come painted in. The view inside is arguably even more theatrical, a large section of the restaurant floor being a plate-glass window through which the wine cellar can be viewed. Diners suffering acute vertigo may prefer the wine list - where a half bottle of Montagny Premier Cru La Vigne sur le Cloux 1997 (£11.50), or a Coudoulet de Beaucastel Château de Beaucastel Rhone 1996 (£27) might catch the eye.
Starters range from £4.50 for a shellfish bisque to £12.80 for a terrine of foie gras. My gravadlax cost £7.70. My wife's beef was the most expensive main course, at £16.60, but she wasn't drinking alcohol so our bill came in at a relatively modest £66.55, minus service, for some confident, above average cooking. We ate less happily at a well-regarded gastro-pub in a nearby village the next night.
The White Hart Inn, High Street, Nayland, Suffolk (01206 263382; www.whitehart-nayland.co.uk)
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