Located in a two-storey, 16th-century thatched building in Kelsale, Suffolk, Hedgehogs restaurant has oak beams, exposed brickwork and original inglenook fireplaces. Outside, an old apple press and gazebo, set in landscaped gardens, provide a picturesque setting for afternoon teas.
Stephen and Desmond Yare, originally from Cumbria, jointly run the 60-seat restaurant which they have leased since August 1995. The brothers have done stints with top chefs including Raymond Blanc, Albert Roux and Bruno Loubet. Stephen recently worked at the Georges Blanc restaurant at Bourg-en-Bresse in France and previously at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons at Great Milton in Oxfordshire.
Meanwhile, Desmond was working his way from Michaels Nook, Grasmere, to the Farm House, Woburn Abbey, before joining his brother briefly at Le Manoir then working for a year at Bistrot Bruno in London.
Since taking over the Hedgehogs lease, they have introduced a variety of menu options. A midweek three-course lunch is available (£9.95) whichincludes petit fours and coffee. At dinner, a set-price menu offers two courses (£13.75) or three (£16.95). It consists of a choice of six starters, six main courses and seven puddings. There is also a blackboard menu which offers an entrée and main course daily special.
Side dishes are available for an additional charge, such as Caesar salad (£1.50) or garlic mushrooms (£1.10). Coffee and petit fours costs £1.30.
Typical starters featured on the set-price dinner menu include: Hedgehogs' home-made chicken, pork and savoury herb terrine, served with chicory remoulade; hot baked cheese soufflé with Greek salad; and slices of Scottish salmon marinated with walnut oil and balsamic vinegar. Main courses include salmon with black bean sauce, and pork stew with white bean and smoky bacon purée.
Sticky toffee pudding is a favourite with regulars. Home-made waffles served with toffee bananas and ice-cream are also popular.
Dishes appear on the blackboard according to what's available from fresh produce suppliers. Two that often appear are Lancashire hot-pot served with a side-salad, and venison sausage with creamed potatoes.
The Yares run the kitchen and dining room with the help of five part-time staff. Average spend per person including wine hovers around £20.
A varied selection of wines from diverse regions is available in a 29-strong wine list. The wine list was reviewed when the Yares became familiar with their customers' tastes.
A separate connoisseurs' range lists 11 wines. House wines are from France - Jean des Vignes rouge, Vin de Pays des Coteaux de L'Ardeche (red), Jean des Vignes blanc sec, and Vin du Pays du Gers (white) come in at £7.50 per bottle. n
Hedgehogs, Main Road, Kelsale, Saxmundham, Suffolk. Tel: 01728 604444