Suffolk Seafood Restaurant The Sorrel Horse Shottisham
12:38 28 February 2022
15:59 February 28, 2022
A fun fact about campaign ads. Did you know that several in East Anglia have places where you can tie up your horse – you know, if you’re just trotting and fancy a pint?
But the (aptly named in this case) Sorrel Horse at Shottisham further afield, with a dedicated paddock for all visiting four-hoofed friends.
This is just one of the many wonderful features of this charming country inn, which is quickly becoming known for its excellent seafood and wines.
Other notable features are a “secret” shepherd’s hut bar at the back of the beer garden, the pizza oven (it’s pizza night on Thursdays) and the nearly free supply of freshly shucked oysters . They’re not a weekend treat at The Sorrel Horse. You can eat them any day of the week, and Friday between 5pm and 6pm is ‘oyster happy hour’ where bivalves are just £1 a pop.
A wine shop is also planned for the pub (just over 10km from Woodbridge). That’s no surprise given it’s run by couple Rebecca Murland and Clement Sigaut who until recently (it’s now wholesale and online) operated Smashing Wines in Woodbridge.
The couple took over the pub last summer, managing it on behalf of the community with chef Edwidge Wella and manager Cameron Blackwood-Hugh.
They have completely refreshed the interior, put their specialist touch to the wine list and worked hard to create a menu of dishes which they believe sets the pub apart.
“It’s very tasty,” says Rebecca. “It’s more like a restaurant and we’re already attracting people who like good seafood, and that’s where we’re heading.
“We closed our shop just before lockdown, and the reason we took the pub is because we were supplying The Sorrel Horse with wine. Gary (who ran the business) was one of our clients. We were chatting one day and he said he wanted to move on so we thought, why not take a pandemic pub,” laughs Rebecca. “In fact, we had a very good summer last year. We can’t complain. And because we opened the pub when no one could eat inside, it meant we could really look inside and put our stamp on it.
Prior to Smashing Wines, Rebecca worked with her sister at Kin Knives in Rendlesham for seven years, then took on a role in marketing for Jamie Oliver, with a move to France to mix before returning to Suffolk.
Frenchman Clément has always worked in the food industry, whether as a chef, a caviar seller or a wine seller.
At Smashing Wines, the pair have focused solely on excellent quality natural wines – which now feature heavily at The Sorrell Horse, where you can learn about the process behind natural wine, sample a few glasses and ( hopefully later in 2022) buy bottles to take home.
The wine list is complemented by real ales from Woodfordes and Marstons.
On the food side, besides the oysters, there is a clear inclination towards the sea.
“There are some great pubs here, but a lot of them have the same deal, things like crispy pork belly, so we were determined to do something different.” said Rebecca. “There are amazing seafood businesses in the area, but Woodbridge doesn’t have a seafood restaurant. We wanted to capture a gap in the market. There is something for everyone, but fish and shellfish are what we want to highlight.
“We get a lot of fish from Mike at A Passion for Seafood or from Sam Cole near Lowestoft. We can’t wait for the lobsters to come back in season. We had them all last summer. Everyone told us we would never sell lobsters in a little pub in the middle of nowhere, but we kept calling Mike saying we needed more!”
The meat comes from Salter & King butchers, and the vegetables are as local as it gets, with the same menu for lunch and dinner, and Rebecca adds that they “don’t do sandwiches.” But there may be soup during the day. “We recently had cullen skink which is really, really popular. It was my dad’s favorite and I have so many memories of eating it in Scotland. Clément is not a fan of soup… but even he likes it!
This is also not the place to go if you are looking for a traditional Sunday lunch. “So many pubs do a roast. But, maybe because Clément didn’t grow up with them, we decided not to. We have things like duck leg confit with mashed potatoes or stewed shoulder of lamb. There is always a “meat and three veg” option, but what we prefer to do, what we love to do, are big seafood platters in the summer!
Hit dishes that have been featured at the pub include crab gratin, scallop ceviche and mussel fries made from Brancaster mussels.
“We have great burgers made by Salter & King,” adds Rebecca, “and we recently used Emmett’s ham for our ham, eggs and fries. That was delicious. Fries, crispy duck egg and nice slices of their ham.
The British steak with shallot butter is another winner.
As for the desserts. “We recently had a hot ginger sponge cake with caramel sauce, it’s a classic. Our bestseller last summer was tiramisu. And the salted caramel ice cream puffs. I loved it.
This week, March 2-6, following the success of pop-up Greek dinners with Chef Maria Elia, Clément will lead the kitchen for five lunch and dinner services, featuring his own pop-up French menu.
“The Greek pop-up was so popular,” says Rebecca. “We only did this with Maria because our chef was leaving and we thought it would be fun to do something different. Our customers loved it – and locals have already booked tables for the French menu.
“Clément has a friend in London who will bring up the French products, supplemented by our local suppliers. Bistro De Clément will have a full à la carte menu, and we will be adding weekend specials.
Dishes include frog legs with garlic butter, scallops, mussels and chips, tartiflette, duck confit parmentier, apple pie, chocolate mousse…and a French cheese platter .
“We’ve been very pleased with the response so far,” says Rebecca. “All the locals have been so eager to support us! We are really looking forward to it.
Booking information is available on The Sorrel Horse website. The pub is open from Wednesday to Sunday.