We couldn't be arsed to cook anything for Christmas so decided to take a break from the smell of paint and the threat of flooding and spend a few days in Lavenham. This is a well preserved medieval wool town and something of a gastronomic centre in Suffolk about 90 minutes from where we live. When I say well preserved, I mean "in an advanced state of decrepitude but still standing. Just".
Lavenham is where I spent the summer of 1977 waiting to hear whether I'd been accepted for an MSc course in Aberdeen and working as an electricians mate (US: laborer) rewiring a housing estate (US: public housing). Some buildings on the estate still stand, surrounded by the burnt-out ruins of their neighbours.
We'd left it too late to get into the best restaurant, and I thought we were booking into the second best. But the dementia kicked in and we found ourselves in The Angel, the bucolic offshoot of Wheeler's, now run by Marco Pierre White. I'm quite glad we did. The rooms are nothing special, but perfectly adequate, though the floors slope so much that it is impossible to leave a glass on the bedside table (US: nightstand) without it sliding off. The management provide a team of sherpas to help guests to the bathroom. The place still operates as a pub -- drooling yokels were much in evidence -- and there is no separation between bar and restaurant but somehow it manages not to feel crowded. The tables are all a good size. The decor is weird. The walls are covered by Giles cartoons and prints from David Bailey's Box of Pinups. The tables could have been set by your granny, if your granny had a leather fetish. The cloths are giant lace doilies covering ripped leather hides. The water jugs are green fish pitchers.
The food, however, is great. Nothing that will greatly surprise but very good ingredients cooked with a great deal of precision (but see below). The menu is distinctly French (croustade, forestiere, darne of salmon although, oddly, "Cambridge Burnt Cream") but with very English ingredients (Morecombe bay shrimp, stilton, scotch salmon).
Highlights for us were an exceptionally light (almost frothy) duck liver parfait with raisin and Madeira jelly -- the best parfait I have ever had -- and a fine roast partridge which was overcooked initially but replaced immediately with a lovely pink version. Even the turkey for Christmas lunch was good -- boned and rolled to keep it moist with good versions of all the usual stuff.
Breakfasts were also good and Marco Pierre White's own beer, The Governor, named after his father's greyhound and brewed by J.W. Lees in Manchester went down a treat (not with breakfast).
Rooms are about ₤130, Christmas lunch was ₤65, the normal carte comes to about ₤30pp.