In the heart of Constable Country on the Essex Suffolk border, The Sun Inn has been a watering hole for villagers and resting post for travellers for centuries. These days, it offers a convivial welcome to locals and visitors to Dedham Vale. The Sun Inn is an ideal spot to revive yourself with a pint of craft beer, an Italian-inspired meal, a tasty bar snack, or a good night’s sleep. Independently owned and run since 2003 by Piers Baker, this year The Sun Inn celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2018.
The Sun Inn is a proper coaching inn with an elm bar, an open beamed dining room, oak floors, a snug oak-panelled lounge. You will find open fires to keep warm by in the winter, and a peaceful garden and terrace to enjoy in the summer. After a major refurbishment in January 2018, there are bold colours, rich fabrics and bespoke furniture. The mood is congenial, relaxed and family-friendly, with jazz and Latin American background music adding to the appeal. There are newspapers to read, board games to play, and the panelled lounge has deep sofas to sink into.
The Sun Inn is renowned for fabulous seasonal food, inspired by Italy. Head Chef Jack Levine creates robust dishes that are big on flavour. The menu changes monthly and features classic pasta and risotto dishes: crab ravioli; squid with chilli and garlic; as well as more hearty main courses including game in season, rare-breed meat and day-boat landed fish. The menu always offers three cuts of British rare-breed steaks to suit every wallet – skirt, sirloin and prime bone-in-rib and on Sunday’s there’s a generous roast with seasonal changing accompaniments.
Puddings also have an Italian twist such as Espresso Semifreddo, Burnt Meringue, Caramel, Hazelnuts and feature seasonal fruit like Blood Orange Chocolate Mousse.
A new bar menu launched in January for this seeking something more casual to snack on in the characterful bar or the comfortable and cosy lounge. Enjoy a Coronation Sutton Hoo Chicken Sandwich, steamed mussels with Aspall cider or a charcuterie platter to share with friends or indulge in Jack’s Snack based on chef Jack’s midnight fridge raid.
Head Chef, Jack Levine says ‘Cooking with the seasons is very important to us - everything tastes better in its natural season and gets to us quicker so it’s fresher. Our area has a long tradition and perfect climate for growing fruit like apples and raspberries which arrive in our kitchen on the day they are picked. It almost goes without saying that we source produce locally when we can, but first and foremost ingredients have to taste great, if it doesn’t we look further afield.”
Drinks are just as important as the food and are sourced from producers who are as passionate about what they do - ales from Crouch Vale Brewery or Adnams and an eclectic award winning wine list brimming with rare treats.
Seven beautiful en-suite bedrooms, all individually decorated with sumptuous beds and luxurious linen retain their centuries-old character and are a perfect place to unwind. Rooms at the front overlook the beautiful church while those at the back enjoy views over the garden. Breakfast (which is also available to non-residents) includes the classics smoked salmon and scrambled eggs and a fry-up with local sausages and bacon as well as more unusual spinach and mushroom omelette with smoked cheese.
The village of Dedham and the countryside around it has changed little since it was immortalised by John Constable in the 18th century, yet it’s under two hours drive from London. Opposite the striking St Mary’s Church, visitors can explore the pretty village with its patchwork of colourful houses, or borrow bikes, hire a boat to explore the Stour Valley or take a gentle stroll to Flatford Mill.