Set in the bucolic Suffolk countryside, just a few miles from the sea and the lost village of Dunwich, the Star Inn provides succour for all those sick to the back teeth of hipster designed pubs, all fake age and Lasco sourced furnishings. Built in 1839 and run as a small neighbourhood inn, the present owners Karl and Virginia have reluctantly had to offer food in order to keep the place running; not that you can taste this in the food. A melange of woods, burgundy and oxblood painted walls, arts, brass, paintings and the multicolour of hundreds of bottles of ales, ciders and spirits, this little jewel box of an inn is a #SuffolkTreasure.
Surrounded by the five heaths of Wenhaston, the place is popular with walkers, tourists and locals and made the small daughter of our friends very welcome, even when she kicked over a pint glass of water all over the floor.
Our visit was deliberate as Matt and Ellie Hammond from Shortts Farm, Brewery in Thorndon supply the inn with ale and have long raved about the food. Having been feeding ourselves on a glamping weekend at the nearby Lanterns & Larks campsite in Sweffling, we were ready to be looked after.
Local rules here- bread from the Penny Bun Bakehouse, fish from the Sole Bay Fish Co and meat from Clarkes Butchers mean that the Whitebait we chose were as fresh as a fish can get only four miles from the coast and the bread in the crumb coating had never been acquainted with the Chorleywood Process. Chicken Caesar salad with crisp bacon, croutons & parmesan shavings was generous with hefty great chunks of poached chicken and no scrimping on a good quality grainy Parmesan with salty crystals that crunched on the tongue. Thai style fish cakes came with half the garden in a fresh salad and the home made burgers were cooked to our tastes- no health and safety led hockey pucks of well done beef. The baby had her own plate of bits and pieces from all our plates; she loved this and was suitably impressed by the nest of cushions made for her on a ‘grown up’ chair by the landlords sister. We could have had mushrooms & wild garlic in white wine cream sauce on toasted sourdough; ham hock & parsley terrine with piccalilli & toasts; bakewell tart with toffee & almond ice cream or rhubarb fool- these were just some of the options that we lingered over.
A lovely garden that hosts beer festivals and live music is out back and the area is prime walking territory; lushly fringed with fern and cow parsley and sandy pathways meandering through the bracken thick heaths. A local bus service runs past the pub, connecting Southwold, Halesworth and Lowestoft meaning there is no need to drive- a great bonus in this wilder, less accessible part of Suffolk. Despite the popularity of the region with tourists, the Star Inn and its owners don’t appear to be at all unfriendly to them, something not every business can claim.