Situated in 100 acres of farmland, Upper Grove Farm, in Rendham, offers unique farm stays and event catering.
We were kindly invited by founder Ben to stay in one of his converted railway carriages and try out a quintessential Upper Grove Farm meal.
The railway carriage conversion began as a lockdown project when Ben was unable to cook for events. The restored cabin has been finished to an incredibly high standard while maintaining the original rustic aesthetic.
We arrived at the farm on an autumn evening and walked up to the ‘Cliquot Cabin’ guided by a row of lights. The railway carriage was simply stunning. Inside, I instantly noticed the amazing curved, wooden ceiling and triangular window with beautiful views over the paddocks.
The super comfy, king sized bed had an Eve© memory foam mattress and enough storage underneath for our bags. There was a complete en-suite with rainfall shower and a kitchenette with two gas burners. Ben had left us a welcome pack with tea, coffee, bread and eggs for the morning. There was also a wood stove to keep us toasty. Back outside on the deck, the woodfired hot tub was warming up ready for an evening dip.
For dinner, we went over to Ben’s kitchen to enjoy a delicious tasting menu at the Chef’s Table in a converted outbuilding. A very gracious host, we had a brilliant chat with Ben about Suffolk’s wealth of good food.
The Suffolk countryside has been incredibly influential on Ben’s style of cooking. Focusing on seasonal produce, local game and ingredients from the farm, he aims to bring elevated traditional farmhouse dishes to his clients.
Ben grew up on the family farm in Hoxne, near Diss, before moving to London. He started his career at Majestic Wine before becoming a sommelier in restaurants. This was where his enthusiasm for cooking blossomed. He would experiment with different recipes and learn tips and tricks from his chef colleagues. Every evening he would read recipe books before bed and learn as much as possible about the industry.
When his father purchased the farm in Rendham, he decided to move back to Suffolk with his wife to start the next chapter of his career. After a stint learning the ropes at the Unruly Pig, Ben felt ready to open his private dining business. He now offers catering for events and special occasions, including weddings.
The dinner began with chorizo arancini (a deep-fried risotto ball coated in breadcrumbs) and croquettes. These were the perfect starters for me; a crisp outer shell on the arancini and spice from the chorizo, and then the gloriously melting cheese in the croquettes. Heaven!
Next up was a partridge blini served with pickled cucumber. The meat had a light game flavour which was punctuated with the acidity from the cucumber. These would make lovely canapes at an event and were representative of the game found here in Suffolk.
For the main course we were spoilt for choice with Gressingham duck and Blythburgh pork chop served with homemade apple sauce, mash potato and wild mushrooms. As you all know, duck and mushrooms are my favourite!
Both the duck and the pork were tender and beautifully cooked. When combined with the homemade sauce and mushrooms it really was the taste of the best Suffolk produce.
Then, to complete a wonderful dinner, Ben unveiled homemade madeleines and lemon posset! The lemon posset was full of flavour but still light enough to be a refreshing pallet cleanser. And what could be better than madeleines straight from the oven?
Next year Ben is planning to offer pop-up dinners in a woodland clearing on the farm alongside private catering bookings – sign me up!
After dinner we headed back to the railway carriage to spend time in the woodfired hot tub. It was so peaceful and relaxing, looking up at the stars and being surrounded by the countryside.
The next morning, after a restorative sleep, we headed out on a dog walk around the farm. The peace and quiet of the area continued as we explored the neighbouring fields. We even got a chance to meet Ben’s pig, Pumpkin!
Upper Grove Farm was the perfect haven away from our busy lives. Even though we only live ten minutes down the road, we could truly unwind and forget about reality for a moment.
Disclaimer: This was not a paid post. We were invited to Upper Grove Farm but did not receive payment for this blog post.
This is an account of what I experienced and I am not in any way responsible for what you experience. For my full disclaimer policy, please click here.