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WEST ROW — Just a quick drive from RAF Mildenhall and nestled in a quiet village where scores of American airmen live, Judes Ferry pub welcomes guests with a diverse menu, a full selection of tasty brews and a laid-back waterside attitude found at few other Suffolk watering holes.

The pub sits on a unique piece of geography in relation to the rest of East Anglia, because guests can arrive by land or by water. Guests can drive up on Judes Lane and park in the extended lot or navigate the River Lark and moor alongside the pub’s picnic area.

Visitors have been coming to this peculiar stretch of Suffolk since the Roman era, when a vast inland fen surrounded the area, forming an island of sorts.

The dock where pleasure boaters now moor for lunch or dinner has been welcoming vessels since it was called Staphen Ho and boats traveled from there to the nearby Isle of Ely.

Today, the fens have been dredged and emptied, and connecting with Ely is far easier on the highway than on the canal channels.

But there is still a charm to watching the slim canal boats carefully negotiate the narrow creek into the low-key dock. On any given summer’s day, there is normally a gathering of boats tethered to the shore with their captains parked on a picnic bench not too far from the gently flowing river.

But folks come from far and wide for more than the aquatic aesthetics.

The restaurant features a full menu with dishes ranging from a honey-glazed shoulder of lamb accompanied with fresh vegetables for 9.95 pounds ($17) to a Mexican chimichanga served with sour cream, picante salsa and guacamole for 7.50 pounds ($13).

The traditional Sunday carvery is so popular that bartender Kristie Davis recommends phoning ahead to make reservations.

The pub, which often fills to its capacity of more than 100 folks on Friday and Saturday nights, does well to compliment the tasty dishes with a wide range of brews to satisfy almost any palate. They also serve wine and spirits.

The decor is nondescript, like many pubs that aim to serve first and impress second, but the collection of wide, open windows allows a comfortable breeze to waft through the sun-drenched lobby.

Judes Ferry is not your traditional pub for several good reasons. The food is too good, the air is not smoky enough, and a good portion of the guests have to know when to say when to maintain their status as a sober skipper rather than a safe driver.

All told, there are few more relaxing and enjoyable locations to stop in for an afternoon lunch or an after-work brew than this West Row fixture.

Judes Ferry

Location: Judes Lane, West Row.

Ambience: A mix of traditional pub and waterside park.

Cost: No cover charge.

Service: Always accompanied by a friendly smile.

Drinks: If you’re thirsty for it, and you’re not overly sophisticated, odds are they will have something to satisfy your thirst.

Web site: www.judesferry.co.uk


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