After Hours: Tuddenham Mill whets your appetite
Stars and Stripes April 16, 2008
Amid the lackluster pubs and takeaway joints that dominate the restaurant scene in and around Mildenhall and Lakenheath, Tuddenham Mill stands out as a culinary beacon.
Even if good restaurants were plentiful in the area, Tuddenham Mill would still shine, thanks to its ultrafresh menu and elegant, yet comfortable, setting.
Tucked inside a centuries-old water mill, the restaurant changes its menu with the seasons and relies heavily on local produce and meats. Daily lunch, dinner and dessert specials add to the dynamic bill of fare at Tuddenham Mill, which also includes a small boutique hotel on the 12-acre site.
Ordering can be a bit tricky for those whose fine-dining vocabulary could use a little polishing. But not to worry, the servers can translate gourmet into English.
My main course, roast fillet of cod, chorizo and parsley mash with peas and smoked bacon veloute (18 pounds), was pricey but easily one of the best fish dishes this Florida native has ever had. The perfectly cooked cod, creamy potatoes and velvety sauce made each bite worth savoring.
Make sure to save room for dessert, even if it’s just for coffee and biscuits (3.50 pounds), which I chose to top off my meal. The chocolate shortbread alone is worth every additional calorie of buttery goodness.
Head chef Gordon McNeill is clearly passionate about food. McNeill’s Scottish heritage is evident in dishes such as the traditional Cullen skink soup, though Italian and Asian influences also permeate the adventurous menu.
McNeill recommends the Mill Taster Menu (65 pounds) for those who want to try a bit of each of his best recipes. Make sure to call a day in advance if you want the sampler, which includes six courses, dessert and champagne.
The mill’s two-story wooden water wheel, though not functioning, is encased in glass and serves as the centerpiece of the upstairs dining room and downstairs bar. While the building is rustic, it’s interiors are chic and modern. The combination makes for an upscale atmosphere without airs.
“We strive to be relaxed yet stylish,” said front-of-house manager Harriet Vessey.
Tuddenham Mill’s extensive wine list boasts more than 150 different bottles, many of which can be served by the glass. The bar also offers a good selection of beers and cocktails. House specialties include the Tuddenham Green — Midori, apple sour, blue Curacao and orange juice — and the Race Lights — champagne, vodka, cassis and blue Curacao.
The main dining room overlooks a willow-lined creek brimming with swans and ducks. Patrons can sip a drink or enjoy their meals outside along the waterfront when the weather is nice. The restaurant can be rented for private parties and also has a secluded dining room that can accommodate business meetings.
Point blank: Tuddenham Mill is expensive. But if you have a discerning palette, the food is well worth it. It’s also a great place to go for a special occasion. (Vessey said many a man has proposed to his lady loves in the dining room.)
Just make sure to take your time and enjoy the food and the beautiful place it’s served.
Location: Get on the A-11 toward Cambridge and turn left at the exit for Tuddenham. The restaurant is about two miles down on the right.
Phone: 01638 713552.
Hours: Open 7-10:30 a.m. for breakfast (until 11 a.m. on weekends), noon-2:30 p.m. for lunch (until 4 p.m. on Sunday), and 6-9:30 p.m. for dinner.