Upstairs at Baileys of Beccles

This is cheating slightly because it’s more of a meal than an outing, but a list of our favourite things would not be complete without a visit to this amazing restaurant (and we’ve found a way to make it into a real occasion too!).

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For a romantic occasion (and Ivy Grange Farm has seen its fair share of proposals and special celebrations), head for Upstairs at Baileys, home to some amazing Catalan-fusion cooking. Set above a lovely Spanish delicatessen by day, at the weekends you get to climb the stairs of an evening and enter another world; in a slightly formal setting, this small restaurant above the deli has been getting very positive attention from the national press and booking is most definitely required.

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We head to Upstairs at Baileys for anniversary celebrations or a very occasional “haven’t we done well with lovely guests this year, and we deserve a treat” outing. To elevate this to a real event, we get out our bikes and pedal to Beccles following national cycle route 1 all the way – on quiet lanes through rural countryside. It’s a lovely way to enter Beccles (gateway to the Southern part of the Norfolk Broads) and we’ll usually stop by the river next to the newly renovated Lido to watch the swans paddle by and the occasional pleasure boat chug past. From there it’s up past the Church and in to the restaurant for an amazingly modern, inventive meal, welcomed by engaging and charming owner Xavier Esteve, whose journey from Spain to Suffolk is another story in itself.

The cycle ride back home – along very dark lanes so make sure your lights are working – accompanied invariably by hooting owls with bats wizzing overhead, makes for a great adventure and is very definitely one of our highlights of the year. Of course, you can drive or, if you want to sample the excellent wine list, catch the train from Brampton (2 miles away) to Beccles and book a taxi (Neal's Taxis in Westhall village) for the return.