Sometimes it's nice not to be surprised. Driving through rural Suffolk, one of England's most bountiful natural larders, that's exactly the case: you're greeted by green fields, flat arable land, and farms full of livestock so healthy-looking it's practically beaming – and that's exactly what I expected. The Bildeston Crown makes a great base for exploring this abundant county’s food scene. Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds have their own unique identities, but much of Suffolk’s hidden food delights can be found in the picture-perfect villages dotted in between them, like Bildeston.

The Crown combines a cottage feel with ultra-modern amenities; winding, gnarled corridors with vaulted ceilings and huge bathrooms; a cosy, antiquated hotel bar next to a modern, seasonal, cool restaurant. With local produce as good as Suffolk's, chef Chris Lee’s food – served à la carte from two menus, or via a tasting menu – doesn't have to overcomplicate. Sun-yellow yolk oozes from the first cut into a tangy haddock fishcake, and asparagus – as seasonal as it gets, in May – bursts with flavour, too. And my main, a braised collar of Suffolk ham, drenched in warming mustard sauce and served with crispy croquettes, is another example of a light touch applied to a piece of local meat that sings with flavour.

104 High Street, Bildeston, IP7 7EB;

Getting there: Trains from London Liverpool Street to Ipswich start at £76.20 for an open return from Once in Suffolk, a hire car is probably the best way to get from hotel to hamlet to farm to restaurant, and vice versa.