Quick Questions with Charlie
Charlie returned as General Manager of The Angel at the start of 2016, after 3 years away from the hotel. Find out how things have changed since his return.
You've been back at the Angel for just over a year. How have you settled in and what changes have you made to the running of the hotel?
It’s been a great honour to be back running one of the landmarks of the town and somewhere I hold dear to my heart. We are lucky to be situated overlooking one of the prettiest squares in Bury St Edmunds, but I understand that this is no reason to take things for granted.
Perhaps the biggest change I have brought in is to recruit our fantastic Head Chef - James Carn. We both think it is important to serve food that stands out as the best in the town and that’s what customers are noting about the food in the Eaterie.
It has been great working alongside James, watching him create all manner of wonderful dishes and having to be the guinea pig for most of them. My particular favourite thus far has been his Greene King I.P.A sticky lamb belly with sweetbreads and roscoff onions. On the menu at the moment we have a superb gin cured sea trout starter and for dessert, a douglas fir and raspberry sandwich with yoghurt sorbet, which is James’ take on a summer pudding. Although I must say it is hard to choose a favourite when everything is so good!
Has the hotel changed since you've been away?
There were many changes in the 3 years that I was away, but the heart and soul of the hotel is still very much the same. This is what I missed and I am pleased to be part of again.
What I had not seen were the newest bedrooms which are part of the re-juvenation programme. Some of these rooms have copper baths in the bedroom, which are very sexy! But importantly with great water pressure they take only 3 minutes to fill and trust me they are big - two persons big!
What's the best thing about being general manager of the Angel?
This one is easy. The team I work with. When I was here before I was proud to have the most professional and friendliest team in the area. That is exactly what I have got here again now and it makes me very proud watching them all grow and seeing their passion for food, wine and service grow with them.
What do guests say about the hotel and the town in general?
What a great hotel in a great location in an absolutely great town! Our guests love staying with us and enjoy having afternoon tea in the lounge and cocktails in the Wingspan Bar, all before sampling James’ latest creations in the Eaterie. They also enjoy exploring the town’s huge range of independent shops and restaurants, made easier by our central location.
How closely do you get involved in the hotel's menus and wine offerings? How is the latter selected?
I work closely with James so that we are offering a varied seasonal menu. We have a great working relationship with our wine merchants and spend a lot of time tasting new wines or new vintages of current wines with them (sounds awful I know…), in order to offer a varied list catering to all palates.
One of my favourite things is to sneak down into Robert Gough’s cellar in The Angel armed with my coravin to find lovely wines to add to our list. Lucky for me, he has a great palate and I am currently putting on a really good Meursault and Volnay. Neither of them are cheap but both offer incredible value, especially as we sell them by the glass and you can’t find wines like this anywhere else in the area. This is what excites me about my job - offering things people appreciate and can’t find anywhere else.
What events are coming up at The Angel this autumn?
We shall be continuing our ever-popular Wine Nights. I absolutely love these evenings. We decide on a wine region, country or style and then produce an exciting 4-5 course menu that compliments the wines perfectly. I love eating out as we all do, but these evenings give dining out a different feeling. We have managed to create a sense of community with many guests returning month on month and getting to know each other.
Coming up next is Northern Italy, Bordeaux, Tuscany and Champagne, and a full list can be found on The Angel's website.
If you wanted to welcome one or two famous people to the hotel for a stay who would it be and why?
Oh wow, what a question. If I was able to sit and have dinner with them then the list would be huge.
I have been incredibly lucky to have met some of the people I have in the past that it makes it very difficult to choose just a couple so I don’t think I will be able to. Although it’s always a great honour to have famous guests in the hotel, I am a firm believer that they should be able to keep their privacy to themselves. So many places brag about who stays with them but I prefer us to be “the quiet retreat”.
Away from work, how do you spend your time?
I love all things coastal. Other than Bury St Edmunds I don’t feel at home anywhere more than in St Merryn just outside Padstow, Cornwall. This has always been my second home and I can’t go too long without spending some time down there.
Charlie can be found most days at The Angel, and to book your room or table please contact 01284 714000 or visit our website for more.