Published in Feast, issue 41 – November 2019.
Aldeburgh is known for its musical heritage, a thriving arts scene, its shingle beach and fishing sheds, that rather controversial sculpture,The Scallop, and a very pleasing High Street.
But to us foodies, it is something of a Mecca. The Brudenell and Wentworth hotels stand proud at either end of this upmarket resort, with well established restaurants like the Lighthouse and the Regatta, delis such as Slate, an Adnams shop, numerous cafés and that famous fish and chip shop all attracting food and drink fans from far and wide.
My husband and I were based at the White Lion Hotel, near the timbered Tudor Moot Hall and the boating lake. It’s an attractive building, with large picture windows looking out to sea, and a friendly vibe inside. With 38 bedrooms and two restaurants, plus a bar where the locally produced Fishers Gin flows, it’s a very comfy place to stay and you can alternate, as we did, between popping out and exploring the town or just relaxing in the aforementioned bar, or the lounge areas.
We ate in the hotel’s Brasserie, where head chef James Barber makes good use of local produce and producers including Pinneys of Orford for smoked fish, Sutton Hoo chicken and Suffolk Gold cheese, from nearby Needham Market. It’s a good, accessible menu with firm favourites such as toad in the hole, chicken kiev, platters and lots of fish – I had a very good fish pie and Himself enjoyed the garden risotto. Mention should also go to my great raspberry trifle for pud!
We also ate in Sea Spice, the hotel’s Indian restaurant which is a very clever addition to the town’s dining scene. It’s in a great room, with dark green walls, much polished wood and subtle lighting. It felt like we ate our way through the menu, taking in everything from papadums to side orders like saag aloo, and plenty of very good home cooked breads. Our seafood and fish main courses were excellent, with a sea bass dish, with a Malabar fish curry sauce and Bombay potatoes, of particular note.
We enjoyed cream teas, with fat fruit scones, at the Brudenell Hotel, the sister hotel to ours, and had drinks in the Cross Keys, a newly revamped Adnams pub whose menu looked pretty good to us so that’s a must
for next time!
Apart from simply sashaying from pub to café to restaurant, there is much to see and do in the area. Walk the couple of miles to Thorpeness, past Maggi Hambling’s four metre high beach sculpture, where The Dolphin Inn is another lovely spot, and our deputy editor, Emma, is a big fan of canoeing on the Meare.
Or you can stroll in the opposite direction to the 19th century Martello Tower, passing the yacht club en route. There’s the Jubilee Hall where many concerts and shows are shown, an Art Deco cinema, and a handful of good art galleries where contemporary work is of particular note.
We explored Snape Maltings, five miles inland, but still a watery paradise, which is almost like a mini village itself these days. Their concert programme needs no push from me, and their food halls are pretty impressive, too, offering up local, British and international goodies. We lunched in their Café 1885 – a rather tasty rarebit for me – and I started my Christmas shopping!
But, best of all for me, is just walking on the beach, especially at this time of year. It’s a bit wild and windy, but there are no crowds and all that fresh air fortunately makes you ravenous!
Look out for the monthly Farmers’ Market at Snape Maltings on the first Saturday of the month. The next one is November 2, then December 7.
FOODIE SHOPPING IN ALDEBURGH
• Salter and King – craft butcher’s – a superb display here, with plenty of locally sourced meat
• Russell and Newnes – a friendly not stuffy wine shop – look out for their own label wine (red and white) Aldeburgh Bay, with makes a donation per sale to the local lifeboat station
• Slate – a super deli and cheese lover’s heaven
• Aldeburgh Fish and Chips – an institution. Simply a must despite the inevitable queue
• Two Magpies Bakery and Café – I had a great avocado on sourdough lunch here – and the range of breads and cakes is ever changing. The Allpress coffee is recommended
• Fishing shacks on the beach – try their daily specials which are chalked up on boards