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The White Lion, Aldeburgh

Sea Spice in Aldeburgh

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Hotel Reviews
- The White Lion, Aldeburgh

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The White Lion, Aldeburgh

Sea Spice in Aldeburgh

The White Lion, Aldeburgh

aldeburgh I am well-travelled but I still believe that there are few places better than Britain on balmy summer days, and particularly when one is fanned by soft sea breezes. Aldeburgh is an historic town and tourist destination for visitors who appreciate its expansive Blue Flag shingle beach.

Aldeburgh is a traditional coastal town in Suffolk. The North Sea breaks on the aforementioned wide beach with its fishing boats and crab pots. The promenade is fringed by fish shacks selling the day’s catch and smokehouses selling kippers. It is a former Tudor port and was granted borough status in 1529 by Henry VIII. Sir Francis Drake’s Greyhound and Pelican (later renamed the Golden Hind) were both built in Aldeburgh. The flagship of the Virginia Company, the Sea Venture, is believed to have been built here in 1608. This town’s historic buildings include a 16th-century Moot Hall and a Napoleonic-era Martello Tower. The town is famed for having been the home of composer Benjamin Britten and as the centre of the international Aldeburgh Festival of Arts founded by him in the late 1940s. There is an annual Poetry Festival and a couple of gastronomic events to entice visitors to this attractive corner of the Suffolk coast.

The White Lion is a quintessential sea-front hotel with a smart façade. Views are striking, with vistas from some rooms over the beach and the sandy courts for playing the rather Continental boules or pétanque. Aldeburgh does indeed have a classy vibe, giving it a somewhat universal appeal to all ages. Kids will love the boats and the sea. Sophisticated lovers of the finer things in life will be here for cultural events, and I will be here to relax.

aldeburgh The hotel has all the expected amenities including a rather quirky lift, but a lift nevertheless. There are lots of quiet corners in which to snuggle with a coffee, a gin and tonic, or a celebrated local beer. One might choose to leaf through the newspaper, delivered on request each morning.

We had a sea-view room and were impressed with the general standard of accommodation. Our room was large and contemporary with many original features. The bed was king-size and made with crisp white linens, and there was plenty of tea and coffee on hand, and real milk on demand for those who just can’t bring themselves to leave their so-cosy seaside nest! Hospitality in its truest form seems to be uppermost with staff here.

This is indeed a traditional hotel but with all the expected, or at least hoped-for, technology, which includes wifi and some high-end lighting. The bathroom was well appointed with both a classic roll-top bath and roomy shower. A bathroom to enjoy at leisure – but still allow yourself time to appreciate the ever-changing view from your bedroom window before dinner at Sea Spice just downstairs (review to follow soon), or the Brasserie.

I enjoy breakfast and the sea air does spike the appetite. The White Lion offers a full morning menu in that Brasserie. There are the usual Continental suspects but also some rather good pancakes. Milk-Poached Smoked Haddock and Poached Egg is well worth ordering. The local Suffolk Breakfast is for those who want a traditional start to the day. It’s substantial!

aldeburgh This is a face of our country that I had assumed was long-gone but here it is in rather smart fashion. Aldeburgh presents us with the very reasons why coastal holidays became so popular. The air is fresh. The buildings range from historic to quaint, and one is never far from good food and drink. The White Lion Hotel is privately owned by TA Hotel Collection, a group of well-designed Suffolk hotels of individual character. I will return to the White Lion with pleasure …and soon!

Check-in from 14:30. Check-out by 11:00

Children under 16 years stay free

Phone: 01728 452720

The White Lion Hotel
Market Cross Place
IP15 5BJ

Visit The White Lion here
food and travel reviews

Sea Spice in Aldeburgh

Sea spice okra I have written a book about Indian restaurants but they were all in London. I review Indian restaurants almost every month but I have never reviewed one outside the UK hub of Indian food – our capital city.

But here I was in a traditional English seaside town and a long way from home, and invited to an Indian restaurant. Was this menu going to be watered down? Perhaps a rather old-fashioned ‘curry house’ selection? Was this going to be the last refuge of the iconic red-flock wallpaper and a tapestry of the Taj Mahal? Those above worries, had I really had them, would have been unfounded. Sea Spice is a credit to its culinary genre.

This is a smart restaurant and the sea couldn’t be much closer. The wide Aldeburgh shingle beach is literally across the road. The decor here is cultured Indian colonial, with soft lighting to complement dark wood. Plenty of seating for small groups as well as couples make Sea Spice not only a venue for holidaymakers but also a regular haunt for locals who will likely appreciate the quality of food here.

Head Chef Pratap Singh Rawat has a grounding in the best Indian cuisine and in some of London’s best restaurants. He has worked at Mayfair’s celebrated Chor Bizarre as well as Tamarind and Benares, both of which have been awarded Michelin Stars. The pedigree of this chef is beyond doubt.

Sea spice dosaSea Spice manager Anupam Seth is justifiably proud of his domain and indeed of the chef who is making Sea Spice a ‘destination’ restaurant. Service here is swift and coordinated and as good as one would hope. It’s a well-presented and professionally-run small-town establishment with big-city polish and standards.

But the food will likely be the reason for your visit. Sea Spice takes advantage of Aldeburgh’s fantastic location on the Suffolk coast. Fish is showcased here along with fresh local organic vegetables and craft beers.

We started with Crispy Coated Okra. This is one of my favourites and ideal as a canape with drinks while perusing the menu. It is crunchy and spicy, and a dish which I have never been able to perfect at home. I’ll be asking Chef for the recipe and preparation details.

Masala Dosa was my companion’s starter, although in India it’s often found as a breakfast item. It’s a substantial plate but a delicious example of this dramatic-looking item. A dosa is a light and crispy fermented rice flour crêpe and is served with a potato stuffing seasoned with fenugreek and curry leaves. Garnishes were a brace of vibrant fresh chutneys which add so much to the dosa experience.

Sea spice dinner I enjoyed my starter of Jhinga Dakshini – tiger prawns in crunchy chickpea flour were simple and flavourful and gave a nod to the sea just outside, although I suspect these prawns came from more exotic climes. The chickpea flour gives not only texture but flavour to ingredients which it coats, and it also adds a pleasing colour when a little turmeric is included.

Goat Bhuna was my guest’s main course and this proved to be a robust gravy dish slowly cooked with tomato and ginger. The sauce was the star of this bhuna and would have been a joy on its own with a side of Indian bread.
Free Range Butter Chicken intrigued me. It’s a standard in most Indian restaurants but quality can be patchy. Yes, it’s a popular dish but Sea Spice elevated butter chicken by offering the meat on the bone rather than in chunks. This results in more succulent chicken and a more flavourful dish. Another bread-dipping bowlful. This with some Tadka Daal – yellow lentils, garlic and fresh coriander – and some rice completed this truly comforting meal.

Gulab Jamun was my guest’s dessert, chosen from a selection of traditional sweets. This was perfect when paired with well-flavoured Masala Chai – tea with a house blend of well-balanced warming spices. A cosy cuppa to end a delightfully unexpected meal by the sea. I can recommend Sea Spice. It’s worth the trip!

Sea spice dessert Opening Hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday to Sunday:
12 noon till 3pm for lunch
5.30pm till 10pm for dinner

Sea Spice
The White Lion Hotel
Market Cross Place
IP15 5BJ
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0) 1728 451 800

Visit Sea Spice here.

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