Restaurant review, Cleone’s at The Angel Hotel, Halesworth: “It gets better with every mouthful”
- Credit: Archant
Cleone’s at The Angel Hotel in Halesworth is an ideal spot for Saturday night dining, says Emily Cotton.
When I think of Italian restaurants, I often think as far as pizza, pasta and maybe one or two other dishes, therefore my boyfriend Ryan and I were pleasantly surprised at the extensive choice of options on the menu at Cleone’s at The Angel Hotel in Halesworth. There were all sorts of dishes – hot and cold options for starters, pizza, pasta, meat dishes and salads for mains (some of which were also available in smaller portions for a starter, or I guess for those with smaller appetites), and a gelato menu, as well as a specials menu on the wall for dessert.
For starter, I chose the Crostini Piccione (thankfully each dish had a description translated into English too), which was seared pigeon breasts on toasted foccacia with spinach and a bramble and balsamic glaze. The pigeon breasts were beautiful. They were rich and gamey, and so soft to cut through – almost melt-in-the-mouth, which sat perfectly with the crunch of the toasted foccacia and the tart taste of the balsamic dressing.
Ryan chose Cozze Arrosti for starters, which was a dish of green lipped mussels served in their half shell and grilled with a parsley, garlic, parmesan and lemon breadcrumb stuffing. As a fan of Parmesan on seafood, these were an easy choice for a starter for him. When asked how they tasted, he said: “The lemon overpowered the rest of the ingredients, but I could still pick out the other flavours. Personally though, I would have liked them cheesier. They were slightly dry too, but expected that when grilled and covered in breadcrumb - I just prefer mine juicy.”
Both choosing from the ‘I Secondi’ part of the menu for mains, I opted for Orata Al Pesto E Rucola – a pan fried fillet of bream with basil pesto and a rocket garnish – while Ryan chose Medaglions De Bue Al Quo Vadis – pan seared medallions of fillet steak with a red wine, mushroom and green peppercorn cream sauce.
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My bream had a thin crispy skin and while it did taste great with the pesto it was served with, it was a little dry in the middle. The steak however was perfectly cooked to Ryan’s requirements. The peppercorn sauce was plentiful, smothering the meat. This would have possibly been too much if the sauce was too strong or even if it was not flavoursome enough, but the red wine, mushrooms and peppercorn sauce were the ideal combination, with Ryan stating “this just gets better with every mouthful!”
The menu states that both of these dishes come without any vegetables sides and if you want these, they are to be purchased separately. The menu allows diners to choose which specific vegetables they want (£1.75 each or have a selection for one person for £3.25). A board on the wall above our heads listed the day’s choice of vegetables – Italian layered potatoes, creamed potatoes with wholegrain mustard, roasted carrots with rosemary and garlic, Savoy cabbage with smoked bacon, cauliflower with sundried tomatoes and broccoli.
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When we were ordering, the waitress explained that because the ‘selection’ was three vegetable dishes, and that we were both choosing this option, that she would bring us all six to share between us. The selection of vegetables were a great addition to both our meals, however some proved better than others. The layered potatoes were soft in the middle, but had a beautiful crispy, browned top and I was very surprised that the Savoy cabbage came with very generous chunks of smoked bacon (I was expecting the opposite). I didn’t believe the cauliflower and sundried tomato combination worked well together though, with it having an odd taste than wasn’t desirable.
We were given another menu for dessert on which was a large handful of gelato and sorbet choices, as well as also being pointed in the direction of another specials board with the day’s desserts. We both chose from the board – I chose the chocolate, cherry and amaretti slice and Ryan chose the ‘traditional’ tiramisu. After looking at the menu and back at us a couple of times each, possibly unsure about what to offer next, the waitress asked if we wanted cream or ice cream alongside.
When it comes to dessert Cleone’s is generous in its portion sizes. When I was brought my chocolate, cherry and amaretti slice, I was left a little overwhelmed with the two large slices I was given. Predominately chocolate, but also made up of plenty of glacier cherries and small chunks of amaretti biscuits, the dessert was enjoyable but very sweet. I managed to finish only one of the slices, thinking that this would have been plenty to have been given in the first place. Often tiramisu can be booze heavy but this one had the right amount of liquor, especially as the portion size was generous and any more alcohol would have been overpowering. This dish did not stand out though; after eating, Ryan said to me he felt dessert was more to fill him up rather than for the taste. He added: “When the waitress offered cream on the side, this was a nice surprise as there was no mention of it on the menu.”
Cleone’s has a large wine list that is given to you at the table, which is a mix of well known grapes as well as others that were a little less known. I even heard the waitress tell the table next to us, that if there was a wine they knew they liked, that she would be able to recommend something similar.
On the back of the wine list is an array of beers and soft drinks to choose from too, one of which states ‘guest ale’. Ryan enquired about the guest ale and after a little uncertainty, the waitress told him it was Ghost Ship. Knowing this ale is very popular in the county, we assumed it probably wasn’t the guest one, happy to drink it though, it was ordered anyway. Later on in the evening, the waitress came over and asked if we wanted any more drinks – it was then that she apologised, saying she was wrong earlier and the guest ale was actually an ale called Tribute. Ryan asked to try this ale, however when she brought it over, she in fact brought over another Ghost Ship. I think there was slight disappointment on my boyfriend’s half as a result of not being able to actually try the guest ale.
Apart from the ale mishap, the service at Cleone’s was good. We were pointed in the direction of our table when we first arrived – being shown to our seat might have been a little more personal, but it wasn’t too big of an issue as someone came to our table with a jug of table water, and to ask if we’d like any other drinks, shortly after. Each dish was brought to us promptly, but we weren’t checked on to see if all was okay during each course. We didn’t have any problems with the food to have to complain about, but if we had, we would have had to get the attention of someone while they were serving others to mention it.
As a hotel and restaurant, The Angel seemed quite busy when we first arrived, with people even sat outside drinking. When we went into the restaurant however (our reservation was for 7pm), it was relatively quiet, with only a couple of other tables being occupied. In the next half an hour to an hour though, the restaurant was full of excitable, hungry diners who all seemed to be enjoying their experience as much as we were. I always take a busy restaurant as a good sign of the quality of its food.
The pricing of dishes at Cleone’s is very reasonable. Starters are between £6 and £7 and, while mains are around £10 to £16 each, most sit at the lower end of this scale – with only the steak dish being at the upper. You do however have to pay for any vegetables you want on top of your main dish, which does add onto the cost a little. As the menu offers a lot of dishes (pastas and salads) as both starters and mains, those with a smaller appetite are likely able to order a smaller (starter sized) dish as a main, meaning less waste and a lower cost too.
Location and parking
Situated on the Throughfare, The Angel Hotel is in the very centre of Halesworth. It is very accessible by both car and by public transport – the train station is less than a 10 minute walk away. The hotel also has its own car park, with a public car park right next door if the premise’s is full.
My starter, the Crostini Piccione (seared pigeon breasts on toasted foccacia), was by far my favourite part of the meal. While the steak came close – because of the dish’s flavoursome red wine, mushroom and green peppercorn cream sauce – the rich gamey taste of the pigeon meant it came up top.
The food was very enjoyable and it was great to see a large selection of meat dishes on an Italian menu, as well as the usual pizza and pasta dishes.