Review: The Brudenell in Aldeburgh

The Brudenell, Aldeburgh

The Brudenell, Aldeburgh - Credit: Archant

Claire Holmes heads to The Brudenell in Aldeburgh to try out the restaurant’s new seafood and grill menu

I love fish. I mean, I really love it. Whether it’s a plate of fresh, juicy prawns, crispy squid, melt-in-your-mouth bream, glazed tuna steaks or soft and succulent salmon, I’ll soon be drooling over it. In fact, I’m already getting hungry just writing this.

My partner, on the other hand, is a carnivore through and through and just adores meat. Cook him a luscious hamburger or a hearty steak and you will be his best friend for months.

As you can imagine, this can sometimes lead to debates in our kitchen – especially when I fancy a light salmon supper and he’d prefer a meaty cottage pie.

So, when we heard that The Brudenell in Aldeburgh was launching a new seafood and grill menu, we couldn’t wait to try the different dishes and both indulge in our own favourite ingredients.

The menu is being officially launched next Friday, May 23 but luckily the team at the boutique hotel and restaurant were more than happy to let us try some items from the menu before this date.

The hotel is part of the TA Hotel Collection which also includes the likes of The White Lion in Aldeburgh, The Crown in Woodbridge and The Swan in Lavenham.

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Its new menu is part of a series of changes at The Brudenell which have seen Peter Osborne (who is also general manager at The White Lion) take over the day-to-day running of the business, a new outside bar installed on the terrace and a mini refurbishment in the restaurant.

I have to admit, I’d not visited The Brudenell before, but both Steve and I were impressed with the location and setting of the stylish eatery and friendliness of the staff. Kairi, the restaurant manager, welcomed us with open arms and made us feel right at home, as did the rest of the staff.

The building, which is located at the far end of Aldeburgh High Street and backs onto the seafront, is a smart looking place – with huge windows and stunning interior features.

The restaurant area is decked in an array of blue tones, and has a subtle coastal scene running throughout. It’s a welcoming space and has lots of different seating options – with a bar area, comfortable lounge chairs and room for larger parties too.

It also overlooks a terrace area – which I imagine must be packed throughout the summer season – and has beautiful views of the sea.

With such views it makes sense that seafood and fish take centre stage in the restaurant and head chef James Barber works closely with local suppliers and fishermen to source the very best sustainable items that he can find.

We were blown away with the offerings on the menu which contains a lot of choices, from appetisers and starters to shellfish dishes, seafood, vegetarian options and, of course, the meat and grill section.

If we had been feeling greedy, we would have certainly started with some nibbles from the galley section, which includes choices such as in-house pickled herrings, cockles, smoked mackerel pate, Harwich crab meat and Pinney’s smoked shell on prawns, but as it was, we jumped straight into the starters.

These options nicely marry together the themes of the main menu, with both meat and fish-based dishes available.

Among the starters we saw sautéed tiger prawns, butterflied sardines, shellfish bisque, Lane Farm charcuterie and potted Gressingham duck and Dingley dell pork.

I chose the marinated squid and Suffolk chorizo dish which came with a roquette, caper berry and red onion salad, while my partner ordered the cold and hot smoked salmon, which was served with caper berries, a handful of salad leaves and a piece of homemade bread.

Steve – who’s not always known to be the most forthcoming with compliments – said his salmon was possibly the best he’d ever tasted and particularly enjoyed the hot smoked salmon, which was soft and succulent and melted in the mouth.

My squid and chorizo salad was also delicious.

Fresh squid and spicy chorizo is a combination that works on many levels and the Brudenell’s dish made the most of this mixture of flavours. The locally sourced chorizo had just the right heat to it and the delicate, marinated squid was the ideal texture too - not that horrible rubbery consistency that you can sometimes find with squid.

And then it was on to the main course.

The fish offerings are extensive here and I found it well-nigh impossible to make a decision.

Under the shellfish heading, there were moules mariniere, Harwich lobster and Aldeburgh crab – plus the option to order a classic fruit de mer dish to share – while the seafood and whole fish section had options such as shellfish linguine with grilled razor clams, cherry tomatoes and parsley, grilled lemon sole with shrimp butter, green beans and new potatoes, and smoked haddock fish pie with wild garlic, spinach and seasonal vegetables.

For those that prefer meat, there are options galore too.

Choose from delights such as the ever popular chargrilled 10z rib-eye steak, a beef burger with smoked bacon and cheddar cheese, the saddle of lamb with curly kale, wild rice, glazed shallots, tomato and basil jus, the Suffolk chicken breast with wild garlic and herb gnocchi or the duo of Gressingham duck.

A few vegetarian options have also been thrown in for good measure.

My partner only had to look at the menu for a few seconds before deciding on the steak, while my decision took much more deliberation.

In the end the roasted Aldeburgh skate wing swung it for me.

When it arrived I wasn’t disappointed. The Brudenell is not the sort of place where you go home hungry and my eyes opened wide as I was served a large piece of skate, with a shaved fennel and roquette salad, new potatoes and wild garlic pesto on a huge plate.

I couldn’t help but wonder how I was going to eat it all. One mouthful though, and all my concerns disappeared.

The food was wonderful – my skate was soft and sumptuous and tasted heavenly with the other ingredients on the plate, including the strong but delicate garlic pesto.

My partner’s steak certainly did the job too. Cooked to his medium-rare specification, it was tender, juicy, soft and flavoursome – all those things that make a good steak.

He also really enjoyed the choron sauce that accompanied the meat. This is a variation on the traditional bearnaise sauce, with a drop of tomato puree, and is definitely worth trying.

Of course, no dinner is complete without dessert and – despite feeling full – we eagerly eyed the pudding menu.

There’s plenty here – sherry trifle, sticky toffee pudding, lemon and lime posset, vanilla cheesecake, Parravani sloe gin and damson ice cream and more.

Steve’s homemade profiteroles with Chantilly cream were really decadent and the sticky, goey dark chocolate glaze was heavenly.

My rosewater creme brulee was tasty and delicate, and the refreshing lychee sorbet was a nice end to the meal. The popping candy on the side was a playful touch too.

In summary, this new menu is definitely one to try.

Prices are reasonable and as you would expect in Aldeburgh, with most main dishes ranging from about £12 to £20.

As a big fish lover, I can’t wait to come back and sample more of the options in the main menu – and, because of the meat and grill offerings, I know I won’t have a problem enticing my partner to come with me.