Review: LEA from Maison Bleue, Bury St Edmunds: ‘One of the best takeaways we’ve ever had’
With eateries once again closed by lockdown, food reviewer Mark Heath and his wife Liz tried the LEA takeway offering from popular Suffolk restaurant Maison Bleue. Here’s what they made of it...
Ah, Lockdown 2, the worst sequel in the history of sequels. For the hospitality industry, just starting to get back on its feet after the first shutdown, it’s a hammer blow.
But, while many restaraunts and eateries are closed, many more are getting creative with their offerings as a way of staying open and, in many cases, staying afloat.
Step forward the massively popular and hugely respected Maison Bleue in Bury St Edmunds, and its owners Pascal and Karine Canevet, who have created and launched a new takeaway brand – LEA, food to go a la Francaise – during the pandemic.
Named after Pascal’s mother Lea, the concept is incredibly simple - five starters, five mains and five desserts, all at the same price, all available as takeaway, all continuing the Maison Bleue tradition of fine French food.
So, what’s it like? Firstly, the process. You can order your meal via the Maison Bleue website whenever you want, and say when you’d like to collect it. As an example, we ordered ours on a Tuesday, and asked to collect it at 4pm the coming Friday.
Then you head to the restaurant - face-masked and having used the hand gel provided at the door – to collect and pay. It really is that simple and, it has to be said, that it’s all rather fun. You get your wares in a lovely little LEA bag, with all the food packed inside high-quality glass jars which you can eat directly from.
Your server at the restaurant will give you heating instructions - ours was just two minutes in the microwave for both mains – and voila, as they say in France.
I felt like part of a cool and exclusive little club emerging from Maison Bleue with our treats all packed away in the fancy bag.
Anyway, to the eating. I started with smoked salmon and cucumber tzatziki, which was cracking. Great quality, meaty chunks of salmon with the most superb rich, smoky flavour, offset against the freshness of the cucumber and dill in the tzatziki.
Rather like a fine Islay single malt whisky, the smoky aftertaste from the salmon was a joy which stayed with me for a good few minutes after finishing the dish. Delicious.
Liz went for the black tiger prawn and taboulé salad, which was wonderfully fresh and zingy, with meaty sweetness from the prawns. The whole dish made you feel like you were pumping healthy vitamins and minerals directly into your body.
A fantastic start then, with the mains up next. They couldn’t have been easier to prepare - just stick the glass jar in the microwave for two minutes, pull the rubber tab around the seal to pop the lid, grab some cutlery and dig in!
Dig in we certainly did. I loved my chicken and mushroom pasta - a rich creamy sauce with hunks of meat and mushroom throughout, plus the added bonus of a goodly hit of parmesan. Given it had been microwaved, I was worried that perhaps the chicken would dry out or the pasta would wilt, but no such issues. A wonderful, tasty dish.
Liz, meanwhile, was tucking into the confit duck with potato and red cabbage. There was plenty of that classic Frenh duck to enjoy - again, not dried out by the microwaving process - plus welcome crunch, moisture and sweetness from the cabbage.
This is really good eating, made so simple by the takeaway concept. The only issue we had with the mains is that we both could have happily eaten twice as much - some will definitely find the portions small – but in the context of a three-course dinner, and for the price, it’s understandable.
Finally then, to dessert. I’d gone for the classic tiramisu, while Liz chose the chocolate mousse and salted butter caramel.
Continuing the theme of this review, these were cracking too. Both were rich, indulgent and packed with flavour, be it the deep, smooth chocolate mousse, or the coffee-infused goodness of the tiramisu, topped with cream.
After we’d finished our meals - and believe me, the jars were spotless - we both had the sense that we’d eaten incredibly well. Fine dining made simple, at home in Suffolk. Fantastic.
Those aforementioned glass jars are great, and many will add them to their kitchen tablewares with some degree of excitement.
But, collect 24 and return them to Maison Bleue, and you get a free main course!
Unbelievable. To get two three course meals of such quality for a total of £39.90 feels a little bit like robbery.
I’d be amazed if you could find similar value elsewhere in Suffolk or beyond.
Both our mains were a joy, in a meal packed with it.
When we return - and we definitely will – I suspect we’ll have the same again!
One of the best takeaways we’ve ever had. Fine dining at home made simple.
Our food reviews are always independent. They are the opinion of the reviewer based on their experience of the venue when they visited. The establishment is not aware of our visit, is not informed we intend to write a review and bills are paid by the reviewer. The choice of places reviewed is also independent and is not based on venues which do or do not advertise in our publications.
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