To get the best of eating at the Brudenell Hotel Aldeburgh, you need daylight and either a table on the terrace or one inside with a sea view. However, as we found out a week or two ago, its Seafood & Grill has a pleasant, comfortable feeling about it on a blustery rainy autumn evening. Of the four-headed SuffolkEater group, two are quite regular lunchers or diners here, and for the other pair this was a first visit.
It is well organised. The young female staff are welcoming and efficient. The ambience is that of a fairly modern Bistro with well-spaced tables and seating which offers separate areas for, say, families wanting to be away from couples and mature foursomes (and vice versa, of course).
As you would expect. the menu is predominantly fish and sea-food. Those with a good appetite may order pre-starters of marinated olives (£3.00), a basket of home-made breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (£3.00 ), or pitta bread with hummus and tsatsiki (£4.00).
There are 12 “Starters and Light Bites”, of which seven may be had as a main course. The selection is wide: several of fish or shell-fish, goat’s cheese, charcuterie, Mediterranean vegetables, Caesar salad, potted duck and “Rich Shellfish Bisque”. Prices average around £7.00. Three of us decided to sup the bisque. This had been made from a good shell-fishy stock and came with a dollop of Rouille on the side, to swirl in à la Marseillaise. We all enjoyed this, but… and it is an important “but”: the soup was not hot when it arrived at the table. Our fourth diner ordered Sautéed Tiger Prawns with garlic butter, lemon and focaccia (£7.00): six good prawns and garlicky dipping butter, plus excellent but insufficient bread.
These are the four main dishes we chose, and what we thought about them. (1) Main course Caesar Salad with extra chicken and a side of fries (£15). Well put together and presented, all eaten up like a good boy. (2) “Real Scampi” with tartar sauce and fries (£15.00). “Amazing…. Haven’t seen proper scampi like this for years….just like Dublin Bay Prawns of long ago”); (3) Catch of the Day, plaice. (“Fresh, delicious and nicely turned in a pan with no excess butter”); (4) Wild scallops baked in their shells, garlic butter, parsley and breadcrumbs (£8.00 “There were five or six small scallops resting on shells with butter but not much in the way of garlic, parsley or breadcrumbs. Scallops didn’t look baked, but tasted fairly good”).
No vegetables, apart from fries were served or offered. Although some dishes were served on wooden platters, presentation was minimal and not as appetising is it could be. “Not a lot of creativity in the kitchen” was one comment, “Competent but not exciting”.
We didn’t take up the puddings on offer, which include various ice-cream desserts, sticky toffee pudding and cheesecake. Cheese, too, if you wish. All at £7.00. Three of us had coffee, which came with a chocolate truffle each. We drink sparkling water and four glasses of wine. For this, with 15% (voluntary) tip we paid £150.00.
Rating (5* = Maximum) Service: **** Ambience **** Food *** Value-for-money *** Summing up: We were not overwhelmed, but it is, nevertheless, among the better local places to take visiting friends or family.
Seafood & Grill at the Brudenell Hotel, The Parade, Aldeburgh, IP15 5BU. Tel: 01728 452071 Open every day, lunch and dinner. Reservation advised. Disabled access.
“SuffolkEater” comprises four food loving people of wide experience who dine anonymously in local eating places, pay for the meal and depart anonymously.