Brasserie Bleue at The White Lion
Review date: april 2015
On April 10 The White Lion in Aldeburgh launches Brasserie Bleue with which it aims to take its French inspired food to a new level. Adrian Rawlinson had a sneak preview to see what diners can expect
The White Lion in Aldeburgh has been a favoured destination for the Essential Suffolk team since its major refurbishment in 2011. The light airy Brasserie with restaurant views directly out to the beach and sea is a great place to relax be that for lunch, dinner or even breakfast after an overnight stay which we have previously recommended. Some restaurants we have reviewed can, for many, fall in to the ‘special occasion’ bracket with the prospect of a large bill at the end of the meal but the current Brasserie has always been priced at a point that makes it accessible whatever the occasion with us just as likely to grab an off the cuff light lunch as a formal evening out.
So, with a re-launch announced, we were curious about what changes we would see and headed to the coast to meet with Head Chef Ben Hegarty and Operations Manager Juliet Stone to find out more.
Initially we asked Juliet why the change?
“We constantly look at what we can do to improve the visitor experience for our guests. A lot of our customers are visitors coming to the town on holiday but many are regulars and it is important that we keep our offering fresh for them too. Ben, our Head Chef, has been with us for a year now and he has lots of ideas of where he wants to take our food offering – building on what customers already like about us - but also introducing new twists.”
Will we see big differences in the restaurant?
“The changes are not radical. We are not aiming to change the feel of the restaurant. It has always managed to balance feeling both cosy and at times ‘buzzy’ and our customers will still be able to enjoy this. We are making subtle improvements such as giving the team new uniforms and introducing new crockery and glassware echoing the ‘Bleu’ theme. Our new menus have a rustic earthy appearance again resonating with our French inspired food ethos.”
The White Lion has reputation for great customer service. Can you give me an example of any changes you are making to enhance this?
“Peter Osborne, our General Manager, is passionate about customer service and it’s something he has instilled into the whole team. We want to make the whole experience of coming to The White Lion as relaxed as possible and recognise that for those with families happy children makes for an enjoyable meal. In the past we have given family parties colouring for the kids to do but his year we are also introducing little beach buckets of Lego which we know can really keep small ones occupied. Again it is not a radical change but we hope something that adds to the overall customer experience.”
However good the customer-service the ultimate enjoyment of a meal out will come down to the quality of the food so we turned to our questions to Head Chef Ben for his view on the upcoming changes.
How will the menu change Ben?
“Like the restaurant we are not looking to make radical changes but to evolve and refresh the food we have become famous for with an exciting new French twist. My background is in two rosette fine dining and I want to bring some of that restaurant style to the Brasserie while still retaining our reputation for great value. I believe that people eat with their eyes first so I pay a lot of attention to how a dish looks. While there will be new dishes on the menu and daily specials we have retained our ever poplar Brasserie Classic dishes but again I have tried to take them to a higher level. I have created a tempting new prix fixe, with two courses for just £12 or three for £15, and a la carte menus”
Juliet told us about changes to help keep children entertained but what are the food options for children?
We offer a child’s menu but we’re also happy to offer child sized potions from our main menu. Smaller appetites shouldn’t mean a reduced choice.
Where do you source your ingredients?
I use finest ingredients that I can source including freshly caught fish and seafood from the East coast, mussels from the river Deben, free range meat from Halesworth and Dingley Dell Pork from nearby Woodbridge.
What is your food philosophy?
“I believe that attention to detail is crucial to getting the best end result. I try to make each ingredient the best it can be. An example is we slow roast our carrots and shallots before adding them to dishes as this really intensifies their flavour and elevates the final dish. Also small things like making sure that the skin is removed from our fish before it is battered makes a real difference. The skin isn’t really needed and it makes it much easier and enjoyable to eat. Aldeburgh is famous for its fish and chips and most probably every restaurant in town will serve it but I want ours to stand out and be remembered. Part of that will be down to how we prepare it and part will be how it is served.
When I’m devising a dish I also try to think about people with food intolerances and how I can adapt the dish if needed so I will always encourage anyone with a special need to ask. ”
Having finished talking to Juliet and Ben we had the chance to sample two new dishes. The proof as they say is in the pudding, or in this case in two mains, the previously mentioned fish and chips and from the Brasserie Classics section of the menu the braised beef chin bourguignon.
Ben was entirely right about the fish and chips standing out. It is said that to truly experience Aldeburgh this is a dish that should be eaten on the beach and now, with Ben’s theatrical twist as illustrated in the photo, it can be but from the comfort of the seagull free Brasserie.
The second dish paid testament to the preparation of ingredients that had been discussed. One of my bug bears is tasteless carrots so it was a real pleasure to sample the delicious pre slow roast ones contained within the bourguignon. A deep, rich, thoroughly satisfying dish with beautifully tender beef.
In conclusion for fans of the current Brasserie the planned changes aren’t anything that should concern you. The team have been very mindful of retaining all that is good and have only looked to enhance the experience. If you are yet to visit The White Lion you couldn’t choose a better time than now.
The Prix Fixe menu is available both for lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday. The a la carte menu lunch and dinner seven days a week.
To book a table at Brasserie Bleue at the White Lion call 01728 452720 or for more details visit
Families will be made very welcome.