Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Great House, Lavenham, Suffolk 30th April 2011

We visited The Great House Restaurant the day after eating at Maison Bleue. The restaurant is situated in the tiny village of Lavenham where most of the buildings have been around for six hundred years. The Great House is a hotel as well as a restaurant.

At first, we saw nothing familiar about the interior of the restaurant. However, it slowly dawned on us that The Great House shared some similarities with Maison Bleue. Both restaurants have very similar abstract paintings on its walls.  Both restaurants also had very similar flowers on its tables. My brother then pointed out that The Great House served the same bread as Maison Bleue. Our waiter then explained that the same company runs both The Great House and Maison Bleue. The staff at The Great House was a lot friendlier than those at Maison Bleue though.

For starters, my mum went for the tuna and mackerel sushi with olive oil, lemon juice and sesame seeds. It was a very delicate dish and the fish was not overpowered by the lemon flavour. My brother had a ballotine of foie gras marinated with Port and served with grilled brioche. My brother thought the flavours complimented each other well and the presentation of the dish was exceptional. I had saddle of rabbit for my starter, which I enjoyed immensely. My dad’s choice of carpaccio of veal with lemon juice and Parmesan cheese was inspired. The meat was incredibly thin and just melted in the mouth. We were all impressed by the quality of the starters.

For main course, I had rack of English lamb with rosemary sauce. The meat was beautifully cooked but the rosemary sauce was perhaps just a tad too subtle. The rest of my family had the venison with red wine, mustard and cranberry sauce. The venison was by far the star of the show.  It was cooked to perfection and packed a strong flavour. 

For dessert, my mum opted for a selection of Suffolk cheeses from the cheeseboard. All the cheeses she chose were very strong in flavour and aroma. I am not one to judge cheese, as I have a dislike for the strong ones, but my brother and dad both agreed that these cheeses were very good. I had an apple tarte tatin with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. The tarte was gorgeous. The apples weren’t too sharp, but had enough tang to balance the sticky caramel sauce. The ice cream gave it a bit more moisture. My dad and brother both had the orange tian, which was a shortbread biscuit topped with marmalade and fresh orange segments. Both thought it was a good dessert, although my brother more so than my dad. All the desserts came with small sugar-crafted objects, which my dad thought were a bit too sharp and uncomfortable to eat. 


Food quality 8/10
Service 8/10
Ambience 8/10
Presentation 8/10
Value for money 8/10


An overall better experience than Maison Bleue, with friendlier staff, better food and better value for money. The waiters and waitresses coped brilliantly with the annoying wooden beam hanging from the low roof, and the manager, who was amiable and amusing, charmed us. We would definitely go again in the future.

Author - CT (13)

Photography - LT (15) and DT (40) 

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Maison Bleue Restaurant, 29th April 2011

Maison Bleue is situated on a quiet street in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The restaurant is French (as you might have guessed from its name) and it is quite easily distinguishable from its neighbouring buildings by the small blue awning above its front door. The interior was more modern than most of the surrounding buildings with no wooden beams protruding from the walls and ceiling.

The service was efficient rather than outstanding.   We did not have to wait long for our starters. My dad insisted on trying the fish soup, which was on the a la carte rather than the set menu. He had expected something similar to seafood chowder and was therefore somewhat disappointed to find that it was not so. The soup was presented with cheese, croutons and some sort of mayonnaise on the side. The flavours were very ordinary and none of the sides really made much of an impact. My brother had opted for a tuna carpaccio with soy sauce, ginger and wasabi, which sounded a lot like sashimi. The soy sauce flavour stood out but there was no point in which the wasabi could be tasted. This dish though was very well presented.  My swordfish was rather untidy and was a tad over seasoned. The soft fish complimented the crunch of the vegetables well. My mum had mackerel on a bed of courgettes, shallots and coriander.  The mackerel was competently cooked and Mum declared that she enjoyed her starter.

For main course, I had roasted Dingley Dell pork, which came with leek, mash and purple carrot. The pork was well cooked, although it lacked a bit of flavour. My brother had sea trout with homemade egg tagliatelle and sorrel sauce, which he enjoyed. My dad ordered the gilt head bream with olive tapenade. It was a flavoursome dish with the fish being cooked precisely. My mum had grey mullet marinated with lemon and thyme and served with a pesto dressing. She said it was cooked well and the tang of the lemon balanced the fish flavours perfectly. There was a clear improvement from the starters. 

Dessert was probably the best course of the night. My mum had a strawberry tart, which was served strangely as a shortbread biscuit. The shortbread was divinely textured, and was not too sugary. My brother’s dessert was a chocolate cylinder with ginger mousse and a chocolate-based biscuit. He found it rather average, as he would have liked to have tasted a stronger ginger flavour. My dad and I both went for the lemon and rhubarb tart. This was an outstanding dessert with the rhubarb coulis balancing the sweet and sharp flavours incredibly well. The consistency was just right with the top lemon layer being luxuriously smooth.

Food Quality 7/10
Presentation 7/10
Ambience 8/10
Service 7/10
Value for money 7/10


Despite being slightly let down by the starters, the overall experience was certainly not bad by any standards and I would definitely go back if the lemon and rhubarb tart was still on the menu.

Author - CT (13)

Photography - LT (15) and DT (40)