Hoovering: Suffolk eating

steakMy partner Mikey and I ran away for a weekend alone. Well, we drove. One friend assumed we must be trying for another baby. What a joker. Had she not realised what we were running from?

Also, the baby we’ve already got has only just grown hair. You can’t get a new one until the old one’s got hair, right? Christ. He can’t even talk yet, apart from saying “uh oh”. To be fair to him, that is my nickname. Anyway, just to confuse this friend, we both came back from our trip suspiciously fatter.

This break was for sleeping and eating. Hence, we didn’t go far. Just a few hours east from home for us is Aldeburgh in Suffolk. We were told it was beautiful and it was, even in the winter glump.

It’s posh, no doubt about it. There’s a long, stony beach with arty bits and bollocks all over it. There’s a titchy independent cinema which lit my soul and a row of all the shops for my mum. They sell Le Creuset egg cups or chunky socks. Those ones. They’re not for me.

I do like the washing-yourself-stuff shops where they squirt something in your bag so you can sniff it all day and feel like you’re inhaling special gas made of juniper and cash. But I’m not into the rest. I’m not into shopping. Unless it’s for food. And there were no shortage of options for places to eat.

We had lovely breakfast in our B&B. I can’t tell you about those though because breakfast ended at 9am each day, so we arrived with half an eye open each at 8.59. It’s impossible to remember what was real eggs and what was dream.

crab cakesOn the Saturday night, however, we did some memorably lovely hoovering. That afternoon we chose a place pretty much on the beachfront called East Coast and booked. Once we arrived there was only one other table in. I’m from an English seaside town though and I know, out of season, that’s par for the course. I felt for them; it’s a tough business to make work.

It was lovely in there, cosy and relaxed but very modern feeling. There were glorious smells everywhere, to boot.

The other table was home to a local dickwad who kept shouting about how crab cakes “are all too often all cake, no bloody crab.” He even beckoned the waiter over to say, “Right, these ‘crab’ cakes. How much crab is actually in there?” Like the chef ought to have a handy graph.

We nearly both ordered crab cakes then and there. Mikey did. I hadn’t had steak for ages and ages. About three times a year my heart screams for the iron and savagery of it. So I had that. Both meals were totally off the hook, made completely without pomp, just with care and gloriously strong ingredients.

The steak was huge. It had a giant slab of garlicky butter on its roof which melted more slowly than the steak itself did when I wolfed it. With salad and crisp, fresh little chips it was one of those meals where each mouthful made me feel like I’d somehow achieved something. It made a very happy, sated animal of me.

Mikey’s crab cakes were full to the brim with gorgeous brown crabmeat, herbs and a bit of citrus. A festival of flavours that relationship-wise, will never ever break up. When you eat fresh crab, so close to the sea as well, that’s magic.

We decided to smash some pudding as well. It was a holiday, after all. I had the cheese board which was a brilliantly intense adventure. From a crystalline power-cheddar that made even my teeth rave, to a local goat’s cheese which was creamier than my inner arms in winter. Oh, it was so good.

There was a really light blue as well, just being a lovely background dancer for once, memorable for its rare humility. I lost my bit of paper with their names on but they will stay in my thoughts forever, making my tongue bead with glee on each recalling.

Mikey had the apple and cherry crumble with crème anglais. What a cheerful thing! Sweet, sexy cherries with tangy apple and what is essentially cement-thick cream. You can’t go wrong and they didn’t. It was like being enveloped in an enormous hug, when you’re stood next to a fire, while a cat rubs past your leg, in the new knowledge of some good news – in a ramekin.

crumbleThe mains were all roughly £15-£20 and the average starter or pudding about £6. Reasonable prices for exceptional food. And the staff were so keen and kind, even in the face of some local crab-snobbery. I wish this place so well, and if you’re passing I implore you to give it a whirl.

East Coast Bar | Restaurant | Café, 152 Aldeburgh High St, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, IP15 5AQ
Tel: 01728 454 524
Website: eastcoastcafeandstore.com
Accessible: Yes. There are a few very shallow steps that would be manageable with most wheelchairs and there’s an accessible toilet.

Catch up with Jess’s previous Hooverings here.