EDitorial ± 17-Aug-2018

Light Lunches: Aldeburgh

Nobody said it was easy, this light lunch malarkey. Andy's original proposal back in 2007 AD was to have a Friday lunchtime bite to eat somewhere nearby -- Woodbridge, say -- then return to work. Quarter of an hour's travel there, solid hour at the cafe, quarter of an hour back, all comfortably wrapped up within 90 minutes. Everyone's happy.

Time passed, as Kurt Vonnegut predicted, and we'd ticked off everywhere within easy reach. That hour and a half became two hours as we ventured to Orford and Yoxford and even Darsham. Pushing it as we were, some places remained ever so slightly out of reach. What we should do, said Andy some years back, is take the afternoon off and "do" Aldeburgh. You know, see how many places we could visit in a half-day, say. I said, sure, and we did nothing about it. Until now.

With Kev sunning it on his last pre-Brexit holiday, time for yours truly to take some TOIL and meet Andy at Melton. Half-twelve, pleasantly warm and Aldeburgh awaits. Allons-y.

— Aldeburgh Cafe —

Sensibly keeping its distance from that crowded centre is the plainly named Aldeburgh Cafe. Andy does good work here every now and then as a Parkinson's cafe co-ordinator. Round the back by the garden centre and vintage shop, this is a no-nonsense venue with art for sale (by Susie Hammond) and much welcome outdoor seating among the jolly bunting.

Now gone 1pm and I'm hungry and drooling at the specials that include pork and chorizo pie or a fish finger sandwich. Pros that we are, we decide to resist all food options in favour of drinks. Fruit smoothie for Andy, milkshake for me. Surprise us with the flavours, we say to the smiling waitress, who duly does and presents our choices in glasses like old milk bottles. Ah. That shake turns out to be fairly filling.

— Aldeburgh Market —

Parking the car outside town, we swap four wheels for two and pedal past Maggie's Scallop and into the hurly-burly of the high street. Andy finds handy Sheffield bars right outside Aldeburgh Market. Taking a table, I'm concerned that this place more resembles a restaurant than a cafe, bit like Darsham Nurseries. No sign of being open in the evening so we'll let it go.

Blackboard here is pushing the (£14.75) half lobster salad with new pots or the (£12.95) salmon fillet on beetroot. Not a bacon roll in sight. Further up and more affordable are the (£6.75) sardine fillets with poorly spelt remalade (sic), very very nice indeed, while Andy's the shaky fish soup, also darn fine. Bit upmarket in here. Carafe of water cost us nothing. Welcoming, too.

— Munchies —

Search TripAdvisor for "Aldeburgh cafe" and you'll see mention of East Coast. That occupies the old Cafe 152 site opposite the Peter Pears gallery. A stroll outside revealed EC to be a "restaurant - bar - cafe - store", i.e. definitely outside our guidelines. Over the road, then, to Munchies.

Their sizeable lower-case green menu boasts breakfast baps, fry-ups, burgers and paninis galore. Handwritten insert offers gazpacho or vegan cous-cous provencale, natch. None of that for us, however. Seeing it as an in-house speciality, we both order tea. Jasmine for him, lapsang for me, both high on the odours and working well to keep the wasps away. Quality glass pots, branded tea-cups and a free Lotus biscuit too. Sweet.

— Chopping's Hill —

Time out to buy a postcard and take in some local art at the set-back baptist church. Inside the pews are covered with prints by Theronda Hoffman who promptly introduces herself to us: I'm the artist! Hi, I say. I pass your place -- Kesgrave Arts -- every day on the way to work. Nice chat and a bit of culture while we let our enzymes get to work.

Gotta get back on the saddle so it's chop-chop to Chopping's Hill. Plenty of breakfast and brunch options here, some previously sampled by Andy, but we're here to satisfy our sweet tooths. Some highly tempting goodies are staring straight at us. He can't resist the salted caramel slice while I'm a sucker for a slab of white (!) rocky road. Table outside by the dog bowl, another jug of lukewarm water -- ain't there any ice in this freakin' town? -- and we get stuck in to our sugary offerings. Thanked by not one but two dog owners for allowing their pets to take a drink.

— Cragg Sisters —

Approaching 4:30pm and some shop doors are beginning to close. Not the case, though, for Cragg Sisters, definitely the most traditional place on today's list. Once again we're lucky to land a table outside within a pebble's throw of that beach. Cream tea? I suggest.

Cafe numero five and finally it's coffee time, thank goodness. Cafetiere for two, ta very much, and may I borrow your pen to write my card? Oh, and a piece of coffee and walnut to share, please. Much-needed jolt to the system but no idea what was in our tiny minds, ordering that cake. While other punters struggled with small flying things, those bugs didn't dare come near us for fear of the fatty calories pumping through our bloodstreams.

Concluded that a hardcore cafe crawl is a pretty fine way to spend a sunny afternoon especially by the seaside. Felt good to get back on the saddle and take an unnecessarily long diversion by the martello tower and posh Park Road back to the motor. Five caffs visited and tried out. May return at some future time for the umpteen ice cream parlours.