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The Angel, Lavenham


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#1 g.johnson

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 11:13 AM

We couldn't be arsed to cook anything for Christmas so decided to take a break from the smell of paint and the threat of flooding and spend a few days in Lavenham. This is a well preserved medieval wool town and something of a gastronomic centre in Suffolk about 90 minutes from where we live. When I say well preserved, I mean "in an advanced state of decrepitude but still standing. Just".

 

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Lavenham is where I spent the summer of 1977 waiting to hear whether I'd been accepted for an MSc course in Aberdeen and working as an electricians mate (US: laborer) rewiring a housing estate (US: public housing). Some buildings on the estate still stand, surrounded by the burnt-out ruins of their neighbours.

 

We'd left it too late to get into the best restaurant, and I thought we were booking into the second best. But the dementia kicked in and we found ourselves in The Angel, the bucolic offshoot of Wheeler's, now run by Marco Pierre White. I'm quite glad we did. The rooms are nothing special, but perfectly adequate, though the floors slope so much that it is impossible to leave a glass on the bedside table (US: nightstand) without it sliding off. The management provide a team of sherpas to help guests to the bathroom. The place still operates as a pub -- drooling yokels were much in evidence -- and there is no separation between bar and restaurant but somehow it manages not to feel crowded. The tables are all a good size. The decor is weird. The walls are covered by Giles cartoons and prints from David Bailey's Box of Pinups. The tables could have been set by your granny, if your granny had a leather fetish. The cloths are giant lace doilies covering ripped leather hides. The water jugs are green fish pitchers.

 

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The food, however, is great. Nothing that will greatly surprise but very good ingredients cooked with a great deal of precision (but see below). The menu is distinctly French (croustade, forestiere, darne of salmon although, oddly, "Cambridge Burnt Cream") but  with very English ingredients (Morecombe bay shrimp, stilton, scotch salmon).

 

Highlights for us were an exceptionally light (almost frothy) duck liver parfait with raisin and Madeira jelly -- the best parfait I have ever had -- and a fine roast partridge which was overcooked initially but replaced immediately with a lovely pink version. Even the turkey for Christmas lunch was good -- boned and rolled to keep it moist with good versions of all the usual stuff.

 

Breakfasts were also good and Marco Pierre White's own beer, The Governor, named after his father's greyhound and brewed by J.W. Lees in Manchester went down a treat (not with breakfast).

 

Rooms are about ₤130, Christmas lunch was ₤65, the normal carte comes to about ₤30pp.


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#2 Suzanne F

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 03:17 PM

Miss you guys but love your reports.


I don't actually know what a handbasket is -- but whatever they are, singer-songwriters are in the first ones going to hell. -- Sneakeater, 29 March 2018 - 12:06 AM

 

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#3 SLBunge

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 05:08 PM

I really like the leaning house pictures.
Suffocating under a pile of cheese curds.

#4 foodie52

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 07:41 PM

It's nice to know about this. Seems like it's worth the trip, the next time I'm in Oxford.


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#5 splinky

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 08:03 PM

is marco in evidence there?

 

you really should have bought one of them crooked houses.


“One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no!', I said, 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.”
~Jack Handey

*proud descendant of cheese eating surrender monkeys*

 


#6 g.johnson

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 02:53 PM

is marco in evidence there?

 

you really should have bought one of them crooked houses.

Only in a Scarfe* caricature. 

 

We did think of buying somewhere in Lavenham but it's too far from Norwich for an easy commute.

 

*Husband of well known baker and author, Jane Asher.


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#7 yvonne johnson

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 04:29 PM

What I didn't expect on Xmas day was such a wide choice of courses. I think they said they had 85 covers, and after a fab Bisque of lobster served to all, there was a choice of six starters ranging from panache of foie gras and duck egg en brioche to beetroot plate to crevettes (for me)...and the Box Tree* duck liver parfait that we both drooled over. Mains included lemon sole Veronique, rump of lamb, Aberdeen angus beef, salmon as well as the traditional turkey. These were accompanied by five vegetables in little pots all of which were very good: swede puree; braised red cabbage; roast parsnips; Brussels sprouts, and roast potatoes.

 

Lastly 6 puddings including cheeses:

Fruit cake; souffle of raspberries; sherry trifle and others.

 

*Forgot White did a stint there. Flash back: I worked at a lovely mental health center-- it had an orchard-- in London soon after graduating and one of my colleagues went to the Box Tree with his family (would've been 1983-ish, no idea if that overlapped with White); he never shut up about it for a whole year.


It was not a new dish, as I recognised my tooth marks. Wilfrid

#8 foodie52

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 05:48 PM

I love the little pots idea. I guess it's because I love small portions. We ate at El Naranjo two nights ago (Iliana de la Vega) and the dessert (Tres Leches cake) came in a small mason jar: the kind with the hinged lid. Yes, it was kinda precious, but what saved it was its deliciousness and the fact that you can construct the cake in the jar , secure the lid and refrigerate until needed. Made sense to me.


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