I read with interest a review for The White Lion where the general opnion was of surprise at just how many positive reviews this restaurant gets. I totally agree. Either I am missing something or we must have visited on an 'off day' or when the amazing staff that others refer to were on leave.
We were looking for a Sunday lunch venue during our stay in Aldeburgh and decided to opt for The White Lion based on these positive reviews.
We were seated in a large booth back in the main restaurant (no views out to the sea-front), which was a bit of a shame, despite there being empty tables in the front section that overlooked the sea. My advice would be to specifically request a table which gives you a better view otherwise you may aswell be sitting in any old restaurant miles away from the sea.
Immediately we were asked for our drinks. I asked for a bottle of wine with a glass of lemonade for the adults and a mineral water for my daughter. The waitress then took our food orders from the 3 course lunch menu but oddly then decided to try and persuade us to partake in olives/nibbles aswell, even though these are not on the lunch menu. It just felt a little pushy, and unnecessary, so we declined. Drinks then arrived at the table, however, I noticed instead of a glass of lemonade we had been given a huge pint of lemonade and a large (750ml) bottle of mineral water! In other words, upping how much we would have to spend. I pointed out we only wanted a small bottle or glass of mineral water and that the waitress did not point out when my daughter wanted a mineral water that it would be a large bottle. He informed me they only do large bottles (How convenient for them!) so I sent it back and asked for a glass of tap water instead. We decided to keep the pint of lemonade, although I was not best pleased that they had automatically provided a large option to us. Lets face it, it's pretty unusual to actually want a pint of lemonade.
My starter of chicken, blue cheese salad arrived very quickly and looked a good portion although mainly lettuce with only a few small pieces of fairly dry chicken. As soon as I finished my last bite the waitress practically pounced upon our table and cleared away. I barely had chance to swallow my last mouthful before the roast mains were produced. Suddenly I felt like I was in some sort of race rather than enjoying a lovely, relaxing sunday lunch as hoped.
Firstly we noticed a huge yorkshire pudding, which dominated the plate, sadly the rest of the portion did not appear as generous. I had 3 very thin, small slices of pork. It would have taken some skill to cut it so wafer thin! The crackling that came with the roast was about 1cm by 4 cm in size and coated in salt making it impossible to eat without my tongue stinging. My friend stated her beef was pretty good although we were all disappointed with the less than crispy potatoes, and the equally small and soggy parnsips. The best part for me was the sauce/gravy. That was delicious, but sadly a sauce even that good could not save the meal for me.
Once again, the plates were whipped away from us and barely a moment went by before the pudding menus were shoved into our hands and within moments our orders were placed. I was verging on indigestion it felt so rushed.
Pudding portions were almost laughable. My daughters panna cotta was tiny! Not much bigger than the raspberry placed next to it. I noticed ice-cream being taken to other tables and they were also one simple scoop with a thin wafer sticking out.
We asked for the bill and we were annoyed to see that despite sending back the large bottle of water it still appeared on our bill (£3.95!). This was removed.
If you are looking for a relaxing unrushed sunday lunch, look elsewhere. From the time we were seated to getting through 3 courses and paying the bill was a super speedy ONE HOUR!!! I have had more leisurely work lunch breaks than that.
Overall, sadly average food with very hurried service. And be careful you are very clear when ordering drinks with your meal regarding sizes required or they will just assume and provide the largest option.
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