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The French inspired Chocolate Teapot bistro in Aldeburgh

Charcuterie sharing board at The Chocolate Teapot in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BOND
Charcuterie sharing board at The Chocolate Teapot in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BOND

After a bracing walk along Aldeburgh beach, fighting a blasting wind and swooping seagulls, ankle deep shingle stones flexing every bit of our calf muscles, and invigorating North Sea waves lapping at our toes, arriving at The Chocolate Teapot bistro is one of the most welcome delights imaginable.

With its frontage on the high street facing the town steps, this little café is in the heart of town, with welcoming tables and chairs set out on the pavement for those who might like to watch the world go by. Inside, tables are laid out with posies of flowers and shelves display homemade cakes and vintage china.

Great British Life: Watch the world go by at The Chocolate Teapot in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BONDWatch the world go by at The Chocolate Teapot in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BOND

The back of the café feels far more secluded. The hustle and bustle of the high street recedes and, if the day is clement, you can sit out in a small, wonderfully sheltered courtyard that faces toward the sea. Colourful umbrellas give a little shade from the sun and cushions adorn the seats. Water pistols are even provided in the event of a sudden seagull attack. It feels rather like you're tucked away in a cosy English garden by the sea... with some excellent refreshments at hand.

Semi-retired mental health nurse Sarah Ray, and her photographer daughter Lucy, are the talented, friendly and inspiring team that run The Chocolate Teapot. With their family roots in Luxembourg, they spent time there and in France visiting the wonderful chocolate houses; dunking creamy chocolate blocks into warm milk, savouring macarons, and sipping Crémant de Luxembourg, a locally made sparkling wine. These were the seeds of inspiration for what was to come.

Great British Life: Dressed Crab salad at The Chocolate Teapot in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BONDDressed Crab salad at The Chocolate Teapot in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BOND

When lockdown hit the photography industry hard, Lucy decided to go back to what she knew and loved – hospitality. Sarah had been recreating some of the goodies they had sampled on their travels and throwing vintage tea parties at home. When the café became available in autumn 2021 for the winter, the family decided it was too good an opportunity to miss; the skills of the mother and daughter team complemented each other perfectly and The Chocolate Teapot was born.

What started as a winter pop-up serving proper hot chocolate and homemade goodies to local residents and holiday makers seeking shelter after beach walks battling blustery winds off the North Sea, has blossomed into a year-round gem of a bistro. Serving everything from locally sourced and expertly cooked brunches and sausage rolls (crafted by Lucy’s husband Nick) to afternoon teas, cakes, macarons and sparkling Crémant, the offering has evolved into a treasure trove of beautifully made, locally sourced, properly done delights.

Great British Life: More than just a teashop...The Chocolate Teapot bistro in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BONDMore than just a teashop...The Chocolate Teapot bistro in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BOND

We visited The Chocolate Teapot as a family at lunch time one weekend in early summer, taking our (always hungry) 13- and 12-year-olds with us. The menu is written out on a large board in the main café, so we took a picture and settled ourselves outside in the courtyard to have a good look. It's the kind of menu that makes it hard to choose; each of us found several goodies we could have enjoyed. What is lovely is that there is no need for a children’s menu. The main board features a range of smaller and larger dishes, with simple and more exotic choices offering something for everyone, no matter what their appetite and preferences. Gluten-free, vegan, and dairy-free can be catered for as well.

Finally settling on our choices, Mr P went for an all-day brunch with bacon from the lovely butcher over the road at Salter & King, perfectly poached eggs, fresh sourdough from Woodbridge based Harvey & Co and grilled tomatoes, all beautifully presented and perfectly seasoned. It didn’t disappoint.

Great British Life: Smoked salmon on sourdough brunch at The Chocolate Teapot in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BONDSmoked salmon on sourdough brunch at The Chocolate Teapot in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BOND

Inspired by a recent trip to France, the children chose ham and cheese filled warm flaky croissants, toasties, and sausage rolls (yes, all three!), with crisps, salad and ice-cold drinks. Completely torn myself, in the end I went for the homemade quiche and coleslaw, served with fresh salad. Quiche is a tricky one to get right, but there was no soggy bottom in sight, it was well seasoned, creamy, cheesy and stuffed with asparagus and salmon. The salads were delicious, well dressed, fresh and crunchy.

We couldn’t resist some sweet treats for pudding and, of course, had to try the infamous Hilton Macarons made in Framlingham (to die for), homemade gluten-free lemon drizzle (tangy and juicy), hot chocolates for the children (eyes glowing with delight) and coffee for Mr P (spot on). I even enjoyed a pot of proper tea.

As we sat and watched the lunch time bustle ebb and flow, afternoon tea began to be served. This is taken very seriously at The Chocolate Teapot; Sarah and Lucy wanted to make it a truly luxurious experience for their customers. It includes freshly made sandwiches, savoury pastries, scones with local jam and clotted cream, sweet treats and a glass of Crémant to wash it down. You can book in advance, which is perfect for planning a treat for a special occasion.

Great British Life: The family team at The Chocolate Teapot in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BONDThe family team at The Chocolate Teapot in Aldeburgh. Photo: CHARLOTTE BOND

During the quieter winter months, the café started offering pop-up set menu suppers once a fortnight, which have been hugely popular and are continuing through the year. Plans are afoot to introduce a new cocktail menu, early evening platters, wines and a plat du jour.

The Chocolate Teapot is going from strength to strength, supporting the local community through using the beautiful produce that Suffolk has to offer and providing year-round service for visitors and residents alike. I would thoroughly recommend a visit to this friendly, delightful bistro.

chocolateteapot.co.uk



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