'Tis the season to be jolly, joyous and overindulge! And where better to do it than on The Suffolk Coast. If you're looking for somewhere to tuck into delicious, locally sourced festive food, then these restaurants will certainly deliver!
Pubs and restaurants the length and breadth of the Suffolk Coast offer up their opulent and indulgent menus; inviting you in from the cold to savour festive flavours and a celebratory atmosphere.
1. The Alex Cafe Bar & Brasserie
With fantastic panoramic views of Felixstowe’s beach, the principality of Sealand, and one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, The Alex Brasserie is a must visit venue at any time of the year. But this Christmas, the laid back and trendy establishment has even more to offer, with a brand new festive menu available from 29th November to 24th December, with a 2 or 3 course menu available for parties of 2 to 80 people!
If you visit on Friday 13th, Saturday 14th, Friday 20th or Saturday 21st December, Alex’s will be hosting DJs in the Café Bar from 9pm to keep the Christmas cheer soaring. The menu includes a traditional turkey dinner piled high with all the trimmings, including fig and walnut stuffing, chestnuts, sticky red cabbage, pigs in blankets and more. You can also opt for the slow roast beef brisket with a yorkshire pudding, wholegrain mustard mash, braised onion and red wine gravy.
Starters include a vegan wild mushroom & sherry fricassée on brioche and an unusual five spiced crispy whitebait with a sweet & sour dip. Indulge in pudding too with a choice of many desserts for the sweet toothed amongst us, including eggnog crème brûlée with vanilla shortbread and poached quince tart tatin and mulled wine ice cream.
2. Allen Gardiner River Cruise Restaurant & Lady Florence
You can’t get much more adventurous than a Christmas party meal aboard a boat! The Allen Gardiner in Ipswich was built in Miami, Florida in 1942 and has plenty of space on deck, as well as a cosy wood burner inside to stay nice and warm during your enchanting cruise on the river Orwell.
The Allen Gardiner has a sister ship, The Lady Florence, at Orford, which takes trips along the rivers Alde and Ore, with up to 12 passengers sat comfortably in the warm and serene saloon of the boat. When you choose to dine aboard either vessel your meal includes a 3-hour river cruise so your party can relax and take in the ever-changing scenery as you enjoy a lovingly prepared meal.
The menus are diverse in content with options such as goat’s cheese and beetroot carpaccio, Scottish smoked salmon and P.O.S.H prawn cocktail to start, followed by fillet of fresh fish of the day with pesto cream sauce, a hearty steak, venison and mushroom pie or honey baked Suffolk ham with gravy. To end the meal, take your choice from a sumptuous menu of puddings including loganberry an apple crumble, salted caramel cheesecake and the intense triple chocolate brownie. There’s even a thoughtfully curated cheese menu so sit back, relax and while away the time as you drift along.
3. The Brudenell
For more bracing seaside walks visit the charming town of Aldeburgh and The Brudenell Hotel and restaurant where relaxation and calm abound. As well as the special festive menu available from 28th November to 23rd December, the restaurant is open on Christmas Eve and Christmas day for diners who wish to indulge.
The festive menu places a special emphasis on seafood so take your pick from delicious smoked mackerel pate with potato salad, wholegrain mustard and watercress, pan fried sea bass, Jerusalem artichoke purée, wild mushrooms, salsify & spiced red wine or hearty roast cod, winter vegetable ratatouille, white beans and crispy kale. In addition the menu boasts a selection of wonderfully spiced seasonal desserts such a cinnamon panna cotta with spiced blackberry and ginger shortbread and chocolate & orange set chocolate custard, chocolate crumb, orange compote and orange sorbet.
4. Cafe Bencotto
Situated in what was once Felixstowe’s old fire station, Café Bencotto is a sympathetically restored and decorated café offering and range of menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner all influenced by the flavours of Greece, Spain, Italy and North Africa. Sitting amongst the comfy leather sofas, gilt mirrors and exposed brickwork you can even view the chefs in the open kitchen busily preparing your meal.
The Christmas menu includes festive food with a Mediterranean spin; choose from starters such as aubergine and courgette parmigiana, prawn and chorizo skewer or smoked duck breast, orange and hazelnut salad. The choice of main meals is vast and varied; perfect for anyone seeking something a little different from the usual festive flavours. Options include tuna steak on conchiglie pasta, with lemon and basil sauce, pork rib eye steak with peppercorn sauce, paella with chicken, chorizo and seafood, and spiced lamb and feta calzone.
For the perfect end to your meal choose from the range of desserts including chocolate and hazelnut panettone pudding with chocolate sauce, honey roasted figs, warm rice pudding and toasted almonds, and lemon affogato, sorbet, limoncello and amaretti.
5. The Dolphin Inn
The Dolphin Inn has developed a reputation for producing high quality modern British cuisine and head chef Chris Theobald takes pride in using seasonal ingredients to delight and surprise diners. Nowhere is this more evident than on this year’s Christmas menu! From the 21st to the 23rd December you can choose from an array of tantalizing dishes including wild mushroom and lentil pate, cranberry relish and warm toast or pheasant and pork rillettes, red currant jelly with flat bread to start, a rustic mixed game casserole with roasted roots and curly kale or a magnificent traditional roast Suffolk turkey, smoked bacon chipolata, apricot and sage stuffing and goose fat roast potatoes for main.
Round off the meal with Bramley apple and pear muesli crumble and vanilla custard or dark chocolate Baileys cheesecake, hazelnut crumb and coffee bean syrup. All of this in the stylish, simple and modern restaurant, with warm and attentive service.
6. Felixstowe Spa Pavilion
For something a little bit different this Christmas, why not enjoy the panoramic views of the Spa Pavilion restaurant in Felixstowe and even take in a show after your dinner?
The Christmas set menu is available on show nights on 7th and 14th December, as part of a special "Christmas Party Package" deal which includes a two or three course meal, a show ticket and after party with a DJ & the bar open until midnight.
Choose from dishes such as king prawns cooked in butter, chilli and lemon served on toasted ciabatta or shredded oriental duck with home-made crackers, cucumber, hoi Sin & spring onion to start. Follow it with an open steak and ale pie made with succulent braised steak in a rich ale & onion gravy, with a puff pastry lid, seasonal vegetables and mashed potato or roast honey and mustard fillet of wild salmon with rice, roast tomatoes, broccoli & a soy dressing. Desserts include traditional Christmas pudding as well as other more unusual options such as lemon tartlette served with clotted cream and tangy Eton mess.
7. The Sorrel Horse
The community-owned Sorrel Horse is a quintessential English pub with its thatched roof and cosy atmosphere. The staff welcome you and your family, friends or colleagues to join them and sample the delights of the new ‘Christmas Cracker’ menu.
This special menu combines the traditional flavours that one might associate with Christmas but gives them a novel and delicious twist. Why not start with the Black sticks blue brulee with pickled walnut and celery salad or potted duck liver and brandy parfait with truffle butter, fig chutney and garlic croutes followed by venison, bacon, and port suet pudding with mulberry sauce or a traditional turkey with cranberry & chestnut stuffing. The spinach & blue cheese wellington is a satisfying vegetarian option and fish lovers can enjoy the pan fried grey mullet with fennel and roast pepper escabeche.
You’ll be tempted by the dessert menu with iced clementine and gingerbread trifle, cherry baked Alaska with honeycomb, and dark chocolate and salted caramel fondant amongst the choices on offer.
8. The Sweffling White Horse
A rustic and comfortingly informal pub, The Sweffling White Horse is a haven of warmth and relaxation. Heated by a roaring wood burning stove and offering a range of bar games such as billiards and darts. The pub stocks an ever changing range of locally brewed ales and ciders and organic, fairtrade and local wines.
This Christmas the pub will be decked with holly, ivy and twinkling fairy lights and will be open on Christmas and Boxing Day serving a cosy menu of pies and jacket potatoes. Get in touch ahead of time to secure your place for the perfect end to a chilly Christmas day walk.
9. The Unruly Pig
A cosy, relaxed vibe, excellent service, quirky music and art as well as fresh, seasonal British food with an Italian influence; all this and more awaits you at The Unruly Pig, awarded ‘Best Suffolk Restaurant 2019/20’.
This Christmas, head chef, and ‘best pub restaurant chef 2019/20’, Dave Wall has a selection of different festive menus, each more tantalising than the last. The Christmas party menu includes roast golden turkey with all the trimmings and duo of beef, served pink with croquette and roasted celeriac mash.
The Boxing day menu is even more opulent with partridge, trio of pork and braised beef featherblade amongst the main courses and the rather special semifreddo with peanut butter, jam donut and peanut brittle a highlight of the varied dessert menu.
Vegetarian and vegan diners are not forgotten, with a separate menu dedicated to the meat free and plant-based diet. Beetroot salad, smoked gnocchi and pear crumble with pear sorbet are some example dishes.