While staying in Bury St Edmunds, we went to La Maison Bleue to enjoy dinner. Owned by Chef Patron Pascal Canevet and his wife Karine, who is front of house, La Maison Bleue is a true Suffolk dining experience. With national acclaim, this family-run restaurant has won a host of awards. And having dined there, it is easy to see why. Samantha Mattocks tells us more.
La Maison Bleue is found on Churchgate Street, and it offers guests modern French fine dining while incorporating the finest local, seasonal ingredients. With its white linen tablecloths, the restaurant manages to be fresh, modern, and relaxed, and from the moment you arrive, you know that you are in for a wonderful experience.
On arrival, you are presented with two menus – a daily dinner menu for £42.50 and an à la carte menu for £61. Both include bread and butter, amuse-bouche, and petit fours. There is also an optional cheese course for £12.50 or £6 in place of a dessert. Glancing at the menu, it is clear that you are in the hands of someone who not only loves cooking, but also understands flavours.
When we visited, it was the day after my birthday and Karine kindly presented us with a glass of champagne as a gift from them to us, which was a lovely touch. As well as bringing the menus, she also brought over the extensive wine list, which has its own side table. With over 300 vintages on offer, there is a wide and varied choice, including half bottles.
We made our selections, including a half bottle of Sancerre to go with the starters and then a bottle of Haut-Médoc for the mains, and relaxed into the very convivial surroundings.
The first of the plates came out – sourdough bread, potato bread, and a cone of salted butter, which was a pleasant change. The amuse-bouche followed – a lighter than air choux pastry with a chicken liver parfait filling, and a warming butternut velouté. The flavours of both danced, and our appetites were firmly whetted.
Starters were next, beginning with a smoked eel and red cabbage-infused risotto with a soft egg and parsley powder. The risotto was cooked perfectly as was the eel, and it was an interesting dish offering very different flavours to those seen regularly. I went for Isle of Orkney king scallop with chicken wing, artichoke, pancetta, and chicken jus – one of my favourite flavour combinations and did not disappoint. The scallop was beautifully seared, and the chicken wing deboned, the little touches that help elevate a dish from wonderful to incredible. Both dishes really were exceptional, and both very different.
For our mains, Hanneke chose the roasted haunch of Breckland venison with blackcurrant sauce, purple potato, turnip, baby parsnip, and pickled red onion. The venison was, as one would expect, perfectly cooked as was the eel, being pink in the middle and with a nice sear on the outside. The blackcurrant added a wonderful sharp note to the dish, and the accompanying vegetables balanced the plate well. I chose the breast and leg confit of Aylesbury duck with cream of Parmigiano, reduction, beetroot and apple relish, fig, and shallot. I never, in a million years, would have dreamed of putting Parmigiano with duck confit, let along a creamed version, but it was incredible and worked so well together! The confit was rich and indulgent, the breast perfectly seared and pink, and the flavours of everything married together well. On both plates, nothing was an ‘extra’ that wasn’t needed, and balance was achieved.
Time for desserts, which you chose when placing your order at the start of the evening. I went for the iconic apple – green apple mousse, cocoa butter, salted caramel, and hazelnuts. It looked like a Snow White apple, perfectly red and shiny, and the cocoa butter shell had a crack when you broke it. It was a truly exceptional dessert, and I am so glad that I chose it! Hanneke had Pascal’s version of an opera cake, light and elegant.
Of course, we could not resist sharing a cheese plate and the trolley was laden with French fromagerie delights! Karine put together a journey through French cheeses on the plate, and they came with membrillo, chutney, grapes, crackers, and bread. Almost a meal in its own right, this was a lovely experience, and we may have had a small glass of port to go with it!
Finally, time for the petit fours and a coffee – chocolate, macaron, and a pastille, all rounding the evening off perfectly and it was with some reluctance that we left La Maison Bleue and headed back into the real world.
Pascal’s cooking remains truly French at heart, with influences from around the world evident in the menu. Visiting La Maison Bleue feels like a real treat, and I know that we cannot wait to go back again. The care and attention to detail is faultless, from the staff on arrival to the food and the service. Both menus offer value for money, and the restaurant has an intimate feel, leaving you alone to chat with friends while you enjoy the experience.
For those wanting a flavour of La Maison Bleue at home, they have launched Leá Bury St Edmunds, named after Pascal’s mother. You can either chose individual dishes or a set menu of starter, main and dessert for £19.95. With tables at La Maison Bleue booking up in advance, Leá could be an easy way to enjoy the taste of France from your own home!