Review: Wine and lobster at The Salthouse Harbour Hotel, Ipswich - what more could a girl want?

The Salthouse Harbour Hotel, Ipswich

The Salthouse Harbour Hotel, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

An evening of wine and lobster - quite possibly two of my most favourite things.

Add to the mix the super stylish Salthouse Harbour Hotel and fabulous company and it’s like I’m on the French Riviera at sunset (with Daniel Craig. Sigh.).

The Chardonnay and Lobster Night, which also featured at The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds, was essentially a wine tasting evening with an outstanding four course meal.

I’m hardly Jilly Goolden when it comes to wine. I enjoy wine - white, red, bubbles - but I tend to pick the bottle with the prettiest label or by how flush my account is looking (so around the £5 mark then). The notion of wine complementing my meal went as far as white with fish, red with beef. I hoped that after tonight I would no longer be such a novice.

Peter Rowe from Liberty Wines, who introduced each wine between courses, said he hoped the evening would dispel the commonly held ABC attitude towards Chardonnay - the Anything But Chardonnay snobbery.

By the first glass on offer, I think he had pretty much nailed this. It was a 2009 Chablis (Chablis 1er Cru Les Vaillons), and cost around £30 a bottle. It was superb. Peter explained how the fresh and crisp flavour was a hallmark choice to complement our fish starter. We were served mackerel with horseradish, cucumber and watercress, which was equally as superb. The wine neither overpowered or was lost with the fish - it was the perfect accompaniment. Trust me to favour the most expensive wine on offer.

The next course was a very tasty risotto with leek, onion and parmesan. This was served with an Omrah Chardonnay from Australia. Peter explained how Australian Chardonnay was not too popular, but he hoped the high level of acidity would balance the creamy risotta and persuade us otherwise. My limited palette thought it was a pretty good match for the risotto, which didn’t hang around for long.

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Our next treat came in the form of an M3 Chardonnay - not a very catchy name for a wine, but a big hit with the tastebuds, especially against the big hitters of lobster and garlic.

This was an outstanding course - grilled half lobster with garlic butter, hand cut chips and salad. It doesn’t come much better than that. The wine - from the Adelaide Hills - was described as a great example of a good value Chardonnay (about £24 a bottle) which perfectly balanced the lobster.

By our fourth and final course, we were all feeling a bit full and probably a bit tiddled. This time our wine (St Romain Puligny Montrachet) had to compete with a duo of Suffolk cheeses, including punchy goats cheese. The “fruit expressions” in the wine, which Peter described, were ideal with the cheese, and neither lost their flavour to one another. It was the perfect finale to a great meal. I would thoroughly recommend the night. The interludes by Peter were just the right tone and length. They didn’t disrupt your socialising, but he gave enough detail so you felt you had a grasp on what you were drinking. The food was first class, the staff were attentive, without being annoyingly so, and The Salthouse has oodles of style.

And it’s not just the wine talking.

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