On what was officially termed by the Met office as an “ice-cream weather” weekend, MTV boyfriend and I high-tailed it down to Brighton. I have visited Brighton once before on an absolutely freezing winter weekend so it was a revelation to sit in deck chairs on the pebbly beach and wander the lanes in sunshine and warm weather. I can’t report on Brighton’s ice-cream as we tended to grab the closest to hand which was generally sugary sweet soft serves topped with flakes but thanks to tips from Graphic Foodie we did get to test out some more Brighton restaurants.
The latte at Taylor Street
Taylor Street coffee shop is situated as soon as you come out of the station and promises some of the best coffee in Brighton. It is part of a boutique chain that also has an outpost in Richmond. This is indeed gourmet coffee promising “single origin beans of monsooned malabar from the bibi plantation sunniticoppa”. Even before I took a sip I knew my latte (£2) was going to be good as the barista was confident enough to add a bit of coffee art in there. Made on a Della Corte Evolution machine as I expected the co
ffee was the perfect mix of bitter and sweet.
Scrambled eggs with bacon
The cafe itself seems to be based more on a takeaway trade as there are not that many tables and the sunny outdoor courtyard didn’t even have any seats in it. Still, what we had to eat, while not in the same league as the coffee, was good enough. The scrambled eggs and smoked salmon featured creamy eggs, triangles of toast slathered with butter and rolls of salty smoked salmon. The scrambled eggs and bacon was flecked through with bacon lardons rather than having separate rashers. If you could cope with this break with tradition then it was pretty good. If you head to Taylor Street later in the day there is a limited lunch menu along with cakes and biscuits such as carrot cake (£2.20
) and florentine (£1.40).
Details: 28 Queens Road, Brighton, England BN1 3XA (Ph 0788 6199 706)
The Brighton institution, Bill’s Produce Store, now opens for dinner bookings as well as breakfast and lunch. You eat in a converted bus shelter which is now packed with cheery wooden tables and shelves containing every manner of preserve and gourmet food product. From red onion chutney to, chilli pickles to its own brand of beer, if your recipe calls for it, chances are Bill’s has got it.
Garlic and chilli tiger prawns at Bill’s
Reserved tables were marked with an orange which rather confused MTV boyfriend who asked our switched on waitress if he was supposed to eat the fruits as some sort of pre dinner snack (cue much eye rolling from me). The garlic and chilli tiger prawns were served swimming in a thick and rich tomato sauce (£6.25) with just the right amount of kick to them. Asparagus crostini showcased tender asparagus stems topped with curls of chilli, crumbled ricotta, a slug of pesto and scattered broad beans and rocket (£4.95).
Thai spiced pumpkin and coconut curry was probably a bit thicker and chunkier than they make it Thailand but MTV boyfriend enjoys Bill’s version, particularly the finishing touches of caramalised shallots, flaked almonds on top and prawn crackers on the side. Moroccan chicken (£8.95) delivered flavour and texture in equally satisfying amounts. The dish is bursting with a host of different flavours there are slithers of tangy preserved lemon, dollops of creamy tzaiki not to mention the rich tomato and earthy chickpeas. Like the rest of Bill’s dishes there is a lot of gutsy flavours but it all works.
Moroccan chicken at Bill’s
Dessert of warmed, dense chocolate brownie (£4.85) and two scoops of melting vanilla ice-cream was the perfect finale to a really memorable meal. Of all the places I have eaten in Brighton Bill’s was clearly the best particularly given the super cheap (from a London point of view) pricing.
Details: 100 North Road, Brighton, England BN1 1YE (Ph 1273 692 894)
Of course our most disappointing meal in Brighton was the place with the best view. Terraces is right on the seafront and is the sort of place where you get million dollar views with mediocre meals. The bruschetta (£5.95) was just two grilled pieces of bread with some cubes of semi ripe tomatoes and buffalo mozarella tossed on the plate near it. This sort of dish is so simple that it needs to have top quality ingredients and sadly there was nothing of that calibre in sight.
Pimms and lemonade at Terraces
The fish and chips (£8.95) featured overcooked fish where the beer batter had turned from golden to decidedly brown, disturbingly solid mushy peas and lacklustre chips. If I was ever to go back I think I would just order a drink and eat elsewhere.
Fish and chips at Terraces
Details: Madeira Drive, Brighton, England BN2 1AY (Ph 01273 545 250)
In Brighton you can go shopping in the Lanes, play mini golf, hang out in the cafes and bars, sit on the beach or play various games involving fluffy animals on the pier (which is more fun than you would imagine). We stayed at the Urban House hotel but unless you are staying in the most expensive suite which has a clawfoot bath with sea views I wouldn’t bother. Breakfast in particular was disappointing with not a fried egg in sight just some desultory cornflakes. From £130 – £180 a night.