Brighton smells like oysters – that briny, seaside smell. Which I like, so kind of like the smell of fresh baked bread, it just makes me hungry. Being perpetually willing to eat in Brighton (a town on the south coast of England) works in my favor as there are many, many wonderful places to eat. Unfortunately, I am only here for a weekend so it seems impossible that I will be able eat at them all.
I arrived Friday night with the rush hour train crowd and dropped off my bags at Snooze, a Kemp Town bed and breakfast done up in delightful 70′s glam. I am still in time for dinner and on the advice of Snooze and the Time Out Brighton I head to the vegetarian restaurant Terre a Terre. This turns out to be an excellent choice as I am just late enough to not wait for a table (a common occurrence in Brighton as many restaurants don’t take reservations). One excellent cheesy soufflé pea thing for dinner and cherry churro dessert later I am happy enough to spring for a box of their chocolate truffles to take home. I also had a glass of white wine from East Sussex, which was surprisingly good.
Day 1: Seaside Oyster Smell + Lots of Walking = Eating
The next morning I give in to the classic seaside town activity – I walk the promenade. An invigorating, sunny walk to the Marina takes only about fifteen minutes. I am underwhelmed by the Marina, but maybe that’s because its 10:30 am and I neither feel like eating again, seeing a movie or bowling. The Marina is great for those things, but not much else. I take the Volks train back, a classic beach side train that runs from the Marina to Brighton Pier. Then I head onto the most opulent of Brighton’s attractions, the Royal Pavilion.
George IV had the Royal Pavilion built as a nice little beach house to entertain visiting heads of state and friends. The kitchen is bigger than many people’s apartments in London, but then, it had to make 100 dish dinners for George, so space was needed (see, the seaside makes you hungry!). The Royal Pavilion’s Asian themed interior decorating is amazing and worth checking out.
After the famous pier and pavilion, Brighton’s top attraction is arguably The Lanes, a twisty collection of narrow streets packed with shops, bars and restaurants. I wander the old, closer to the beach lanes, where, after a bit of shopping, I decide I have earned a pre-lunch ice cream from Scoop & Crumb (the cinnamon ginger was lovely). Then I walk to Hove, the town attached to the hip of Brighton, to have lunch at Jamie Oliver’s The Real Food Company. And lest ye think I am done eating, after lunch I walk back to Brighton and enjoy a cream tea at the aptly named Cream Tea. Clotted cream when will you catch on in The States?
After a short rest for my feet at the hotel it’s time to see the famous Brighton Pier. The pier seems more authentic and less kitschy than say the Santa Cruz Boardwalk or other seaside haunts I’ve roamed. Some things I imagine looked just the same to Queen Victoria as they do to me today. The fish and chip stands remind me it must be time for dinner so I take a wander through Kemp Town’s shops to Sam’s, a nice little bistro away from the weekend crowds in The Lanes.
Sam’s does take reservations, and I suggest on a weekend you make one as I nearly got turned away. Luckily I must’ve looked dejected enough that they squeezed me in. A refreshing gazpacho followed by a duck, pancetta and plum concoction leave me too full for dessert, which I mourn for my whole walk back to Snooze, until I remember I bought clotted cream toffees at a candy shop in The Lanes and promptly eat one as soon as I get to my room.
Day 2: The Beach and The Banksy
Sunday Miss Moneypenny (ok, not her real name) from Viator’s London office joins me for a stroll on the beach. Brighton’s beach is pebbly, not sandy, so wear some shoes. The English Channel is also quite brisk, so don’t expect to take a long swim unless you are wearing a wetsuit or into the whole polar bear swimming in chilly water thing. But the sun is warm and Miss Moneypenny and I dip our feet in. Lunch at another Jamie Oliver restaurant, Jamie’s Italian, which we agree is good enough, but not fantastic. We take a long wander through The Lanes to shop for a good souvenir. I get a lovely black and white photo on canvas of Brighton Pier. Brighton has lots of nice street art as well and Miss Moneypenny and I snap a few pictures of some as we wander around, though not of the famous Banksy near Trafalgar Street, because it is under plexiglass, which actually makes it look awful. Liberate the Banksy!
And then, sigh, back to London, where the sun is shining, but it isn’t quite the same without the pier and the beach.
Thinking of heading to Brighton? Take the National Rail from Victoria Station or London Bridge. Trains leave about every 20-30 minutes for Brighton (about an hour long ride). No advance reservation needed.
- Kelly G