Brighton

May 20, 2009 at 12:59 am | Posted in cafe, Cafes & Restaurants, Coffee, Food, General, museum, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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Visiting Brighton why not check out this quick guide:

Brighton (3) Brighton (64)

Attractions

  • Toy and Model Museum –  This museum costs £4 and if you’re a particular fan of model trains then you’ll want to check it out. The central collection of trains and tracks looks impressive but after pressing the start button only one locomotive runs. The collection also house other period toys, tin models, railways and dolls.
    Brighton - Toy and Model Museum (3) Brighton - Toy and Model Museum (4)
  • St Bartholomew’s Church – I’d read that St Bartholomew’s Church was something to check out due to being the ‘tallest church‘. Besides that there’s not a great deal to recommend it. While certainly a nice church it’s nothing to write home about.
    Brighton - St Bartholomew's (2) Brighton - St Bartholomew's (3)
  • Volks Railway – A small rail service running since 1883 along Brighton’s foreshore. It’s cheap, short and silly but randomly fun (for a 10 min trip). £1.70 one-way trip
    Brighton - Volks Railway (5) Brighton - Volks Railway (2)
  • Madeira lift – Not an attraction per se but while walking toward the Undercliff I randomly found the Madeira Lift. It’s basically just a lift and it takes you down to the beach (through the Concorde 2 bar). Basically it’s just random!
    Brighton - Madeira Lift Brighton - Madeira Lift (3)
  • Undercliff Walk – A coastal walk from Brighton and Saltdean. Walking it was somewhat disappointing and I don’t think it was just the weather. After taking 20 minutes just to get past the marina I was now properly walking next to the white cliff face with uninterrupted views of the sea on the other side. I felt small next to the steep face and rather peaceful looking out on the sea. This lasted for about 20 mins before the constant monotony set in. The unending parallels of cliff, path and water weighed heavily. You can’t readily leave the walk (which made me ponder what would happen if there was a storm or less likely a tidal wave). By the time I reached Saltdean I’d been walking for about 1.5 hrs (and you can go on a bit further). I walked up to the high road and caught a bus back to Brighton. If you have a bike then the ‘walk’ might be a lot more fun. If you go on a sunny day don’t forget to bring some water with you.
    Brighton - Undercliff walk (5) Brighton - Undercliff walk (4)
  • West Pier – Not an attraction per se but the ruins of one of Brighton’s piers is on the shore and a good starting point to walk along the beach towards Brighton Pier.
    Brighton - West Pier (2)
  • Brighton Pier – This pier is filled with carnival attractions (some may close depending on weather), video games, poker machines and food outlets.
    Brighton - Pier (6) Brighton - Pier (8)
  • North Laine – Spread out over a number of streets (check the Google Map) North Laine features a variety of shops from comics and clothes to cafes and the huge flee market of Snooper’s Paradise
  • The Lanes – Similar to North Laine, the Lanes consists of a multitude of small shops, eateries etc dispersed throughout a number of winding lanes. While not as extensive as I’d imagined it was still interesting to walk around.
  • Royal Pavilion – This former Royal Palace is probably one of the major attractions in Brighton. You’ll be charged £8.80 and get a complimentary audio tour. The Pavilion with its distinctive domes and turrets is now owned by the city with most of the fittings on loan from the Queen. The Pavilion is an excellent example of Chinoiserie and Regency decor. Some of the most notable rooms are the Banqueting Hall with its impressive dragon ensnared chandelier, the ‘modern’ kitchen and the music room with its hand woven carpet and gold cockle ceiling. No photography is permitted inside.
    Brighton - Royal Pavilion (5) Brighton - Royal Pavilion (13)
  • Brighton Museum and Art Gallery – This museum is located in the same park as the Royal Pavilion and its free (unless there are special exhibits on). It’s reasonable and varied but not spectacular. In addition to a history of Brighton the museum had sections on world cultures, ceramics, art deco and Egyptology.
    Brighton - Museum and Art Gallery

Food and Drink

Brighton surprised me by having a high density of cafes and eateries. Here are the ones I visited but there are plenty of others!

  • Red Roaster – This cafe had been recommended and it seems popular with the locals but I found it wanting. My mocha only had the barest hint of chocolate and was generally weak. While the environment was cosy the wall colour is a very bland light beige. My sandwich was reasonable and filling.
  • Tic Toc Cafe – I definitely enjoyed this cosy cafe located in the Lanes with its light atmosphere, couches and decorated walls. The mocha was delightfully sweet without the need for extra sugar. The staff member was also friendly and helpful.
  • Scoop and Crumb – This cafe has a wide selection of sundaes and waffles. It claims to have the largest menu in the UK. Even my dull sounding choc fudge sundae was tasty and comes topped with a few streamers!
  • Bill’s Produce – Beyond the plastic flaps at the entrance you’ll find a small but plentiful fresh produce selection. Rustic wood tables are in the middle. One wall is filled with canned and bottled produce and the other side is where the display cabinets (sandwiches etc) and cooking are done. Prompt friendly service. While I initially thought that the volume of food (compared to London prices) was badly skewed I was mistaken. Not only did the food smell and taste wonderful but by the end of the meal I was satisfyingly full.
  • Shakeaway – An ice cream shake shop. Fairly expensive and is popular with tourists and young people. While tasty and filling I just don’t get the hype. Perhaps I’m just too familiar with Cold Rock to be impressed?
  • Choccywoccydoodah – Great atmosphere, very fun and an array of tasty chocolate. Mocha was good and had the option to use their brand of white, milk and dark chocolate. A little bit costly but worth it.
    Brighton - Choccywoccydoodah
  • Pompoko – This Japanese restaurant was cheap and the servings while not enormous were reasonable and the food was a decent quality. The food was served quickly and the staff were friendly.

Bars

A caveat on this section. I went out on a Tuesday night and as a result every bar we went to (and those we skipped) were all quiet. Brighton has many other bars to check out as well.

  • The Mash Tun – A student bar with outside seating. I thought that the on tap beer price was a bit excessive but besides that it’s a fairly stereotypical bar.
  • The Windmill – A little further out from the centre of Brighton (not a big thing in small Brighton). Prices were reasonable, staff friendly and a fairly relaxed atmosphere. Unfortunately due to lack of numbers I can’t comment about the type of clientele.
  • Heist – A cocktail bar with leather couches and tables on one side and bar stools on the other. Even on Tuesday this bar had quite a few people ranging from young student types to the middle aged. Our cocktails were fairly good and not too expensive.
  • Royal Pavilion Tavern – Luckily, we made it to the upstairs club area while it was still free entry. Apparently Tuesday is indie night and while I’m no expert it’s probably fair to say it was more heavy/rocky than indie. Plenty of people some even danced but sadly I wasn’t feeling the music enough to dance. That or I wasn’t drunk enough – difficult given the queues at the bar (lack of staff?).

Map at Google and photos at Flickr!

Coffee @ Goswell – my new favourite place

August 6, 2007 at 6:00 am | Posted in cafe, Coffee, Food, General, Out and About, UK | 3 Comments
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There are a few things I look for in a regular coffee shop and luckily I’ve found a place that meets most of these needs in Coffee@Goswell, located on oddly enough on Goswell street near Old Street, Barbican and Angel stations. So how does this cafe measure up against my needs?

First and foremost is the coffee (obviously) and not just any coffee but a mocha. For me the definition of a good mocha is it must be sweet, at least a little thick and of course chocolatey without adding extra sugar to mask the lack of chocolate or other sweetener. Not having to add sugar is a fairly big indicator on the general quality. Australian coffee was sometimes a miss but on the whole it was reasonable and sweet. Of course having the Lindt cafe so close may be skewing my assessment. Meanwhile in London the coffee has been lacklustre. I’ve resorted to Starbucks. Of all the shame but at least their mochas are usually the same standard. C@G has excellent coffee, thick, sweet and easy to drink, therefore being a big plus for them. Of course this might just be my palette’s reaction to the weak coffee I’ve been subjected to over the past few months.

Second, the atmosphere and amenities. Ideally, I’d like a place that is relaxing and has comfy chairs, almost a la Central Perk in Friends. On this score C@G does well with sofas around a central table with other tables and chairs on the side – so plenty of seating. Along one wall is a stretch of eltrical sockets for those with laptops and a few internet cafe PCs as well. The cafe has wi-fi (pick up the code at the counter) but what do you expect from a cafe using the @ symbol? I don’t feel out of place reading a book, working on my laptop or pulling out my DS. However, on the flip side there is limited seating outside; it is basically just a bench and I may be wrong but I don’t think there are bathrooms inside.

Third, other food and drinks. Other than their coffee I’m also a fan of their berry smoothie. Very tasty but I’ll have to start expanding my choices to see if they are all as good. My big disappointment is the lack of a kitchen and set menu. The cafe offers a selection of pre-packaged meals (sandwiches and salads) as well as any number of cakes. I can’t be too harsh on them though (well I’d like to be) but it seems as though this “style of cuisine” is the norm for most cafes. On the plus side at the end of the day the staff put any uneaten cakes and pastries out on a table and they’re all free. Yes free food is really the clincher for me!

C@G is open 7 til 8 every day and they stop serving about 7:45. The staff are friendly and helpful. I’ve only been there a few times and they already seem to know me. If you live in the area and hankering for good coffee Coffee@Goswell is an excellent choice.

UPDATED 13/01/08 – Two additonal points on C@G – First and most important is that the wifi is now free with purchase which should mean more money for you (although I have experienced their router dropping out). Second, apparently this place is dog friendly (there are dog treats on the counter) and people bring their dogs in off the leash. However, I’m not really a fan of letting them wander everywhere and I think as dog owners you should watch where they go so they aren’t bothering anyone or blocking anything.

Although if the staff aren’t concerned by them going behind the counter then who am I to complain? Oh right a customer.

Cafe Hernandez, what’s happened?

March 19, 2007 at 10:34 am | Posted in Australia, Cafes & Restaurants, Coffee, General, Out and About, Sydney | Leave a comment
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Cafe Hernandez is a bit of an institution in Kings Cross/ Potts Point, known for its coffee and being open 24 hours. The last time I’d been here was about 8 months ago while I was studying late at night, needed caffeine and a chance to get out of the apartment. If memory serves it was quite tasty and on other earlier occasions the food was also pretty good.

Unfortunately, a few weeks ago I went back there and tonight visited its new shop just off Oxford Street and frankly, the quality of the food, coffee and service have all taken a serious dive. Perhaps splitting their attention has weakened their capacity in both.

Service at both has become (more) surly and quite slow, which is particularly surprising when there are no people in the shop. The food lacks taste and was quite bland and uninteresting. I had pasta tonight and sought out the burnt pieces as this gave it overall food just a little more badly needed flavour. The coffee is ok but nothing worthy of the self-congratulatory tone on their website.

Cafe Hernandez you’ve failed me twice in almost as many weeks. Even if I was staying in Sydney I would not be back and should I require a caffeine hit late at night I’ll stick with whatever I can find at a local convenience store.

Max Brenner at Double Bay

January 10, 2007 at 12:42 am | Posted in Cafes & Restaurants, Coffee, Food, General, Out and About, Sydney | 4 Comments
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Whilst in Double Bay I visited the local Max Brenner’s having been previously to the other shops at Paddington, Manly and in the CBD.  If you’ve never been to Max Brenner’s and love chocolate you are missing out, their mochas and selection of chocolate related food and drink are awesome.

Having said that, I would give the Double Bay store a wide berth unless you’re just getting take-away, as the table service was terrible. While the store was moderately busy it was no where near busy enough to justify the awful service. Upon arriving at the store and meeting Rhi and Richard who were already there, no staff member offered me a menu or asked if I would like a drink. Speaking of which, we all wanted water and after groing frustation with their lack of interest in us I walked to the water cups, just had my hands on them when waiter informed me that I could not take them back to the table and that he would serve us the water. Which he did – eventually.

I guess I need to have a responsible service (of water) accreditation for this?

Coincidentally, I had bought a mocha from the same store earlier in the day and the service was decent, nothing flash but ok and as I only remained inside briefly I think it was worth it in exchange for a much needed coffee.

Give up on the Double Bay store and get your Max Brenner fix at another store.

Something of an improvement: Giotta Art Cafe

November 13, 2006 at 12:02 pm | Posted in Cafes & Restaurants, Coffee, General, Out and About, Sydney, Travel | Leave a comment
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After two poor choices I made my way home and decided to try for another coffee on Stanley Street. I’ve never spent any time in Stanley Street, I don’t really know why. I had always presumed it was a larger stretch of eateries but it covers just a bit more than a block. Most places appeared either packed or empty-ish, so in a Goldilocks moment I went for the middle option and walked into Giotta Art Cafe (they don’t seem to have a website).

Décor wise it could have ended up being bland. However, the wooden seating and tables help to warm the interior away from the white walls. The venue also has, as the name suggests, art along the walls that I assume you could buy. I further assume that these change on a regular basis. I imagine if I came back on a regular basis the changing art may influence the mood of the establishment.  

I only ordered a mocha so I can’t comment on the food. The mocha was decent and quite sweet (granted I added 2 sugars without even tasting it) however once again there was too much froth, not as much as earlier but enough to be annoying.  All in all the café offers an inviting interior and reasonably friendly staff. While it’s not going onto my regular rotation it is one I wouldn’t say no to.

Disappointment continues: Organic Produce

November 13, 2006 at 11:51 am | Posted in Coffee, Food, General, Out and About, Sydney | 2 Comments
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I walked to Organic Produce on Crown Street near Oxford after the Hyde Park Barracks with free Herald in hand. I’ve often walked past this café/deli on my way to the Lounge and today was the day I decided to try it out. I should have kept walking.  

I had a pasta salad and a mocha. The mocha tasted more like a regular coffee and had about a third of the cup filled with froth. The coffee was particularly bitter and while that may suit some people it does not match my sweet tooth as I couldn’t taste anything but strong and bitter. The salad was ok but nothing to write home about. The shop also has organic fresh foods and goods. If I was an organics person who lived closer I may have tried them out but I’m not and so as a layman I am saying that there’s nothing special about this café and nothing at all special if you don’t like bitter coffee.

On the other hand if you’re into organic foods give it a try and let me know whether it meets your expectations.

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