It’s that time of year again, time to sample Brighton’s festive food offerings, starting with a favourite restaurant of mine, Giggling Squid. I love the idea of Thai Food for Christmas as it’s just something different – certainly not a whiff of turkey and stuffing here! Their Christmas Menu came out on 13th November so we headed down to the Hove restaurant to give it a whirl. The Christmas Menu is at both lunch and evening times and is a three-course set menu priced at £20.95 at lunchtime or £29.95 in the evening, this also comes with a glass of prosecco.
Last year we tried the Christmas Menu at the Brighton Giggling Squid but as this year we were with Violet, the Hove branch is so much more accessible for pushchairs as it’s all on one level! Plus eating out at lunchtime is so much easier these days too. How times change! The restaurant has natural rustic feel which is authentically Thai, it was actually really busy when we arrived I managed to snap the above photo right at the end of our meal at a rare quiet moment.
When we arrived there seem to be quite a bit of confusion over the menu, the staff did not seem to know much about the Christmas menu as it had only just launched so excuse some of the dishes are not from the ‘official’ Christmas menu, this can be seen online here.
Of course, all good Thai meals should start with a giant bowl of prawn crackers. The best part? V is allergic to shellfish so can’t have any! Win.
For starters, I had the Thai Grilled Aubergine which on the menu says it comes with a fresh, tangy chilli sauce, that should read ‘seriously spicy!’ sauce, even the waiter who was Thai himself said he struggled to eat this one. I so actually love spicy foods though – but it did put me to my limits!
V went for the Corn Fritters with Sweet Chilli Sauce, a firm favourite of ours. Deliciously Thai, something I would usually always order myself.
Our main courses actually arrived at the same time as starters, V going for the classic Pad Thai with tofu – which was delicious (I wanted to steal it all, basically I had food envy most of this meal)
I went for the Cashew Nut Stir Fry with rice – which sadly, I thought was pretty bland and certainly not special enough for Christmas lunch.
Onto the deserts, the Christmas offers sound rather delicious, with options such as Prosecco and Muddled Berry Cheesecake, Honeycomb Semi-Freddo with Thai-spiced Star fruit. However, sadly these options weren’t available on our visit, so we chose the Mango & Passionfruit Cheesecake and the Warm Molten Chocolate Cake.
Sadly, as lovely as the deserts were both of them were still frozen in the centre, plus the ‘Warm’ Chocolate cake was actually served cold, so it was a massive disappointment – especially as they actually look really good and the flavours were perfect. I loved how the Chocolate cake was spiced with a hint of chilli, if it was warm it would have been divine!
We finished up with some coffees, served with a mint chocolate which is always a lovely touch.
All in all, another meal that was a disappointment at Giggling Squid. It’s such a shame as I actually really love the restaurant, but both times we’ve tried the Christmas menu, it’s fallen flat on it’s face. Maybe I’m just expecting a bit more, when you pay for a Christmas set menu, you expect a touch of sparkle, something special, don’t you? This is very standard food I’d expect on a normal lunchtime.
This hasn’t put me off going to the Giggling Squid though, honestly they do great food and I think their ‘normal’ menu and Thai tapas is delicious, so if you visit, I’d stick to what they do best!
I do love an Afternoon Tea – There is something decadent about working through the layers whilst copious cups of tea and wiling away an afternoon. So, a couple of weekends ago we headed down to the newly opened Patisserie Valerie in Brighton. I always think of London when I see Patisserie Valerie, so knowing I have one close to home now is too exciting (or dangerous!). Funny enough, I actually did a brunch review last year, when this property was Baker & Spice, so when we turned up looking for the new Patisserie Valerie I had no idea they’d taken over that very spot. Thinking back, I don’t think Baker & Spice ever really took to Brighton, seeing as we are overwhelmed with great brunch cafes already so I can’t say I am surprised. I think with Patisserie Valerie, being an established and well-known chain will have more of a chance of survival in an oversaturated area as it is.
The venue is ideal for Brighton’s changeable weather, with indoor and outdoor seating plus a suntrap conservatory. It was a sunny day so we sat in the bright and airy conservatory area to watch the world go by, but also have a little bit of privacy with a baby who’s newfound love is to bang her hands on the table, scream for no reason and grab everything in sight!
The Afternoon Tea itself is one of the best value for money in Brighton – at only £25 for two it’s very reasonably priced, many places charge this per person! I was eager to see if it would live up to it’s competitors, or if the quality would be reflected in the lower price.
The Patisserie Valerie Afternoon Tea includes:a selection of finger sandwiches, mini quiches, scones with jam & clotted cream all topped off with a selection of mini cakes and accompanied by a refillable pot of tea. You can also add a glass of Prosecco for an extra £5. As we are both Vegetarian, we asked for the veggie option. I was completely impressed that we were also advised which cakes contained gelatine and given options to replace them as this is often overlooked as a vegetarian. One of the cakes we couldn’t have so they gave us a full-sized Apple Tart in it’s place!
Needing an extra caffeine boost with a baby who just wants to sit up, crawl, look at everything, touch everything we ordered coffee’s instead of tea which they were able to swap with no extra charge.
The first course – the savoury layer was fine for a vegetarian option and did the trick for a quick lunch, but I wouldn’t say they were the most interesting sandwiches I’ve ever eaten! They were tasty and fresh but the fillings were quite basic, fillings such as egg mayo, cheese, humous – I think they could have been a little more inventive on this front, maybe the meat sandwiches are more interesting. One of our sandwiches just had some spinach leaves in with a slick of mustard – an interesting combo, I skipped that one.
I wasn’t too disappointed in the savoury course, in my heart-of-hearts I’m just there for the cakes. I just like to act like I’m eating something sensible by entertaining the savoury course. As soon as we were done I was more than excited to move on up a layer, to the traditional scones with clotted cream and jam.
The scones were clearly freshly made and baked to perfection – with a generous serving of clotted cream and as many pots of Bonne Maman jam as we could manage.
Lastly, onto the cakes section – my favourite and I think this was the best part of the whole experience. Eclairs, Victoria Sponge, chocolate gateaux and a carrot cake were on our selection – plus we had our full sized apple tart on the side (where we replaced one of the cakes for containing gelatine). By this point we were getting rather full so we did our best but most of them came home in a little box with us to enjoy later. The staff were helpful in boxing them up for us and gave us a nicely wrappy ‘doggy bag’ as we left!
One of my only criticisms of the experience was not anything to do with the food, but I thought the restaurant itself wasn’t great for accessibility. To use the toilets there is a flight of stairs and to get to the baby change there are two flights of stairs! I negotiated my way down the stairs with a wiggly baby and change bag and it wasn’t the safest of options and I think someone who hasn’t had a baby had obviously thought that was a good place for the change table!
All in all, I thought our Afternoon Tea experience was rather lovely, especially for the price of £25 for two people. I wouldn’t say it was the most elaborate I’ve ever had but for the price it was delicious and well worth a visit. If you are looking for something really special or unique there are lots of other places in Brighton like The Salt Room, Terre a Terre or The Grand, but those all come with a different price tag so really they shouldn’t be compared! A lovely experience all round that can’t really be faulted for the price tag – give it a go!
If you are looking for Afternoon Tea in Brighton, see my reviews on:
Living in Brighton, I’m not sure I know of one person that doesn’t love Bill’s. Being a local brand it just feels part of our city and our Brightonian culture. There is something special about the atmosphere, there is always such a buzz, the food is delicious and it’s a friendly meeting point for many, at any time of the day. Although Bill’s is nationwide now, it actually started close to home just up the road in Lewes, with the Brighton restaurant the first to open after the success in Lewes, so they always seem to me like a small local business.
A couple of week’s ago Bill’s Brighton had a complete redesign – adding a touch more glamour to venue (which was before Bill’s a bus depot!) they now offer 50 more seats, launched a brand new Summer Menu and the best part, a sundowners cocktail menu (which looks amazing!). They had a glitzy relaunch party which I was invited to but evenings aren’t so easy with a little one, so I watched the fun from afar (good old Instastories!) Quite a shame, as I quite fancied a sundowner or two! Instead, I popped into Bill’s for a leisurely lunch, which was much more Violet-appropriate.
The new redesign certainly makes the inside of the venue feel bigger, I love the new decor too – They seem to have found the perfect balance of homely and friendly with a touch of glam. It’s easy to see how the venue can be transformed from a brunch spot to a cocktail bar as the day goes on. The above snap was a rare quiet moment when we arrived, however within minutes there were people jostling for seats and the background buzz of chatter ramped up a notch or two. There is an extended mezzanine area for dining too, so there is a huge amount of seating now as Bill’s does tend to fill up quickly. Getting in and out with a pushchair wasn’t easy, the mix of dining room chairs and plush armchairs meant it’s a bit of a maze, but during the day most people in there were families, so I think everyone just ‘gets it’ and were more than happy to help me squeeze by.
I met up with my friend Andrea for a catch-up over a Bill’s Pink Lemonade and to see what the new menu is all about, and of course so she could get some Violet cuddles in too.
I haven’t been to Bill’s in a while, but the first thing I noticed is how extensive the menu has become (I swear there wasn’t that much choice before -or is it because I always used to get a fish finger sandwich?). It took me quite a while to decide on what I wanted, I was tempted by options such as the macaroni cheese, halloumi burger, plus of course I was thrilled to see they had the fish finger sandwich still in place – but feeling summery and tempted by a colourful selection of baby kale, pomegranate, asparagus and watermelon – I went for the Bills Summer Salad with a side of Sweet Potato fries (oh come on, I wasn’t going to be THAT healthy) – all washed down with a classic the Bill’s Pink Lemonade, which is the perfect summer drink, served over ice and strawberries.
Andrea went of the Golden Fried Sesame Pork Dumplings with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce, followed by the Chicken Caesar Salad, which although I don’t eat chicken looked particularly tasty and the chicken chargrilled to absolute perfection.
Sadly, Andrea had to get back to work after her main course, so missed out on the epic pudding menu! Violet had been a nightmare that morning, I’d pushed her all around town trying to get her to drop off to sleep before our lunch as I knew she’d just be overtired, however she didn’t finally give in to a good sleep right to the last minute, so I decided to make the most of it and ordered another Bill’s Pink Lemonade and a Raspberry and Peach Crumble (with Salted Caramel sauce!) to myself, so I sat enjoying the moment of sheer indulgence and peace and quite on my own! It was absolute bliss!
We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch date at Bill’s Brighton and sampling the new menu. I loved the new decor inside, it’s quirky, electric and chic with that buzzy feeling Bill’s always has. The perfect place for anything from brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or cocktails – Bill’s is open from ‘breakfast to bedtime’ and covers all bases under one roof!
Thanks for letting us visit and try out the new menu – I’ll be back soon no doubt to try out the rest of my favourite dishes!
I was offered a complimentary meal at Bill’s Brighton in return for an open and honest review – all words and opinions are my own
Champagne, Cake and Caffeine – sounds like the perfect recipe for two busy Mums, right? So, a couple of weeks ago I headed down to The Salt Room to treat my good friend and busy mum-of-two Andrea to a rather special Afternoon Tea. This was to say thank you for hosting such a wonderful baby shower for us, way back before Violet arrived.
I’d seen The Salt Room’s afternoon tea all over Instagram and couldn’t wait to finally get to try it myself, although arranging a time for both of us to get together after reschedules for babies injections, fevers and an outbreak of chicken pox it did take quite considerable time! So, with a date in the diary – it was finally our chance to indulge and give Brighton’s most ‘insta-worthy’ afternoon tea a go.
The Salt Room is located in prime position on Brighton’s iconic seafront – it’s the perfect pitstop if you are visiting the city as it’s so close to the centre of town, shopping areas and the i360 tower. The large, airy mezzanine area has bright sea views of the west pier. Offering lunch, afternoon tea, pre-theatre and dinner – The Salt Room have you covered whatever time of day you plan your visit.
When we first arrived at The Salt Room, we were greeted by the friendly maître d’ who took our coats and showed us to the table. I was a little surprised I was asked to leave Violet’s pushchair by the door as there wouldn’t be space by the table (particularly frustrating as I had to wake her from sleeping and then had to hold a grizzly tired baby when I’d timed our visit for her to nap), although to be fair I hadn’t called in advance to tell them I’d be bringing her, so I do understand.
At our table our waitress enthusiastically gave us the full run down of what the Afternoon Tea included, starting with the drinks. There are four main options for the Afternoon tea:
JING Tea or Roasted Bean Co. Coffee
JING Flowering Tea
East London Liquor Company G&T
Of course, celebrating Violet’s birth we pushed the boat out and went for the Tattinger Champagne! Although I did see the G&T option which looked amazing too but thought better of ordering both after not drinking for over a year – I’d be under the table!
We sat enjoying our champagne looking out across Brighton beach, it was just dreamy and such a lovely way to spend a day of maternity leave! Then came the ‘wow factor‘ as our beautiful afternoon tea had arrived. People were visibly turning around in the restaurant to see what all the fuss was about!
So, let’s explore each layer….
Let’s start with the savoury, fish-based first course. It’s certainly an impressive selection of unique and interesting savoury treats -and beats the classic egg and cress sarnie any day! The savoury course includes the following: Crab Scotch Egg, Crumpet with Marmite butter, Truffled Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Salmon Pastrami & Squid Ink Bun and Aged Beef Tartare & Egg Yolk Jam Sandwich.
I don’t often eat fish as Vee is highly allergic (to the point I can’t even order it!) so it was a real treat to try some new flavours I wouldn’t normally be able to order. As I’m vegetarian (well, pescatarian if you want to be precise!) they were able to cater to my needs, swapping the Beef Tartare for a Fried Cod Fritter (which was delicious) plus Andrea still got to enjoy the Beef Tartare. Favourites of this course being the Squid Ink Bun with Smoked Salmon – a unique experience! The Salmon was generously piled amongst fresh, cool cream cheese, with the squid ink giving the bun a twang, I can’t quite put my finger on, you’ll have to give it a try to see! I also loved the Crab Meat Scotch egg, as us veggies don’t often get to eat Scotch eggs.
SCONES WITH CLOTTED CREAM & JAM:
No afternoon tea would be complete without scones with clotted cream and jam, it’s a classic! Being a huge fan of the cream tea, this is the bit I get really excited about so on first impressions I thought the scones were slightly on the small side, but there is something oddly filling about Afternoon Tea and looking back they were just the perfect size. The scones are fresh and perfectly baked, served with lashings of dreamy house-made clotted cream and the most gorgeous Strawberry and Elderflower Jam.
At this point we also ordered some extra drinks, switching from the Champers to a good cup of tea (well, you know – I have to be sensible these days!) We now had a new waiter serving our area and I wondered if it may have been his first day as he was quite confused about the options available (and whether the restaurant had any baby changing facilities – it does!). I asked to try the JING Flowering Tea as our previous waitress had described it to us in great detail, explaining that you can literally watch the flower bursting into bloom within your tea so I just had to give it a go! However when he returned, he had brought a cup of plain chamomile tea, stating this made with flowers. I didn’t have the heart to tell him thats not what I meant and we did have a giggle about it afterwards. Bless him, I’ll have to try the Flowering Tea next time!
Excuse the chipped nail polish – washing 10 bottles a day doesn’t bode well with perfect nails!
Onto my favourite part of any meal – the sweet treats! This course is clearly inspired by The Salt Room’s famous ‘Taste of the Pier’ dessert and is certainly the most eye-catching part of the experience! This course includes Chocolate Pebbles, Rhubarb Posset, Chocolate & Praline Teacakes, Kalamansi and White Chocolate Macarons and of course – Candy Floss! Favourites had to be the chocolate pebbles – rich, velvety and oh so delectable – although so amazingly sweet, even for a chocolate fiend like me couldn’t manage more than one! Plus of course I also loved the Candy Floss – just because! It’s fun and made me feel like a kid again, it really captures the childhood memories of walks on the pier, going on the rides and playing with the 2p machines. The only very slight negative we found that was that the Rhubarb posset had completely melted onto the plate by the time we got to eat it, although thats only a very minor criticism as by this time we got to it we’d been sitting there quite a while, chatting and taking our time – it still tasted zingy and delicious, even if the beautiful shape had gone.
Overall, I have to say the Afternoon Tea at The Salt Room was probably the best I’ve ever experienced – I absolutely loved every moment of it. The food was quirky, unique and exquisitely created with such attention to detail. The restaurant is one of my favourites in Brighton, it’s sleek, stylish with beautiful seaviews – not to mention the amazingly helpful, friendly and knowledgeable staff (flowering tea incident aside!). I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone and would love to go again one day. The Afternoon tea is priced between £24.95-34.95 depending on drinks options, which I think is reasonably priced for such quality.
Although they do welcome children, I think looking back next time I’d try and go without the baby. The team did try to accommodate our pushchair eventually, but there were stairs to the main seating area on the mezzanine and I did feel a little on edge when Violet had a fussy moment as she was disrupting the atmosphere slightly – I worried other guests would get annoyed. Although you can take your children – I’d personally say it’s the perfect place for having some well-deserved ‘me time’ and to leave them at home!
We have also been to The Salt Room for dinner – read our review of that here.
You can book Afternoon Tea at The Salt Room either online or by calling (44)1273 929488. Afternoon Tea is served between 12:30pm – 4:30pm daily. The Salt Room is located on Brighton Seafront by the Hilton Metropole Hotel (106 King’s Rd, Brighton, BN1 2FU).
We were kindly offered Afternoon Tea free of charge in return of an honest review – all words, opinions and photography is my own.
Although I love my sweet treats – from towering hot chocolate with cream to endless bags of mini-eggs, when it comes down to it I’m quite conscious of nutrition and eat healthily most of the time. I also think being pregnant gives you another perspective on food – with every mouthful of food I’m feeding to our baby too, which naturally makes me so much more aware of everything I put into my system. So, when I was invited down to The Body Fuel Cafe in Hove, I was eager to give it a go as it seemed right up my street. I find when I’m out and about, it’s so easy to eat junk food, with most cafes are just loaded with tempting pastries, cakes and sugary drinks – it’s refreshing to see a place serving fresh, tasty food at reasonable prices too.
Inside the cafe, the seating area is light and airy, with a clean and fresh vibe – although towards the back of the cafe there are more private areas too, which would be perfect for cosy catch-ups, or maybe breastfeeding Mum’s who want a little more privacy.
The cafe is open daily from 8am (9am Saturdays and 11am Sundays) – starting of the day with breakfast options such as wholemeal blueberry pancakes, poached eggs, smoked salmon or smashed avocado. Come lunchtime, their super healthy salad bar is open. Plus, of course could just pop in at any time for a coffee and a (healthy) sweet treat too.
I recently popped in for a spot of lunch with a good friend of mine and healthy food lover, Tash. When we arrived we were instantly drawn to the colourful salad bar and decided to skip brunch and head straight for the lunch menu – so many options and all of the produce looked super fresh too. The menu for the Salad Bar is fully customisable – firstly you choose a protein – they have everything from lemon and dill chicken breast, various steak, fish options such as tuna, grilled salmon and lastly, veggie options of falafel and grilled halloumi. There is quite a selection! I was particularly impressed with this part, being a vegetarian (well, pescatarean technically) I often miss out on the ‘protein’ section or have a limited choice, but this left me spoilt for choice! Next up, is the base of your dish – Rice, Sweet Potato and Quinoa are just a few of the options here. Moving on, we visited the salad bar where you can choose a generous 6 items from the extensive list – you then top your dish with a dressing of your choice. Honestly, there is so much choice you could make about 1000 different combinations with all of the different ingredients and not eat the eat a different dish everyday!
Both Tash and I went for the grilled salmon, which was cooked to perfection and so fresh, we accompanied our meals with a couple of smoothies too. I tried the Tropical Delight (Orange, Honeydew Melon, Mango, Passion Fruit and Lime Juice) which packed a zingy punch and certainly woke my senses up! Tash went for the super healthy Go Green (fresh pineapple, spinach, avocado, lime, fresh ginger and coconut water). As you can see from the pictures below, our meals were absolutely full to the brim with goodness, nutrients and the freshest ingredients- not an additive or preservative in sight, plus it was all cooked within around 5 minutes too.
As we left I took a couple of sweet treats away to have once I got home – you know, maternity leave means afternoons are mainly spend on the sofa with a coffee and cake, so instead I got a take-away Not Naughty, Definitely Nice Smoothie (almond milk, banana, nut butter, raw cacao powder, vanilla, honey, cinnamon) and a delicious Date Protein Bar, as I’ve been eating 6 dates a day as it’s meant to help with labour – putting them in a protein bar seemed a perfect excuse to get my daily dose in as I’m getting sick and tired of eating pure dates alone these days!
I would 100% recommend trying the Body Fuel Cafe if you are local to Hove, it is so refreshing to know you are eating pure clean, fresh ingredients, plus it was so delicious it felt like a real treat too. My next meal there will be brunch – I think there are some wholemeal blueberry pancakes with my name on!
The Body Fuel Cafe is located at 123 Church Street, Hove – pop for some super tasty, healthy food next time you are passing!