This weekend I was lucky enough to be visited by three very old friends indeed. The friends are not old, no no, but the friendships are, which is all the more special for someone like me who can quite justly be called a terrible, terrible friend. In a bid to make up for my appalling lack of correspondence and even worse track record of failing to attend many gatherings and get-togethers, I took them to some of Brighton’s finest eating and drinking establishments. I am, if nothing else, a firm believer that food heals everything.
On saturday evening we went to Pho on Black Lion Street, next to Jamie Oliver’s restaurant. A relaxed cafeteria-style restaurant with a couple of other branches in London, they serve a range of light and utterly delicious Vietnamese treats including delicate little spring rolls and exceptional cold noodle salads. Much chopstick silliness ensued.
Then we headed off to the cocktail bar of the Hotel Pelirocco on Regency Square for a couple of quiet drinks. I can’t stand most bars on a saturday night in Brighton (hens in fluro-pink t-shirts and stags in drag are only funny for so long. Not very long at all, as it happens) so it’s nice to have somewhere a bit off the beaten track to go and sample a few choice tidbits from the cocktail menu. Could you resist something called Fur Coat No Knickers? No, me neither.
Understandably we were feeling ever so slightly fragile the next morning, and as every good cocktail connoisseur knows, the only cure is a really, really good breakfast. On this lazy Sunday morning in Brighton there was only one place on our minds: Bill’s. Bill’s Produce Store fast became a breakfast institution in Lewes where, after twenty years as a grocery, it started serving food in 2001. A second branch was soon opened in Brighton’s North Laine where the hungover and the hungry flock like ravenous seagulls. This is why:
Oh, perfectly poached egg, what would Sunday be without you? Bill’s has been so successful, in fact, that in 2009 the business was bought by Richard Caring (sometime owner of The Ivy and Le Caprice) who is opening branches in select locations across the country. Rumour has it there have been a couple of additions to the menu, including chips and brand-name soft drinks (ahem, Coke), for the new branches outside cosmopolitan Sussex, but I’m sure that the quality of the produce and general atmosphere of cheery, casual gluttony will be unaffected.