Just when you think it’s time to move on and try something different friends, blog followers and a network of cafe lovers draw you right back to where you were. Hearing that so many followers noticed that Cafedharma hadn’t been updated in a while has propelled me on to new cafes, new stories and lots more tea. So while my copywriting work ebbs and flows the life of a cafe blogger goes from strength to strength.
Brighton city centre is usually thronged with crowds and I generally try to only venture there if I really have to. But there is a bit of a breathing space now, set back from the road by the clock tower that is the New York Coffee Club. Fans of Peter Andre will already know of it, he of Aussie singing fame and one time husband of Brighton’s very own Jordan, and it seems that he’s a dab hand at knowing what people like in the way of cafes.
It’s light and airy helped along with south east facing windows and white painted brick walls with black, white and red highlights from the tables, seating and lights. There are some huge photos of the New York skyline and yellow taxi cabs for the big apple vibe bringing back memories of my trip there last September. Bagels and hot dogs feature as well as hot breakfast muffins and a great selection of cakes and sweet treats.The cafe has its own bespoke crockery with the legend ‘Fuel for the city’. The kiddies play area goes down well with the yummy mummy set so they can sip on their lattes knowing that junior is happily playing. I found the staff particularly friendly and helpful especially when I spilt my jug of milk all over the table. They look smart kitted out as they are in their distinctive red and black uniforms.
There’s a glass display case of Peter’s and the cafe’s memorabilia for sale so you can be in no doubt who is the energy behind this venture. I didn’t see the man himself on my visit but the possibility of that and my enjoyable first visit will mean I’ll be back for more at the New York Coffee Club. In between, of course, trying out lots more new places for my devoted cafedharma followers.
The Meeting Place has a scruffy sort of charm about it. Only a short bike ride for me along the seafront cycle path, I’ve been coming here for years attracted by its promenade location. Being completely outdoors, in the summer the cafe has hordes of tables and chairs spread around its terrace. When it’s cooler, like now near the the winter solstice, then it’s the hardy few who venture here well wrapped up to grab a beach side table. Its bold, canary yellow wind breakers give shelter from the breeze. Pigeons and seagulls abound here so you can’t be too squeamish about them coming close daring to scavenge a few morsels of your food.
Some years ago the cafe was demolished and reborn a few yards further east along the seafront, significant in that those few yards now mean that you can buy your tea or coffee in Brighton and drink it sitting in Hove. The Angel Peace statue also straddles the boundary between the two towns and heralds this popular cafe.
All the staff are Polish, friendly and eager to practice their English. The cafe is open 365 days a year from dawn serving breakfasts and hot drinks to the dog walkers, joggers and early risers in general to dusk where it catches those reluctant to tear themselves away from the beach. It’s even open on Christmas day and I’ve seen the queues stretching back in their masses with customers seemingly impervious to the long wait. There are so many food and drink deals they are too many to mention but if it’s no nonsense fillers and home baked cakes you’re looking for then this is your place.
Christmas is nearly upon us again and it seems to come around quicker and quicker each year.The early setting sun was transforming the watery blue of the sky into a peachy glow while the skeletal West Pier slumbered peacefully on the calm December sea. At least down here by the The Meeting Place Cafe you can take some time out, swapping the demands of last minute present buying at the shops for breathing in the fresh air and wonderful seascape for the price of a cuppa.
I often bump into friends in cafes and it’s these unexpected meetings that are often the most enjoyable. On Tuesday having just dropped off some old camera gear at Clock Tower Cameras I was strolling through Pavilion Gardens when I remembered that there was a new cafe through the south archway. The possibilities of somewhere new is always a draw for a cafe lover like myself. Just as I was deciding which tea to have who should walk in but a friend who is a photography lecturer in London.
The Pavilion Tea Co. has taken over the space that used to be occupied by the Pavilion shop which has moved into the adjoining space that used to be the tourist office. It’s on a small, pedestrianised side road that leads onto the Pavilion Estate and lined mainly with other cafes and restaurants.
Loose teas are the speciality here and the look is of a traditional oriental tea sellers. Colourful tea containers in hues of red, yellow and brown are stacked up on dark wooden shelving along the main wall with hexagonal fringed yellow lampshades hanging down. The royal blue velvet seating along by the large arched windows looked very inviting and the bespoke wooden tables and chairs complete the look.
The cakes and savouries all looked delicious and the lunch box deal of one of their savoury tray bakes or quiche with seasonal salad at £4.95 should be a crowd puller.Tea is served in grey cast iron teapots, just like in Hove Museum tearoom, being also run by Peyton and Byrne, and there’s a superb choice if you’re a bit of a tea aficionado.
My friend and I got chatting and soon moved on to photography. Her students were down from London to do a Graham Greene’s ‘Brighton Rock’ book cover assignment. I was able to update her on my forays into interiors copywriting with possible accompanying photography and my subsequent digital upgrade. Her wise comment that it’s more about the development of the ideas of the person behind the lens than the camera which is just a tool is worth remembering. It was great chatting photography again and reminded me of my college course taken some years ago.
Clock Tower Cameras phoned later with their quote and it’s just about enough to buy a new digital SLR It will probably take some time to learn how to get the best from it but I’ve always loved taking photos and it looks like a new opportunity is opening up for me. All the better with the support of like minded friends. ‘A happy accident’ remarked my friend at the happenstance of meeting each other. For me too the synthesis of photography, writing and tea too of course.
Find out more about the Pavilion Tea Co. Cafe
Blaker’s Park is set on a tiny handkerchief patch of land up at Fiveways. Its sloping angle catching the sun. For a small park it crams in plenty of goodies like tennis courts, kids play area and even a cafe. I’d cycled up to this part of town to visit a friend whose daughter has just had a new baby and to see the newborn Saphia for the first time. The park was strangely quiet for a warm August afternoon. Just a few tennis players and some kids playing around with their bikes.
Trees are abundant here, tall and well rooted in full foliage giving shade where its needed. There’s an impressive clock tower painted in the City Council’s trademark green topped off with a golden fish weather vane balancing on top. At a quarter to three it was most definitely tea time. So a mug of Redbush and a slice of fruit and seed flapjack later I was sitting by one of the tables set on the grass in front of the small cafe building. The cafe, originally the tennis clubhouse, faces south-west to best catch the summer sun and there are tables and seating on the small decking area too. Sited directly next to the tennis courts, the thwack of tennis balls is a pleasing background rhythm to time spent here.
August, for me, has been one of those months where other peoples lives have touched on my own. It’s a joy when it’s birthdays you’re celebrating or when a child has been born healthy. But other personal dramas playing out around you can be a bit more challenging to address. Recently a friend’s parent died after a long illness and another friend’s new relationship broke up rather brutally. I sought some advice from a friend who is training to be a therapist and counsellor as to how best to handle these sort of situations after showing initial empathy. ‘It’s all about reflecting back what the talker feels. It’s important to show these good listening skills while at the same time moving the conversation forward.’ Insightful, helpful advice and worth remembering when I’m next called upon in a crisis.
Even when the sun is shining it doesn’t always imply that lives are going according to plan. Hopefully I’ll be more prepared next time for when real life intervenes. Meanwhile life goes on; births, deaths and everything in-between. And the cafe at Blaker’s Park is a good a place as any to ponder over life’s celebratory moments as well as its uncertainties.
London Road is undergoing a bit of a transformation at the moment including a revamp of the open market and re-building of the Co-op site to student accommodation. The building work and constant heavy traffic with all the noise and fumes that accompany the congestion can be a bit unappealing so I’m not often around this part of town. This is likely to change now with the kind of transformation that interests me most -the opening of a new cafe. The blackboard outside the former Methodist church by the pavement tables states ‘First cup of the day before 10.30 just 99p’ Inside the lobby and through to Emporium a vast space opens up that’s undergone a metamorphosis into a wonderful vintage cafe with loads of natural light and not a sound from the traffic outside.
The reclaimed wooden counter is heaped with all manner of goodies from locally supplied cakes, muffins and tray bakes with pies, pasties and sausage rolls from I’s Pies and Guy’s Pies for those looking for something more substantial. At lunchtime there’s a home made salad buffet for £5.95 with all ingredients locally sourced and seasonal. I ordered my bargain mug of tea and took my choice from the loads of recycled sofas for somewhere comfy to sit.
The over riding sensation here is one of space. A clever use of muted colour with the high wooden ceiling sporting dangling bare light bulbs further accentuate the simplicity of the shabby chic style. Long copper coloured drapes hang by the huge long windows and there are fresh flowers and plants on tables. The pistachio tongue and groove rises to window ledge height with white plaster or bare brickwork on the walls above. Some of the original stained glass windows remain as a reminder of the building’s former use as a church. Organised religion and church going was a theme of my childhood and early teenage years but this is more the kind of church I’m happy to sit around in now. paying homage to a great mug of tea.
There is also a theatre and performing space here with a programme of events already lined up for the autumn including Morlington Mysteries, Burlesque Life Drawing, Arias by Candlelight and the Ragroof Tea Dance. Movie memorabilia fans will appreciate the current display of copies of signature Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe dresses in the exhibition area. It’s the sort of cafe that you can settle down in to appreciate and enjoy the large space. One that makes it well worth stepping away from the busyness of London Road outside to the vintage sanctuary within.
Emporium events, contact and more.
Those happiest in life seem to be the fortunate individuals who have found their niche and have managed to make doing their own thing a way of life as well as a way of making a living. The rest of us are a bit in awe of them and are gently working our way towards making our skills, talents and personalities work in tandem with our chosen line of paid work.
Up a little side street just off the seafront is Bom-Bane’s Cafe. It’s one of those cafes that bears all the hallmarks of having an owner with more than a smidgen of individuality. I was there as part of The Brighton and Hove Independent Coffee Shop Meet-Up Group for a mid-morning get together and chat. It was when my pot of tea sitting on the table seemed to be moving further away from me as I went to pour myself some more that I started to realise that this was no ordinary cafe. I wasn’t going mad – the table was actually slowly rotating. All the tables do something quirky at Bom-Bane’s and I was sitting at the Turn Table, others are named the Tablerone, Twenty Seven Chimes Table, Uns-Table and Water Table and do all manner of unexpected things. So much so quirky. And the glass water tumblers had a bur at the bottom of each glass so that they didn’t sit flat on the table but gently rolled around a bit.
Everyone seemed happy with their teas and coffees and we soon got down to the not so serious business of chatting and getting to know each other. Meet-Up groups seem to attract a gregarious mix of lively and diverse characters and here I met a very well travelled train driver, a counselor and a former accountant turned copywriter.
As well as specialising in cooking delicious home cooked European food Jane Bom-Bane, the owner, is also a musician and holds music nights on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s and film nights on Wednesday’s in the downstairs space. Her performance evenings with her fellow musician Kate Daisy Grant, the first or second Friday/Saturday of the month, after a set three course meal , all for £15 are well known to regulars. So Bom-Bane’s declaration of ‘cafe, bar and more’ on their blackboard outside more than exceeds this remit whether this refers to their quirkiness or the numerous events hosted. We could do well in taking a leaf from Jane’s book who very much seems to have the work/talent dilemma sorted.
Thanks to Julie for hosting the Meet-Up event.
My daughter’s American dream has come true. So instead of being at boring old home for the summer she’s got three days notice of her flight to the States for her post as camp director with Camp America. It seems teens these days don’t let the grass grow under their feet.
Other people have different dreams. I first met Cameron at a Brighton Explorers social during the winter where she spoke avidly about her new cafe venture that would be opening soon. Fast forward a few months and Milk No Sugar is now up and running.
Sitting on the north side of Trafalgar Street just down from the station bridge it catches the sun most of the day through the large windows. Billed as an artisan coffee maker, Cameron is extraordinarily knowledgeable about coffee making and is rightly proud of her skills with the full low down on how it should all be done. Tea drinkers have not been forgotten though and there’s plenty of choice here too of quality tea varieties.
The style of the cafe is the minimalist industrial look but the warm welcome from Cameron and her team softens the edges of this pare-backed style. There are loads of freshly made on site sandwiches and they also have breakfast and brunch specialities such as bacon baps and lots of tasty stuff on toast all listed on the chalked up blackboards. Their cakes and cookies contain much of the gluten and wheat free variety and I sampled the almond and rose cake which had been made by their very own multi-talented barrista, pictured right.
There are lots of nice touches like the charity library of paperbacks stacked up along the window ledge. In the centre of the large space there’s a table that will seat eight that Cameron tells me is popular for meetings and has all the day’s newspapers laid out to choose from. But if you don’t fancy catching up on the day’s news there’s always the constantly changing panorama that is Trafalgar Street to watch outside. From skateboarders whizzing down the hill to vintage styled fashion students parading their individual look all of Brighton style is there to see.
Cameron has lots of ideas to make full use of the large cafe space she has available to her . She’s already hosted a yoga evening and has a Buddhist introduction talk as well as art house foreign language film evenings planned. A loyalty card will be introduced soon which will be a must for all lovers of great coffee.
So as the new kid on the block, Milk No Sugar has plenty of competition in this cafe packed street. However, with their unique selling point of producing an artisan cup of coffee it looks like they’re having no trouble attracting the coffee cognoscenti. It’s hard work and long hours starting up a new cafe business but Cameron obviously loves what she does.
My teen daughter is starting out on her dream very soon which will be hard work and a great adventure. Wonder if she’ll mind me popping in for a quick visit and a chat…..
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