A mini-break, you say? To Brighton, you say? A chance to have some girly fun with fellow blogger Miscriant and try some new places, you say?
So it was that I decided to stop talking to myself and a get a train to the fair seaside town with my dear friend Becky for a night and day sampling Brighton’s delights. Miscriant will no doubt be blogging of our exploits herself, so please do visit her splendid blog and compare notes. Hers will probably less drunk then mine.
We decided on a blogging break at the last minute – Becky’s husband was abroad for work, I had some holiday to use up and I think the beau was dead or something that weekend – so we threw caution to the wind and snapped up some tasty deals on hotels and train tickets. I scoured Twitter for recommendations of where to visit, and we were blown away by the responses (thanks Visit Brighton for spreading the word).
We departed Canterbury on Friday, each dragging suitcases containing far too many outfits for a one night trip, and arrived in Brighton around three hours later.
A nice bottle of train wine helped our journey.
Becky had recommended The Queen’s Hotel right on the seafront, and I found a twin room for £84 for the two of us. When we arrived, we couldn’t believe the size of the room we’d been given – king sized bed and a generous single with views of the promenade and the sea*, and a lovely bathroom.
Then Becky found another door….which revealed another double bedroom. We had a frigging corner suite!
I didn’t have the chance to try the spa, but Becky had visited before and recommends it. The only downside of our giant room was that it faced the street and on a Friday night, when things get festive late into the evening, it was pretty noisy. Fortunately, I’d drunk my weight in gin so passed out comfortably on our return, so it’s down to how heavy a sleeper – or drinker – you are.
I insisted on a power nap, and then Becky and I preened for our night out.
We had been sent several recommendations for places to visit on Twitter, and by locals, so started with The Black Lion just round the corner from the hotel – a lovely, beautiful pub with a lively atmosphere, fine ale and gin selection, and the promise of late night ska music; we would return later.
Then it was on to The Mesmerist to laze in a booth and test our cameras – Becky with a G&T, my with a pint of Dark Star Hophead (I cannot resist Dark Star beer. It’s in my blood).
The bar claimed to be inspired by ‘gin lanes, burlesque and steampunk’ – which translates as leather sofas, dark wood, weird paintings and suits of armour. Drinks were reasonable and the vibe was good.
Then we had to find food. This was tricky. We’d found a couple of recommendations but they were way out of our walking range, and one did not take reservations and was full by the time we arrived.
We wandered through the Laines, stomachs growling and shoes started to pinch, when we discovered this little gem: Oki-Nami.
People probably know about this place. All of Brighton probably knows about this place. It’s co-owned by Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) for crying outloud. But we didn’t know. We figured we’d get some Japanese food and crack on.
The host, and owner, greeted us and gave us a great table by the window. Becky and I chose from the Oki set menu – three courses for £22.95.
We ordered a pair of cocktails, and when we tasted them we knew we were on to a good thing. Absolutely spot on – sharp and bursting with flavour, perfect for the meal.
The starters arrived. My sushi selection was well presented and on the money – I’ve tasted more exciting sushi in my life, but it was still tasty.
But Becky’s Nikku Gyoza, which I stole, were incredible. Melt in the mouth goodness, best Gyoza I’ve ever tasted.
For our mains, we both went for the teriyaki dishes – salmon for me, chicken for Becky. Again, the food was delicious – sweet and spicy marinade, yielding fish, braised vegetables and sticky rice.
We couldn’t resist dessert and ordered the flourless chocolate orange cake with plum liquor infused ice cream. Jut gorgeous, and light enough not to feel too sinful.
As we nibbled, we noticed several people had slipped past the restaurant’s front door and had disappeared up a curious flight of stairs at the back of the building. Indeed, the restaurant’s centre piece was an impressive spiral staircase. The owner told us that people were heading to their cocktail bar.
We needed no further encouragement. Filled with good food, we climbed the spiral staircase to sample more drinks.
We really felt like we’d hit the jackpot with this bar/restaurant. It was clearly popular with locals, and the cocktails promised untold levels of debauchery. I can’t resist a good espresso Martini (and after a meal it’s basically a digestifs, so it’s stupid NOT to have one), and these did not disappoint. I managed two while Becky stuck to her concoction. As I said in my previous post, I’m a fast drinker.
We just had time to dash back to The Black Lion to listen to their ska DJ before retiring to the hotel bar for a final few gins, and then bed at 1am.
Okay it was 2am. I think.
My next post will cover Saturday and our adventures in a zero wasteland…
*These views were lovely, but as we were on the 1st floor and Brighton is a popular place, the curtains remained closed for much of the stay so that no passers-by would see my nakedness as I strutted about, pretending I was King of all hotel rooms.