The Waterside – no not the famous one!

Dinner at The Waterside, the one in Eastbourne on the seafront that is, rather than the way more famous one in Bray on the riverside.

This Waterside is actually a very attractive boutique hotel close to the Pier. There is no formal reception area as the focus on entering is the stylish bar and restaurant.  We had booked our table for 7:00 mainly so we could get back to London at a reasonable time, and were shown to our table in the conservatory area – probably ideal in the summer but rather cold in atmosphere and temperature in the winter, despite the heating.  So with a bit of persuasion we got them to move us into the main restaurant area, which although fully booked could handle the change if we were able to vacate our table by 8:30.

The Waterside - Mustard Bread

I do like it when restaurants make an effort with the bread. The Waterside presented us with two different olive oils, some butter and a single piece of bread.  Does not sound that great does it, but when that single slice is a delicious piece of mustard bread, I have no complaints at all. Give me quality over quantity anytime.

I ordered the scallop dish for starters, and my companion went for the scotch egg with coronation style chicken and pickled onions, which on arrival looked very nice. However it was totally eclipsed by my scallop dish – Apsleys take note here – not 5 wafer thin slivers of scallop but 5 large juicy beautifully cooked scallops, accompanied by a mustard crème brulée and cashew nut baklava – yes there was quantity here, but it delivered on the quality too along with some imagination. For main course we ordered Plaice and Game Pudding.   There was nothing conventional about the Plaice, being served as it was with Dukkah and cauliflower – I really enjoyed this dish.  The delicate use of spices worked well, you could really taste the fish and the cauliflower. The potato cake it was served on was also good, really fluffy and light.  My companion enjoyed her Game Pudding too,  but did feel it was missing something and a little short of gravy. For dessert I had the carrot cake with caramelized banana and nuts and my companion had the more spectacular looking trio of crème brulée ABC (Amaretto – very nice, Bailey’s – subtle, Cognac – too subtle).

The Waterside has one AA Rosette, but in my view actually met the criteria for 2 Rosettes to the letter.

“Innovation, greater technical skill and more consistency and judgement in combining and balancing ingredients are all needed at this level.”

The timing on food delivery and service was quick, so there was no problem vacating the table for the next sitting.  It was a shame we had to leave,  as it would have been nice to relax in the bar and try out some of their reasonably priced cocktails (well reasonable by London prices at about £6 each). Eastbourne also looked lovely at night, beautifully lit and very grand.

Marks out of 10 for The Waterside

Food 6.8

Service 5.1

Ambience 5.5

UPDATE : April 2011 – Made a return visit to The Waterside to try more of the menu. There were a couple of dishes from the previous visit still on the menu, but enough had changed to make the return worthwhile. I had a lovely Mackerel dish to start, beautifully flavoured with lime juice. Then a Skate and gnocchi dish for main course (not the best cooked Skate, it was a bit stringy, but the gnocchi was very good), my companion had the Plaice, which was perfectly cooked.

We just had to try the Basil Ice Cream for dessert – a triumph. The Waterside is such a good find. I am sure I will be back to try a few more of the chefs innovations.

UPDATE : May 2011 – Just heard that The Waterside has won a  2nd AA Rosette.  I did see that one coming.  Well done to Lori Parsons and the restaurant team.



Another Restaurant in Eastbourne worth mentioning is Morgans, we did a walk in here for their set lunch (for the price of a cocktail in The Waterside). The food was well cooked and seriously good value – check out the picture of the pâté starter which came with hot fresh bread drizzled with olive oil, that alone was worth the money.

So it was a very productive day, with two good restaurant finds.

Marks out of 10 for Morgans

Food 5.5

Service 4.5

Ambience 4



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Mortons Club – Private dining

Mortons Club overlooking Berkeley Square, is often described as the best private members’ club in Mayfair.  Dressing appropriately is de rigueur.  Elegant attire and high heels for the ladies being encouraged in the evenings.  The Restaurant  is part of the Marlon Abela Restaurant Corporation and a sibling to The Greenhouse.  The restaurant has an excellent reputation,  some say if it were not a private members club it might merit 2 Michelin stars. Not quite there though in my view, but I have to say the food style and menu did rather remind me of The Waterside Inn (a 3 star Michelin).  So I can sort of see where that idea comes from.  The food is certainly of a very good standard. It is somewhat retro in style, with classic dishes like Steak Tartar and Crêpe Suzette (which we were tempted to order just for the table side service).

I started with braised octopus. The octopus was nicely cooked but rather lost in tomato sauce. Tasty though, it went well with my glass of Gavi di Gavi La Meirana, Piemonte, 2009.

My companion had the Fois Gras, not the best she has had (that’s at Pied à Terre), but certainly a good sized portion.  For my main course I ordered the Steak Tartar and appreciated the chance to have a tasting spoonful first so I could check it was not too spicy for me.   That was accompanied by very good french fries and a glass of M. Chapoutier, Saint-Joseph Les Deschants, Rhone, 2003. My companion had the Jacobs Ribs (short ribs) which were beautifully cooked – very tender beef.

For dessert I had an attractive, subtly flavoured lycee tartlet and coconut crumble with rose water ice cream and my companion had the Carmel parfait with Licorice ice cream – too many interesting combinations on the dessert menu to follow through on the Crêpe Suzette idea. We accompanied our desserts with a glass of Coteaux du Layon, Dom.des Sablonettes, 2004.

We decide not to bother with coffee, so it was a nice touch to be given the petit fours anyway – something that is often done in the better restaurants. However we were rather taken aback at just how spectacular looking the petit fours were, definitely not petit. My rather awful photograph (difficult lighting) really does not do them justice, it was a candy store. Marshmallow lolly-pop, chocolate bread stick, huge meringue, truffles, pastries and jellies, a real sugar rush.

(UPDATE June 2011 – We made a return visit and I managed to replace most of the old  pictures, but alas by the time we reached the dessert and petit fours the light was gone (even with the speedy service) so I have left the old ones in.  On this visit I particularly enjoyed my perfectly cooked lamb chops.  For dessert this time I had a lovely poached apple stuffed with cinnamon ice cream.

We also noticed on this visit that the menu had stronger Italian influences. It included some pasta and risotto dishes, and a cornetto dessert.)

The dining room is a nice size, about 40 covers I would guess, with a view over Berkeley Square. There were also plenty of staff so service was brisk.

The club itself is very pleasant, with some attractive modern art work from some mainstream artists like Julian Opie. It has two bar areas and a good size room ideal for party bookings. The lower membership fee for under 30’s obviously works, as the average age was definitely on the 30’s mark at least on a Saturday night, might be different during the week.

Mortons Club certainly seemed to be doing good business, there was no sign of the recession here!

Marks out of 10

Food 6.4

Service 5.9

Ambience 6.8


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Michelin Stars v AA Rosettes – Ding Ding!

No Expert has just hit the 100th post mark, so for that milestone rather than single out a restaurant, this post focuses on an issue that impacted on a number of our restaurant choices and that is can we trust Michelin Star and AA Rosette ratings alone.

I know there is a lot of debate over how accurate the Michelin star rating system is. I believe we have been to enough Michelin starred restaurants to give an opinion on the subject. Basically the  problems seem to be inconsistency and big name restaurants hanging on to stars they no longer merit. The Michelin star rating seems to be about as reliable as the S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list, i.e., not reliable at all.

The rating system definition for Michelin stars is:-

  • 1 star – A very good restaurant in its category
  • 2 stars – Excellent cooking, worth a detour
  • 3 stars – Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey

For more information see Michelin Guide

We have been to some 3 star and 2 star Michelin restaurants that are not in the same class as 1 star restaurants.  Compare Tom Aikens to The Waterside Inn for example.

The 5 AA Rosettes award however does seem to match our tastes. The ones on the list in England for example are among our all time favorite restaurants.

The rating system definition for 5 AA Rosettes :-

  • The supreme accolade awarded only when the cooking is at the pinnacle of achievement. Flavours, combinations and textures show a faultless sense of balance, giving each dish an extra dimension.

The rating system definition for 4 AA Rosettes :-

  • At this level, not only should all technical skills be exemplary, but there should also be daring ideas, and they must work. There is no room for disappointment. Flavours should be accurate and vibrant.

Then just when I thought I could maybe rely on the AA Rosettes I find out that one of our worst of the worst restaurants Harveys of Ramsgate has just been awarded one AA Rosette, and that another of our least favorite places Abode in Canterbury has 2.

The rating system definition for 1 AA Rosette :-

  • Chefs should display a mastery of basic techniques and be able to produce dishes of sound quality and clarity of flavours, using good, fresh ingredients.

The rating system definition for 2 AA Rosettes :-

  • Innovation, greater technical skill and more consistency and judgement in combining and balancing ingredients are all needed at this level

Our experience of Harveys of Ramsgate and Abode indicated that they were sadly lacking in several of the areas associated with the definitions.

For more information see:-

The conclusion is that research is essential before you  commit to the really expensive dining experiences in the high end restaurants.

  • Check out the food blogs.
  • Check out Hardens and Zagat.
  • Look for real customer reviews via Google Maps.
  • Be really wary of the hype.
  • Be wary of Celebrity Chef endorsements.

Click here to access our prefered Food Blog/Site list.

  • It is also worth trying one of the restaurants deals first, e.g., a pre-theatre or set lunch deal.  It is surprising just how many of the top restaurants do offer less expensive options. The toptable web site is a good place to start to find these deals.

The Waterside Inn – old fashioned comfort

I found the food at  The Waterside Inn in Bray to be quite conventional, fairly typical french haute cuisine. I have to admit I expected a lot more from a 3 star Michelin – I suspect at least 1 star applied to the location.

It was also a bit of a struggle to find a reasonably priced bottle of Champagne – the wine list was a bit daunting. That said it was a lovely day out. The Waterside Inn is a very comfortable venue. We made our selves at home, spending hours out on the terrace after lunch drinking brandy that was older than we were, and indulging in a little too much PX.

Here is a short video about The Waterside Inn:-


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The Fat Duck – OTT

The Fat Duck in Bray is the complete opposite of its near neighbour the Waterside Inn, The Waterside goes for old fashioned comfort (old money clientele), the Fat Duck does “flash” (new money clientele).


The room is minimalist in style and the food is excellent with very over the top presentation.

We visited before the recent alleged food poisoning problems, and experienced all the trade mark gimmicks – Dry Ice, Dragons Breath, IPods and the obligatory Snails Porridge. We also went for a matching flight of wines. There are two price options here, expensive and extortionate.  We restrained ourselves and kept the wine bill under £100 per person.

It was an experience, but I have to admit I missed the warmth of the Waterside Inn as once the meal is finished, there is no way you would want to hang around or indeed be encouraged to hang around in the rather cold room.  Then again I guess that is why Heston Blumenthal’s Hinds Head is only a few yards away.

The Fat Duck is currently number 2 on the S.Pellegrino World’s Best Restaurants list.



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