I have frequently reviewed high end restaurants and country gastro pubs in East and West Sussex but not the quirkier cafes in which Brighton and its environs abound. Yet these are more patronised than the well known eateries or inns by locals.
These are harder to find outside Brighton but there has been a shift as house prices rose to the east to Saltdean which has a 30s style lido and Seaford.
I was meeting two colleagues one of whom resides in Seaford and I selected Crocodile.
It’s a family owned Italian cafe restaurant in the main street of Saltdean.
Mamma is in charge, one son – and a very handsome dark youth he is too!!! – took the order whilst another cooks in the kitchen. The prices of fare are more than fair, under £10 for a decent bowl of pasta.
I opted for Spaghetti Carbonara, a dish I have eaten over many years. It should be cooked with egg yolk not butter, with fried pancetta and slightly salty. This was pitch perfect. The other two praised their pastas.
The service was friendly with a slight but not unwelcome air of chaos. The total bill was £50 with bruschetta starters, coffee and non-alcoholic drinks. It was appreciably better than those chain high Italian restaurants that are going out of business and the pasta was of such a high standard that had I paid inflated London prices for this I would not have complained.
Over lunch we spoke of the the strange fate that can propel one of the millions of websites out there – and, dare I say it, the Rust – to global prominence and massive riches for its shareholders. It can happen with restaurants too.
Old man Tatou, a fisherman, started to serve delicious bouilllbaisse from a shack on the beach in Antibes France. Word spread and the customers came. Now his traditional recipe bouillabaisse in a modern setting costs a mere €59!
Maybe the world will flock to Saltdean to savour freshly made pasta at Crocodile. I hope so.