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A la Colthard: Stanmer House and other Brighton restaurants

The restaurant at Stanmer House was a long favourite of mine. Situated in a handsome house in parkland with gracious salons full of portraits it had bit of something about it. I was therefore disgreeably surprised on arrival yesterday to be directed to an empty marquee in the garden where a carvery was served. The meat was good enough but the lady in charge was not friendly and there was no atmosphere at all. At £18 for the carvery it was reasonable enough, you could return for veg and more meat, but the experience was unsatisfying.

I have often experienced problems with service, slow and unhelpful, at the Malmaison. My recent visit was no exception.

The waiter took away my credit card and returned with a key saying it was safely locked away. This does not prevent it being cloned beforehand and when I complained this was the first time I had encountered such a procedure he said last week a diner left without paying with the clear inference I would do the same.

The mini burgers were tasty enough but this did not redeem the poor service.

Diners will often praise a small local restaurant for its home made food. This happened at the Crocodile at Saltdean.

However the service was slow, there was one loo, the waitress tripped over and sent coffee flying.

The home-made gnocchi was exceptionally good. It was a big party – I chipped in £30, by no means cheap, for a glorified cafe and two courses and one glass of wine.

Another old favourite Le Nantais Bistro didn’t let me down.

Their chateaubriand is the best I have ever tasted – cooked in a bouillon with the vegetables and accompanied by pommes dauphinois.

It’s the nearest thing in Brighton to an authentic French brasserie and much patronised by the French players of Brighton HAFC.

Eric the waiter assured me a warm welcome, enough to make my knees tremble!!!

Daphne Colthard
About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts