I have stayed at the Artist Residence, Pimlico, London, and yesterday, though much nearer, I tried for the first time its sister hotel in Brighton. Both could be described as rustic/chic, plenty of wood, brick, big country drawers and chests in a cool, funky ambience.
The Brighton Artist has an acclaimed restaurant “The Set” and cocktail bar which I was trying out with the girlfriend that recommended it who is a hairdresser. She is one of those bubbly girls, born in Melbourne, to whom life has not always dealt a fair hand but takes it on with a refreshing mix of brio, humour and Aussie directness.
There was a mix up with my reservation but I have to say that was my fault and as I only booked the wrong hotel!
I was a tad sharp with the receptionist but bless her when she identified the wrong hotel, booked a taxi to take me there and told me it’s quite good.
This was a genuine description as it had a drawing room with armchairs, and round table with a partition to the bedroom. Just the job for Harvey Weinstein!!!
One of the pleasing features of both hotels is that they do not have a complex audio system which silly me cannot operate but an old fashioned Roberts radio playing my station of choice, Classic Fm. I soon drifted to the sounds of Debussy to a delightful nap as the sun set over the old West Pier and the I360 tower.
My friend dropped by and we had a cup of tea in the suite then repaired to the cocktail bar. The barman was a tubby Spaniard who like most Brighton barmen did much gyrating and shaking as he prepared the cocktails. As we perched on stools, he seemed to be intentionally avoiding eye contact and when I tried to order he did not appear to hear me. He was certainly unfriendly. An unfriendly barman is – or should be – a contradiction in terms: he/she should be a willing listener, a philosopher, a soul mate from the bottom of your glass, a man of the world. He was none of these. When I ordered my favourite cocktail, a Negroni, he said it was not one on the two for £8-50 list. These appeared to be of his own creation and were interesting enough and good value at £8.50 for twos but I enjoyed my £12 Negroni more.
My real beef began when the table was not ready for the time we reserved namely 8-30.
This was because there was an earlier sitting. Ok, it was small dining area but if you are going to have two sittings make sure the table is free by booked times. I made my feelings quite clear and we were served snacks in a cafe area. Eventually we sat down.
It was a grazing menu with paired wines. I am no fan of this: I like to choose my food not have it chosen for me, to select my wine and do not appreciate the intrusive, florid, oral presentation of the dishes by the waiter. The restaurant was so noisy that I could barely understand him. There was strange concoction of potatoes, chervil and onions which did not work, scallops with pea purée on a parsnip and waggi beef impressed us more.
One dessert, a sort of ice cream placed next to a green mush which my crimper friend said “ smelled and looked like grass”, did not attract either of us though we liked the chocolate one. None of the wines except for an Albariño were exceptional and the desert wine was a treacly sweet sherry. The bill was a steep £163 without service which I generously added give the problems with the booking.
My verdict was that the hotel was better value than the restaurant. Brighton has always had a naughty but deserved reputation for a dirty weekend. I can foresee The Artist in London Residence satisfyng that!! But girls don’t think your film career will begin with an offer of a massage in the suite!!!