On a surprisingly quiet Friday evening in Brighton last week, while desperately avoiding restaurants we’d already been to, my Mum and I came across this unassuming Italian café-restaurant-cum-food shop. It wasn’t our first choice on the street, but rather our realistic choice since our first choice was the vegetarian restaurant Terre À Terre, which from one past experience we already knew would tell us they were fully booked even as we looked at a restaurant with the majority of its tables empty.
But for its visible popularity with early-evening diners like ourselves and its Latin name, we would have easily passed Edendum by. But any doubts about the place that I had were soon quashed by the friendliness of the waiter, who welcomed us in with a smile and offered to hang up my coat on the coat pegs on the other side of the room as I looked bemusedly at the coat pegs directly above our table, and by the delicious food. We shared a seafood-laden Pizza Gennaro (£13.95) and a salad (£13.65) with a mouthful of a name – Spinaci freschi, arancia, melograno, caprino e salmone marinato – and my Mum had a Peroni Nastro Azzurro beer (£4.00).
I liked how the menu tried to be exciting without being unpretentious. By that I mean the dessert menu had a seriously tempting Gelato caldo (lit. “hot ice cream”), which I suspected was less innovative that it sounded but still marked it down on my eat-list, and yet the salad that we ordered was advertised in the menu as Chinese dishes often are, where what you see is what you get. And now, in the process of reviewing the restaurant, I’ve also discovered that the San Marzano tomatoes used to make the pizza base are, according to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, “considered by many chefs to be the best of its kind in the world”. Edendum is as quality-conscious as its wall-printed brand concept blurb claims to be.
The squids, mussels, mini octopus, and crevettes atop the pizza were cooked to juicy tenderness, and the only drawback was the inability to eat the pizza after cutting it into slices without the aid of cutlery. But if you think of the pizza as a seafood dish with an edible plate, then by Jove that plate is tasty! I am not a fan of pizza crust nor a fan of salad with fruit in it that isn’t fruit salad, but the gutsy flavours of the salad – the saltiness of the capers and marinated salmon, the tart orange slices, the sweet pomegranate seeds, and the hint of bitterness from the spinach – when eaten with the pizza crust served to liven up my mouthfuls of plain pizza dough.
I liked the simple and considerate décor and space-saving layout of the place. Besides a modern bar dining-area the restaurant was also brightly lit by what looked like torches covered with transparent candle-extinguishers. I don’t like dimly-lit restaurants where you find it difficult to make out what you’re eating and feel like it’s bedtime, so this aspect of the restaurant scored an instant “like” from me as I took my seat. Our table had a small bright orange vase with a small flower bouquet arranged by the students of St. John’s School and College, a school for autistic children. This was my first encounter with one of the institutions my agency sponsors, and I was happy to see Edendum supporting it too. A few wooden steps at the back led to the toilets, one female one male, sharing two sinks outside and the male cubicle entered by a wooden screen door. The toilets were kept clean, airy, and odourless – they were not just a semblance of cleanliness created by overpowering air fresheners. The only improvement I would make is to fill up the shelves a bit more – they are too vacant at the moment to look inviting.
To sum our evening up, it was spent in a well-thought-out area for people to enjoy a good meal in, which filled up quickly as the evening progressed. When we arrived the other diners were seated near the front door, at the bar area or at the tables by the street-facing window. By the time we left, several more groups had entered, including a large group with children occupying several tables at the back. It was an animated atmosphere that we left, and one that we would be happy to rejoin in the future.
Find Edendum at: 69 East Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1HQ
Bonfire boys pulling carts of burning tar, waiting for the processions in Lewes to begin
Bonfire Night is on Saturday this year, and where better to head than to Lewes, where one of the country’s oldest bonfire festivities are still celebrated every year? The Lewes Bonfire is held annually on 5th November, the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, but Bonfire Night is not just about Guido Fawkes. The Sussex bonfire tradition originated from the Tudor times and commemorates Protestant martyrs as well as protests against unpopular figures and events. Fire processions were seen as dangerous expressions of the common people – in 1847 magistrates who read the Riot Act to the bonfire boys in Lewes were thrown into the river Ouse. Some still held processions illegally though, chanting “we wunt be druv” (“we won’t be driven”), and thanks to them the Lewes Bonfire Night is still celebrated to this day. It is the largest event of its kind in the county, and the largest in the country in terms of the number of people involved in organising and parading. I went to see the spectacle last year, on its 410th anniversary and would heavily recommend it – if you’re able to go despite the Southern Rail strikes, that is. Remember no trains are running to Lewes on the day of the event this year. On a normaly year however, around 50,000 people attend the event, so here’s how to make sense of the crush.
- Buy tickets for the Cliffe fire site (where effigies are burnt) a week in advance. Because they will be sold out by the day of the event. The Cliffe Bonfire Society has the most popular fire site due to their notorious effigies. Cliffe tickets last year cost £5. There are other fire sites though, the tickets for which you can buy at the gate.
- Don’t travel by car. There will be no parking space.
- Be prepared for loud bangs at any moment. People start exploding things on the ground from around 4:30pm.
- Join the walking tour of Lewes if you arrive early. Last year the organiser ran 2 tours, each lasting roughly 1h30m, meeting at the train station at 3pm and 5pm. Payment proportionate to how much you enjoyed it is accepted at the end of the tour. For more information see http://www.meetup.com/guided-walks-in-BrightonandSussex/.
- Don’t panic if you’re late to the event. The adult procession lasts for 2 hours (6:30-8:30pm; the children’s one is 4:30-6:30pm) and repeats its route several times. Participants may split to head in different directions but all travel down the Lewes High Street from the Tourist Information Centre to the Lewes Fish Bar. The big one featuring almost all the participants starts at around 8pm.
- Don’t buy bonfire programmes at the first instance you’re approached. There will be sellers throughout Lewes, from several different bonfire societies. The programmes give you an idea of the tradition of the bonfire night, and that one society’s link to it in particular. Not all societies in general. More than one will claim to be the oldest. Programmes cost around £2 to £3.
- Wear wellies. Even if it is not wet it will still be muddy at the fire sites and the parade route will be filled with rubbish.
- Watch the procession from the junction where Westgate Street meets the High Street. That’s where all participants will pass through. It’s also where most of the policemen are, which means less shoving and rowdy behaviour allowed.
- Look out for the topical giant effigies. Last year it was Prime Minister David Cameron, the then-suspended FIFA chief Sepp Blatter, and the former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. Oh, and a record-breaking attempt by the Lewes Borough Bonfire Society to mark the 410th anniversary of the Lewes Bonfire Night.
- Do walk along the High Street in between parade-watching. Residents may throw down sweets for the crowd from upper storey windows.
- Don’t worry if it’s raining. Free rain ponchos will be provided at the train station. And no matter how heavy and long the shower, the show will still go on.
- Leave at 9pm after the procession. By all means trudge through the mud at the fire sites to watch the effigies burn, but if you’re working the day after you’ll want to get home as quickly and cleanly as possible. There is no queue at this time, and you’ll be able to watch fireworks go off in the distance whilst waiting for the train.