Meet Brighton Food Reviewer, Lizzie Enfield
I grew up in a time and place when eating out was a real treat, a huge occasion, something that had to be occasioned by something – a big birthday, unbelievable exam results, a long lost relative re-materializing – that sort of thing.
It was something to look forward to, to dress up for and often something to be mildly disappointed by. Shepherd’s pie at the Dog and Dumping with a glass of warm Liebfraumilch -what was all the anticipatory fuss about?
How times have changed.
I eat out all the time now: with friends and family, for business and pleasure. It still feels like a treat, just one you can treat yourself to for almost no reason at all. Finished an article. Let’s go out. Son tidies room. Let’s celebrate. Nothing in the fridge/ I bet the pub down the road has a fridge full of rich pickings.
Spoiled for choice
And the pickings really are rich now, especially here in Brighton and Hove. We’re spoiled for choice. Just about every pub is a gastro pub, almost every café verges on a deli and so many restaurants are worth writing home about.
Sometimes I get nostalgic for bad food: I wonder if there’s anywhere left that serve that serves mince and potatoes, cooked to imperfection, or fish and chips without the heritage potatoes and herby butter?
But that’s just being picky and it’s hard to be picky when there’s so much good food about and so many reasons to get out and eat it.
Sometimes it’s work (I write for number of newspapers and publications including the Guardian and Great British Food magazine). Sometimes research (I also write novels and characters have to eat and drink somewhere!). Sometimes it’s staying sane (I work from home and need to get out and see people) and sometimes it’s just because, well, I fancy a treat.
Favorite well-known chef and why?
I admire Jamie Oliver’s crusading zeal but a lot of celebrity chefs are more celebrity than chef so I’m going to plump for Elizabeth David because she wrote so beautifully and was the kind of adventurer and pioneer I’d like to have been, had I been born in another era.
David studied in Paris and sailed off to Italy with a married man. Later they escaped from Greece, when it was invaded by Germany, to Egypt where she ran a library in Cairo before returning to England and wondering why everyone put up with such abysmal post war food.
Her writing on French and Italian cuisine was hugely influential. She popularised hitherto virtually unheard of ingredients, like pasta and Parmesan, olive oil and aubergines. She showed us a new bar and we’re all happily swinging from it now.
I can’t single out one… I love Indian Summer, because the food’s fab and the chef’s are friends, and Terre a Terre because, although I’m not veggie, lots of friends are and the food is great, even if by nature you crave a carcus.
I’m fond of the Bali Brasserie because the setting is so incongruous (exotic interior in an ugly tower block) and my husband used to take me there when we first met a million years ago.
The Open House pub at the end of my street does great pub food and has open fires in winter and the best beer garden in summer. Archipelago on Western Road is like going to Greece, just without the sunshine. Oh, and Al Fresco because the food’s great, the setting is spectacular and the staff treat you like an old friend, even if you’ve never been before.
What areas are of great importance to you when you visit a restaurant?
Being treated like an old friend! Friendly atmosphere. Not being squashed in and being able to hear people speak. Staff that go the extra mile – slipping out to buy marmite, if marmite and mash is your thing, or finding out exactly where the cutlery came from if you decide the fork is the best fork you’ve ever eaten off!
Good food, decent wine and anything else that makes eating out still feel like a treat.