Food Glorious Food @ Marmalade Kemptown
I confess that this is not the first time I have been to Marmalade. In fact, I have been there many times. We often go on a Saturday or Sunday, and the car journey is always full of hope. “I hope there’s not a queue. I hope there’s a table. I hope they have the fennel salad I had last week.” So you won’t be surprised to hear that this was very much how our journey went for this review.
I first heard about Marmalade when they were serving coffee and sandwiches from their vintage van parked directly outside the new American Express building. Then, one day, that amazing coffee and those incredible sandwiches just disappeared. A short time later I spotted a place that happened to have the same name. I had found the source!
Marmalade is one of my favourite places
Marmalade has become one of my favourite places to eat breakfast or to have lunch at the weekend. It doesn’t bother me that it is the other side of town (for me that is) or that it’s not central, because for me it’s about food, and coffee of course.
Breakfast at Marmalade is made to order from a set menu, scrambled eggs on toast or bacon, beans and toast etc. Although they do not offer a full English breakfast, I don’t think any of us feel hard done by. My personal favourite is the toasted banana bread with stewed berries – which are everso slightly sour – and thick yoghurt, it’s exceptional.
Lunch at Marmalade is simple: mouthwatering tarts and quiches (mostly vegetarian with meat options always available), served with your choice of two exciting salads. Yes, I said salad; Waldorf style salad with walnuts and blue cheese, truly ripe and tasty tomatoes with olives and shallots, or a mixture of grated cabbages, let’s not confuse this with ordinary coleslaw, it is so much better than that.
Marmalade is all about bringing fresh ingredients to life.
All of the salads seem to include an ingredient that in any other restaurant I would actively avoid. My experience of Marmalade is such that I have complete trust in their choice of combinations which always work. Yes, we should be having fig and apples in our salads and, yes I like quinoa. Marmalade is all about flavour, all achieved through quality ingredients, great recipe combinations, and generous amounts of salt. Ahem, I mean seasoning. Part of my trust and my willingness to try comes from the way the food is presented. You can see all the food on display which is much more inviting than just reading off a menu.
We arrive! No queue, and yes they have a table.
Quick, grab a table!
We start to make decisions: tarts, quiches, and salads. But just as you start to give you order a queue begins to form and you begin to panic, we need to stake a claim to a table, quick! One of us needs to leave the queue. It can sometimes be too much. Usually this isn’t a problem but it’s the fact that you want to eat everything on the counter and you need time to decide which one. Let’s face it, we won’t be back till next weekend. Winter is round the corner and soon we will be hanging coats on the back of chairs, but until then it’s either risk your phone or your keys. Marmalade is always busy. Don’t be fooled when you arrive and there it isn’t, it will be in the next two minutes when your table has been taken by someone who arrived 5 minutes after you. The popularity of this place has to be testament to all it offers.
Exciting quiche and salad
I think what I most love about this place is that normally I would not get excited about ordering quiche and salad. But, when it arrives it is so well presented and it looks inviting to eat. And it’s at that first mouthfull that you realise this is no ordinary quiche and this is not your standard salad.
This week it was Salmon and courgette quiche, Warldorf style salad, and salted blanched kale and pine nuts coated in vinegar. We also tried the tomato, onion and soft cheese tart on filo pastry, again with the Warldorf style salad with blue cheese and walnuts on a bed of lettuce, and the tomato salad with shallots, rocket and apple. As the majority of the lunch dishes are already made up this means service is quick. I have always received great service at Marmalade and the staff work very hard to keep up with demand.
It works and it needs no tweaking
Marmalade is clearly offering Anglo-French fusion at its best and sticking to traditional templates of many French families. It works and needs no tweaking.
How will Marmalade grow in order to serve the rest of Brighton? Will it? Should it? Will the Vintage Van come out of retirement, or will there be another Marmalade in Brighton? Whatever the dream I hope that the food, its ingredients, the service are never diluted and that we can all continue to enjoy gloriously tasty Marmalade.