Cafe Plenty – Galvanising a sense of community in a forgotten part of Brighton
Despite opening seven months ago, I’m only just getting around to trying out the menu at Cafe Plenty, located at Vantage Point, just by Circus Parade. It’s 10 am on a Saturday morning and I’m here for breakfast but it looks like the whole of Brighton has had the same idea. Luckily they’ve reserved a table for me.
The decor is cool but cosy with a neutral colour palette brought to life by local artwork from the likes of Henry Rowsell and Gerry Wilmer, part of the Alt Open House exhibitions across Brighton & Hove. Rope hung filament bulbs dangle at different heights from the ceiling, alongside twinkling fairy lights, wrapped around decorative branches. It’s Instagram heaven.
Before any food choices can be made a latte is in order because I’m not wide awake yet. The coffee tastes good, smooth and locally made by Coffee At 33, using a blend of Brazilian and Sumatran beans. I wait a little while, wondering when the menus will be brought over and my order taken. I’m not in a rush but after 10-15 minutes or so I surmise that Cafe Plenty doesn’t do a full table service and I must have to go up to the counter to place my order.
I squint to see the blackboard menu which is hung on the exposed brick wall within a gold gilt frame. It’s wonderfully colourful but busy which makes it difficult to read. I decide it’s easiest to ask for a full English Breakfast, which turns out to be £9.50.
A Plate Piled High
Once I’ve ordered it doesn’t take very long at all before the food arrives. There’s just enough time for me to take a couple of photos of the interior and post them to Twitter and Instagram. A large round plate is brought out and piled high and I know I’m going to struggle to finish it.
All the usual English Breakfast ingredients are there; toast, eggs, beans, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes and black pudding, plus the addition of potato wedges. The sausage is fat and delicious, flavoured with leeks and herbs but my fried egg is very crispy on the bottom and somehow snotty on top, indicating the chef has dropped the egg into fat far too hot. The two guys sitting beside me tell me there’s wasn’t cooked this way so I guess mine didn’t go to plan.
The next item I tuck into is the sourdough toast but I notice it’s been served without butter (as were my neighbours’ breakfasts). I get up and request this and the pot comes filled with a very chilled portion of butter making it difficult to spread without causing giant pot holes in my toast.
Leaving the butter to soften I move on to try the wedges. The skin has been left on, which I’m pleased to see but they are a little greasy and too soft for my liking. A crispy potato wedge is my preference but the guy I’m sat next to disagrees with me and tells me he liked them.
OJ ‘Sweet Like Tropicana’
Half-way through I realise I’m getting thirsty and I need a second refreshment. I pick up a fresh orange juice for £2 that’s squeezed on site and find, in the words of Dizzee Rascal, it’s ‘sweet like Tropicana’.
The tomato is also gorgeously sweet, much sweeter than I’m expecting from its size, the chef has obviously taken the time to source good quality ingredients. I leave the button mushrooms as it’s one of the few things I dislike and try the black pudding, which is moist and very generous in size.
Defeated By Breakfast
After accepting defeat with my huge breakfast, I stay a while and take advantage of some rare time where I’m not working through a list of things to do. Looking around and listening to the conversations in the room I get the feeling that this cafe has galvanised a real community in what was once a forgotten part of Brighton. Mitch, one of the owners, knows many of his customers by name and I recognise a couple of friends of friends myself too.
PRICE: £14.20 (1 breakfast, 1 orange juice and 1 coffee)
RATING: Must Go | Worth A Try | Give It A Miss
SCORES ON THE DOORS: 3/5 from the FSA for food hygiene
The owners have the right idea with Cafe Plenty but the cooking of the breakfast needs a little work to bring it up to scratch. In terms of ways to improve, if you’re a regular you’ll know to order at the counter but as a newcomer, it’s not clear, so some signage or staff direction would help customers and speed up the service. The vibe is great here and I’d definitely come back for coffee and one of their delicious looking cakes – so give it a try – if the owners take on board my feedback it could do very well.
3-4 Circus Parade, New England Road, Preston Circus, Brighton.
Have you tried Cafe Plenty? Was your experience good or bad, leave me a comment and let me and other readers know. And if you found this post useful give the little heart button below a click.
*Disclaimer: I was invited to Cafe Plenty to review on a complimentary basis, but as always my opinion isn’t swayed by freebies and you are getting my honest view on the whole experience.