La Gelatiera, Artisan Ice Cream Parlour – what’s not to like?

This is a first for No Expert – a post on an Ice Cream Parlour!

I have actually been to lots of Ice Cream Parlours all over the world, including some memorable ones in Italy, Spain, North and South America, Germany, France, Sweden and Denmark – my favorite Ice Cream surprisingly was Goats Milk Ice Cream sold by a street vendor in Kiev of all places, but that’s another story. So why visit La Gelatiera? which is tucked away in a side street close to Covent Garden. Main reason, it’s serious Ice Cream – seriously good. It’s also kind of nice to know that their Ice Cream is rich in vitamins and protein but low in fat (on average 6% – 8% for gelato and 0% for sorbet).

I tried two flavours today:-

Basil and Chilli Gelato – I first had Basil Ice Cream at the rather good Waterside Restaurant in Eastbourne, so the bench mark for me on this was set pretty high. La Gelatiera breached it – WOW – that little kick of chilli is amazing.

Banana Sorbet – so creamy, so much banana flavour, more conventional but no less of a winner than the Basil and Chilli.

I will most definitely be back to try some more flavours.

The Parlour has a modern trendy feel to it, it is quite small and has a glass floor in one corner that enables you to peak into the “laboratory” where the Ice Cream is made. There is seating for about 8 – 10 people inside and a few seats outside. It also specializes in Coffee from Artisan Roasters and has a nice looking selection of Cakes and Pastries.  You can even have Ice Cream with your Cake, so what’s not to like?

Made a return visit on a Saturday evening to try some more flavours.

Mint and Chocolate Gelato – Very refreshing, could really taste the fresh mint, plus lots of shards of dark chocolate.

Popcorn, Caramel and Chilli Gelato – Another winner, creamy with soft caramelized popcorn and a touch of chilli

Hazelnut Gelato – a more conventional flavour, but still very nice.

I would also recommend the Matcha Tea Gelato – very refreshing.

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The Sundial in Herstmonceux

I had a couple of preconceptions that were quickly dispelled on my visit to The Sundial.

1. That French Restaurants in the country that advertise themselves as wedding venues tend to be a bit mundane.

2. That we would be hard pushed to find an East Sussex restaurant that was better than The Waterside.

On entering the rather empty car park on a quiet Saturday lunch time in the unassuming village of Herstmonceux. I was pleasantly surprised by the attractive, modern and well designed layout of The Sundial. It has a small lounge bar area in the middle, a small private dining room to the left and the main restaurant to the right. There is a also a small terrace and a large garden area.

We were greeted by the proprietors Chef Vincent and his wife Mary who manages front of house, and made comfortable in the lounge area where we were served some tasty canapes while we made our selections. First step was choosing which menu. They have a fine dining menu which at £25 for 3 courses seemed really good value.  The a la carte is £40 for 3 courses and there is a 5 course tasting menu at £55. We opted for the a la carte.

First we had a nice creamy crayfish mousse amuse bouche. Then for starters we both had the perfectly cooked Panfried King Scallops, with Wild Mushrooms, Garlic and Parsley. A lovely looking dish visually enhanced by the inclusion of the blue Vitelotte Potatoes. Next we had a refreshing champagne and lemon granita palette cleanser.

For main course I had the Wild Seabass Fillet, Seabass and Lobster Sausage with Tarragon and Pistachio served with beautifully smooth mash and my companion had the fairly substantial Breast of Duck with Potato Pancakes and seasonal Vegetables

This was followed by a pre dessert that was effectively a mini raspberry choc ice, a bit like a frozen raspberry ruffle on a stick.  Then for dessert I had Red Berry Compote and Chocolate Mousse, Hazelnut Macaroon and Nougat Mousse with Carrot and Ginger Sorbet. The Hazelnut Macaroon was really moreish, working so well with the unusual Carrot and Ginger Sorbet.   However the star of the show,  at least visually, was the Chocolate Dégustation that included chocolate ice cream, chocolate mousse and chocolate parfait.  This dish was very much presented to impress.

The wine list is extensive, although there are not too many by the glass unfortunately – my only complaint.

We finished off this rather splendid meal with coffee and a fairly substantial selection of petit fours in the lounge.

Attention to detail and stylish presentation are obviously important at The Sundial, they used a lovely selection of tableware ranging from the cute copper pot butter dish to the stunning customised glass dessert plates, this was backed up by solid cooking and good ingredients.

The Sundial restaurant had a Michelin star for three years until 1982 and I sincerely hope it’s back on the Michelin Inspectors radar, as this is a serious contender for a star in my opinion.

Marks out of 10

Food 7.4

Service 7.4

Ambience 7.2

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LOCATION INFORMATION

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The Waterside Seafood Restaurant – The third kind

Seafood restaurants in my view fall into three categories:-

  1. The bad ones of which there are way too many.
  2. The good but conventional ones like Chapmans in Canterbury, which are not quite so plentiful.
  3. The rare ones that have that special something that sets them apart.

I would put Eddie Gilberts in Ramsgate and The Sportsman in Whitstable into the third category for example along with The Waterside Restaurant in Eastbourne which on my third visit in an eight month period just did not disappoint.

The Waterside Restaurant is situated in a boutique hotel of the kind that goes a long way to revitalizing British Seaside resorts, every good resort should have one or better still half a dozen such places.

Our first visit to The Waterside was in the heart of winter and I guess the fact it was thriving then should have been the first clue to how special this place was. Something the AA recognized earlier this year by awarding it a second Rosette.

When we arrived it was nice to be welcomed back by the waitress who remembered us from our earlier visits. We had a good start – ordering a glass of Moet at a fraction of the price we would have paid in London.

The menu changes frequently enough to make it interesting. I started with the King Scallops Sweet Plate – The scallops are served with mustard brulee and cashew nut baklava, this is a dish I have had before and one I am pleased they keep on the menu.  My companion ordered the crab and crayfish salad a new addition to the menu which was delicious.  It took a while to choose my main course as I was torn between several of the dishes. l finally settled on the Sea Bream served very simply with potato and spinach salad – perfect.  My companion had the Fillet of Plaice served with a divine crayfish risotto and scallops. The only disappointment of the evening was that they did not have the stunning Basil Ice cream we had on our last visit on their list of home made ices, but I still enjoyed the Toffee, Apple & Cinnamon and Banana & Mango ice creams that were on offer along with a nice glass of Moscatel.

We retired to the bar for cocktails.  Where they serve a mixture of classic cocktails and boutique cocktails. I had an Aqua,  one of the boutique cocktails containing Lycee and Melon liqueur, Vodka, Gin, Cointreau, Lime Juice and lemonade – very refreshing and a nice way to end a lovely evening.

This may have been my third visit to The Waterside but it certainly will not be my last.  I don’t need the sunshine to draw me to Eastbourne when the town boasts a restaurant of this calibre, and it’s only an hour and a half away from London by train 😉

Marks out of 10

Food 7.1

Service 7

Ambience 7

The Waterside Restaurant on Urbanspoon

LOCATION INFORMATION

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Where to Eat and Drink – Sussex

EASTBOURNE 

SOVEREIGN HARBOUR

If you fancy a trip to the Seaside then here is a list of the some of the more interesting places I have found on or near the Sussex coast.

EAST SUSSEX

The Waterside Restaurant (Eastbourne) –  Superior restaurant in a stylish boutique hotel. For something a little bit different I would recommend having dinner here.

Morgans (Eastbourne) – Good value set lunch.

Thai Marina (Sovereign Harbour) – Consistently high quality Thai food in pleasant surroundings.

The Sundial in Herstmonceux – Ideal for a special treat.

WEST SUSSEX

47 Mussel Row (Littlehampton) – Worth a detour for the excellent Sea food.

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The Waterside – no not the famous one!

Dinner at The Waterside, the one in Eastbourne on the seafront that is, rather than the way more famous one in Bray on the riverside.

This Waterside is actually a very attractive boutique hotel close to the Pier. There is no formal reception area as the focus on entering is the stylish bar and restaurant.  We had booked our table for 7:00 mainly so we could get back to London at a reasonable time, and were shown to our table in the conservatory area – probably ideal in the summer but rather cold in atmosphere and temperature in the winter, despite the heating.  So with a bit of persuasion we got them to move us into the main restaurant area, which although fully booked could handle the change if we were able to vacate our table by 8:30.

The Waterside - Mustard Bread

I do like it when restaurants make an effort with the bread. The Waterside presented us with two different olive oils, some butter and a single piece of bread.  Does not sound that great does it, but when that single slice is a delicious piece of mustard bread, I have no complaints at all. Give me quality over quantity anytime.

I ordered the scallop dish for starters, and my companion went for the scotch egg with coronation style chicken and pickled onions, which on arrival looked very nice. However it was totally eclipsed by my scallop dish – Apsleys take note here – not 5 wafer thin slivers of scallop but 5 large juicy beautifully cooked scallops, accompanied by a mustard crème brulée and cashew nut baklava – yes there was quantity here, but it delivered on the quality too along with some imagination. For main course we ordered Plaice and Game Pudding.   There was nothing conventional about the Plaice, being served as it was with Dukkah and cauliflower – I really enjoyed this dish.  The delicate use of spices worked well, you could really taste the fish and the cauliflower. The potato cake it was served on was also good, really fluffy and light.  My companion enjoyed her Game Pudding too,  but did feel it was missing something and a little short of gravy. For dessert I had the carrot cake with caramelized banana and nuts and my companion had the more spectacular looking trio of crème brulée ABC (Amaretto – very nice, Bailey’s – subtle, Cognac – too subtle).

The Waterside has one AA Rosette, but in my view actually met the criteria for 2 Rosettes to the letter.

“Innovation, greater technical skill and more consistency and judgement in combining and balancing ingredients are all needed at this level.”

The timing on food delivery and service was quick, so there was no problem vacating the table for the next sitting.  It was a shame we had to leave,  as it would have been nice to relax in the bar and try out some of their reasonably priced cocktails (well reasonable by London prices at about £6 each). Eastbourne also looked lovely at night, beautifully lit and very grand.

Marks out of 10 for The Waterside

Food 6.8

Service 5.1

Ambience 5.5

UPDATE : April 2011 – Made a return visit to The Waterside to try more of the menu. There were a couple of dishes from the previous visit still on the menu, but enough had changed to make the return worthwhile. I had a lovely Mackerel dish to start, beautifully flavoured with lime juice. Then a Skate and gnocchi dish for main course (not the best cooked Skate, it was a bit stringy, but the gnocchi was very good), my companion had the Plaice, which was perfectly cooked.

We just had to try the Basil Ice Cream for dessert – a triumph. The Waterside is such a good find. I am sure I will be back to try a few more of the chefs innovations.

UPDATE : May 2011 – Just heard that The Waterside has won a  2nd AA Rosette.  I did see that one coming.  Well done to Lori Parsons and the restaurant team.

The Waterside Restaurant on Urbanspoon

LOCATION INFORMATION – The Waterside

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Morgans

Another Restaurant in Eastbourne worth mentioning is Morgans, we did a walk in here for their set lunch (for the price of a cocktail in The Waterside). The food was well cooked and seriously good value – check out the picture of the pâté starter which came with hot fresh bread drizzled with olive oil, that alone was worth the money.

So it was a very productive day, with two good restaurant finds.

Marks out of 10 for Morgans

Food 5.5

Service 4.5

Ambience 4

Morgans on Urbanspoon

LOCATION INFORMATION – Morgans

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