Smiths, St Leonards-on-Sea
21 Grand Parade
by Nelson Griddle
To St Leonards for the weekend, where my sister has recently bought a one-bedroom flat there for a sum of money that would only get you a shoebox in London, and a pretty poky shoebox at that.
Late autumn sunlight shimmers on the sea, the shingle is endlessly entertaining to my one-year-old son, and not very much seems to happen on the streets lined with faded, slightly wedding-cakey Victorian stucco houses.
In total, it feels a bit like Brighton in the early Nineties, kept from more rapid development by the slow train – and even slower A21 – to London.
But we’re not here for the travel details, I hear you cry. What are the breakfasts like?
We go to Smiths on the sea front (their strapline is “Real Food”) to find out, and taste a truly excellent full English. My New Year’s resolution a couple of years ago was to eat more quality pork products – something which, like most of my NYRs, I have failed to achieve. However, this sojourn to sunny St L’s helps me to make up for lost time.
The Cumberland sausages are superb. Ditto the bacon and black pudding. The baby tomatoes, moreover, are bursting with flavour, and the poached eggs (territory on which your average short-order cook often slips up) are top notch.
Which only leaves the service. They are friendly enough, these St Leonards folk, but I have to articulate a gripe when it comes to our waiter’s shirt. On this particular Sunday morning he was sporting a pale blue Ralph Lauren number. Difficult enough to take exception to, you might think, were it not for the fact that the back of this garment was soaking – literally soaking - in sweat. I’ve no doubt waitering is hot work, but at what point does waiterly perspiration put your punters off their grub?
This is a question for Smiths to ponder. Along with the issue of what on earth “real food” means. The opposite of ontologically non-existent food, perhaps? Or existentially inauthentic food? I suspect the issue of sweaty shirts will prove less philosophically abstruse.