Alfresco cafe-bar on Brighton Seafront
Town seemed so busy; swarms of international students, hordes of tourists, packs of shoppers all out thronging through Brighton’s narrow old town streets. I couldn’t seem to find a cafe that suited me, spoilt for choice in some way but I just cannot stand the crowds and couldn’t work out why everywhere was so busy. It wasn’t yet the school holidays or the weekend. After a chilled out meditation over lunch I was expecting to be relaxed and laid-back but it didn’t take me long to work out that town just wasn’t what I wanted. The great thing about being a cyclist is it just takes a few minutes and I’m on my way again. The seafront beckoned and I was out of the crowded streets before you could say ‘freedom’. Then I understood why it was so crowded – the seafront was deserted! The day was overcast for sure but still fairly warm and pleasant but the masses had decided and it was just not sunny and warm enough for them. I breathed in the fresh sea air and zoomed breezily along the seafront cycle path glad to leave the town centre behind.
Al Fresco cafe-bar is on the ground floor of Alfresco Italian restaurant, housed in the former milk maid pavilion and sandwiched between the children’s play area and the land side of the old West Pier. I took my mug of tea to a window-side table and settled in for some reading and writing. The cafe is spacious, light and with wonderful 180 degree sea views from their full length windows. The tables are light ash with white bucket shape chairs which are more comfortable than they look . There is also some great purple banquette seating to the rear. As Al Fresco is a cafe-bar; there are plenty of cocktails to choose from as well as a condensed food menu from the main restaurant upstairs.
“I took my mug of tea to a window-side table and settled in for some reading and writing. The cafe is spacious, light and with wonderful 180 degree sea views from their full length windows”
The interior is cool and stylish but its the outside that grabs your attention. The hulking wreck of the West Pier sits marooned just offshore, a skeletal remnant of its former glory. Today the sea is a milky green and fairly calm with a mist hanging in the air hiding the top of the fairground rides at Palace Pier to the east. Empty bold striped deckchairs sit forlornly on the empty pebble beach. Five minutes later I looked up again and the mist was clearing, the sun was breaking through and the sea was more blue in colour.
One day last year I had been holed up at home with the dreadful weather and storms raging overhead. Thinking the weather had abated I ventured out but only got as far as Alfresco’s until the heavens opened again. I dashed indoors to shelter from the rain and sat mesmerised by the display of forked lightening before the electric storm blew itself out to sea.
So basically I’ve worked out that I tend to go in the opposite direction to the masses. You’ll find me in the shops and quirky streets of Brighton when the crowds are down on the beach leaving the town relatively quiet. Or I’ll be down on the seafront enjoying the calm of the empty promenade on an unseasonal overcast day.