Lunch with Your Bunch: Marmalade, Kemptown, Brighton

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As I mentioned in my post about the Giles Leisure hot tub/swim spa (have you entered the comp yet?), my son broke a limb in November. We’ve spent a bit of time at the (fabulous) Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton, because it turns out bones heal slower in winter due to children absorbing less vitamin D from being indoors more. [Side note: the paediatric orthopaedic surgeon told us about a sharp rise in rickets cases in British children because, depressingly, they’re inside on iPads instead of outside playing. Someone shoot me now.]

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Anyway, because of this he’s had the cast removed three times, only to be x-rayed and have it reinstated twice to prevent the bone re-breaking. He’s whined about this precisely zero times, so each time I’ve taken him to the hospital, we’ve gone ahead of appointment for a treat of lunch or cake at Marmalade, a café near the hospital in Kemptown, Brighton.

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I’ve known since the first time we drove past it that Marmalade was a place I’d like. It has architectural character, some schweet vintage style details, and a serenity from the outside – once inside, there’s a bustle and a hum that’s very non-hectic. There are a limited number of tables, but the turnover is quick, so you don’t wait long. That said, you never feel rushed to move once you’re sitting down.

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Marmalade’s interior is tiled (which I always love) and through the arches from the main seating area – itself overlooked by a small mezzanine – are a few more tables, one of which is in a sort of anteroom. This is PERFECT if you’re with children – and the café knows it too: there’s a basket of nice toys in its corner.

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Any time we haven’t bagged this table, my kids haven’t been perceived as a nuisance sat elsewhere in the café. But the tables are close together, so if your kids are escape artists who react to busy cafés by itching to run about, this might be one to save for when they’re a bit older.

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We’ve been at 3pm for cake, when it was very quiet, and at 1pm for lunch, when it was rammed. It was on the latter visit that we sat in the café’s main space, nipping into the anteroom to choose a few puzzles and domino games. 

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Simple French antiques such as glass jugs and bread boards decorate the space, and behind the counter the wall is papered with magazine cuttings of mouthwateringly-styled photo shoots. On top of it are incredible loaf cakes such as carrot and walnut, courgette and lime, and guinness and chocolate. My two always choose fairy cakes topped with dolly mixtures.

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The lunch menu consists of a pie or some kind of ‘mainy’ item (on the day we went this was roasted salmon) with a selection of salads on the side. There are toasties and panini sandwiches, and an all-day breakfast menu, which we all went for.

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My youngest (he of adventurous tastes. Not) went for a plain ham sandwich which he ate in its entirety. My older boy and my mum had beautifully cooked scrambled eggs on toast (£3.95 and £4.95 respectively) and I treated myself to scrambled eggs and smoked salmon (£7.25). The boys shared an apple juice, Mum had a coffee and I had a pot of green tea – the total was around £25 and it felt like a treat, which suited the occasion.

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I would probably go so far as to make a special trip to Marmalade. I think it’s dead nice. Nearby there’s a restaurant we walked past called Busby and Wilds, which looks good for a date night, and after we’d finished with the cast removal, we wandered seaward, only to find the amazing Peter Pan’s Playground (below), which – would you believe – we’ve never been to. This is the playground holy grail: there are toilets and an open-all-year café called Grace’s Place.

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What a great stretch of beach there is to be found at Kemptown, with this, the Volk’s Electric Railway and the crazy golf! Perfect for a perfect post-prandial sun-splashed play in the chilly wind… A post on it will come soon.

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THE ESSENTIALS

Train: 16 minutes from Lewes; several services an hour 
Drive: 19 minutes
Address: 237 Eastern Road, Kemptown, Brighton, BN2 5JJ
Tel no.: 01273 606 138
Website: cafemarmalade.co.uk
Open: Mon-Sat, 8am-6pm; Sun 9am-5pm

Disclosure: The owners and staff at Marmalade didn’t know I was reviewing it when we were there either time – and I didn’t tell them afterwards. No compensation, financial or otherwise, was offered or accepted for the writing of this post. 

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I’m Kate, a copywriter, brand consultant and editor who creates messages that are clear and clean. I create these for brands and agencies both big and boutique, in areas including design, homes and interiors, travel, fashion, lifestyle, beauty, food, and kids and families. I believe clear, clean messages bolster brands and businesses. They evoke emotion and ignite inspiration, and when written well, they’re easier to absorb – and respond to. I live in Copenhagen and am half-English, half-Danish. I write as comfortably in American English as in British, and behind the scenes I'm also studying Danish. Need help getting your message out? Contact me.

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