I'd been eyeing up the Pavilion Tea Company fit-out for the last week, watching the colourful tea caddies being stacked high behind the counter and beautifully patterned glass vinyl going up to the furrowed brow of the installation chap (look, everyone has their turn-ons).
This is another of the Brighton Royal Pavilion and Museum cafes, restaurants and bars that Peyton and Byrne have refreshed. The chain has been a welcome transformation for them as before they were thoroughly average at best. And whilst a London brand name on our turf is usually met with a wrinkled nose, in this instance I think they partner very well and clearly something they are very good at. (Peyton and Byrne also have the Royal Academy of Arts, National Gallery, The British Library, ICA and Kew Gardens amongst their eateries.)
The only savoury dishes on offer, which hopefully will increase as they bed in a little, was a soup and a small, but varied selection of salads. My lunch was the warming tomato and lentil soup, mildly spiced with curry leaves. It was served with a dainty dolls house sized loaf of bread, which I could have done with three of being the carb addict I am. The lady next to me was eating the salads with pleasing murmurs. From memory the choices were things like a quinoa with crisp butternut squash, mini quiche and baked aubergine.
The tea menu is as long as your arm (literally) and if that is something you are into will be worth the visit in itself as there are over 40 varieties from the everyday to the exotic. I believe all of them are their own blends and you can also buy the loose leaf teas by weight to take-away. There is no song and dance about it, but it is served nicely in a small Chinese metal teapot and staff are knowledgeable to advise on a tea variety. If coffee is your drug, then they serve their own house blend of coffee as well.
Aside from the tea and cake, the other USP are the interiors and this latest addition, right next to the Pavilion gift shop, is probably the nicest of them all. Huge lanterns and fretwork which are a nod to the Pavilion interior contrast with the dark walls and the heavy apothecary unit counter. The dark colours also allow the colourful tea caddies and jewel coloured sweet treats to temptingly ping out at you. It's been really well designed by local firm DesignLSM.
My only niggle, and something quite crucial, is the seating which is a difficult one to resolve as the narrow space and two entrances don't leave much space for it. Quite a few of the customers are of the older generation and when the few tables are taken up, the bar stools are not exactly appropriate for some of them. Whilst I'm still in my prime *cough*, I'm an absolute short arse, and I found the blue velor soft window seating was far too low for the tables. It was all really awkward but I understand that new seating is due for delivery any day soon which hopefully will solve the issue.
None the less, get there early to secure one of the few tables and it certainly is one of the nicest spots for a (proper) cuppa right in the centre of the city.
The Pavilion Tea Co.