Last Visited: May 2012
Spotted at mile 3 of the Brighton Marathon, this attractive Kemp Town establishment sits at the top of an area full of B&B’s, restaurants and cafes. A visit on a sunny Sunday morning presented a chance to see whether the breakfasts were as impressive as the building they were being served in.
On arrival, Cornel’s was already at least 1/3 full and easily busier than the other establishments we had passed on our way there. We were encouraged by a friendly waitress to sit at any table we would like and obliged by choosing a square wooden table in the centre of the room. The cafe is decorated in a light and rustic style, with displays of vintage knick-knacks on all possible surfaces and walls. The cafe also has a serving counter for coffee and cake takeaways, which was busy with patrons throughout our stay.
Presented with an extensive menu (breakfast, drinks and the evening options were all included on the clipboard) we were told that there would likely be a 20 minute wait for food. It was nice to know up front, a little honesty goes a long way and prevents ranting later. The first surprise of the day was that breakfast menu on offer was very different to what I expected from the chic and refined interior.
It's options reflected many of the smaller greasy spoon cafes which service the masses of tourists staying in and around Kemp Town. On offer were some very standard dishes; a traditional fry up in two sizes, various items “on toast”, breakfast sandwiches and omelette's (with chips). There was no sign of Messer’s Florentine, Benedict and Royale. I thought this was very strange and judging by the clientele, which seemed more Brightonian than touristy, they would have been snapped up by the plateful if they had been on the menu.
I settled on trying the smaller Full English (minus the egg- no substitute item offered) and despite the warning, our breakfasts arrived in just over 10 minutes with no sign of delay. What arrived however in my opinion did not reflect the atmosphere in where we were dining. The breakfast, reminiscent of my school reports, delivered well in some areas, but failed miserably in others. On the plus side; the toast was thick cut and of a very high standard, the mushrooms very well fried and the sausages of a good butchers shop quality. But with the highs, come the lows.
Simple mistakes plagued our visit. The sausages overall quality was diminished by being over cooked. The bacon rasher was not up to the quality of the sausage and was limp and watery to taste. The beans were the lowest point of the whole experience. Tepid in temperature and were not helped from sitting on a cold plate. Really I should have sent the whole thing back.
At £5.95 it is slightly more expensive than other breakfasts in Kemp town, but not by much. To give this perspective, for £2 more you could head over the Old Steine to Bills for their “gold-standard” offering.
Despite all this a positive mention must be given though to my Flat White coffee. Made using a blend from Brighton own Grounded, it was a perky experience. Though not quite as intensive and caffeine-addiction soothing as the Small Batch House blend, it made our short wait for our breakfasts enjoyable and was in contrast to what we received after. Smooth in finish and to me a perfect candidate for an afternoon coffee blend, I could be tempted to pick some up to try at home.
Overall the breakfast failed to meet the expectations which the aesthetics of the cafe and well thought out menu had promised. Mrs NoEggs was in agreement (for once) and also had a very good point about her experience. Served with the veggie breakfast was a caramelised pear. Although a unique breakfast accompaniment and a nice sweet touch to a savoury breakfast, it ended up on delivery being smothered in bean juice. Why make so something different and then ruin it at the final hurdle. Throughout our visit good ideas were ruined by poor execution.
Recent comments provided to us (about an experience with their burger menu) after our visit also sadly seem to back up what we have encountered. I think Cornel’s would be a good place for a large group to have a drink and a chat, especially after a night out. But the coffee at Ground or a sophisticated breakfast at Metrodeco will most likely prevent me from returning in the future.