For January’s lunch review, Sussex Business Times’ Jess Saunders enjoyed two courses at Eastbourne’s Bibendum bar and restaurant
Located in the heart of Eastbourne town, the Bibendum bar and restaurant posed the perfect lunch date for a crisp but sunny December day. Only a small distance away from the majority of Eastbourne’s most loved facilities – placed just a short walk away from the mainline railway centre, theatres, seafront, town hall and shopping centre facilities – this venue is the perfect destination for a quick lunchtime pint or a mid-commute dinner.
Right on the corner of Grange Road Bibendum boasts a sophisticated and overpowering exterior, with white walls and large, spacious windows. Outside the front of the building is a garden/terrace with numerous square tables and large sun (or rain) blocking umbrellas. This area was completely empty – not a person in sight – although this was to be expected on a freezing winter afternoon, especially with it being so close to Christmas. While Eastbourne’s Arndale Centre was packed to the brim with locals hungry for the perfect festive gifts, Bibendumbar was near-enough deserted and getting away from all of the chaos flooding the town centre for a quiet bite sounded perfect to me.
When walking in, I was overjoyed to feel a wave of heat hit me. The log fire was roaring, the radio blasting festive music and the familiar sound of the chefs clunking in the kitchen instantly provided me with the perfect atmosphere for a cosy winter lunch. The long bar is positioned right in front of the main entrance, showcasing their wide range of wines, liquors and beer, and I was welcomed in with huge smiles from the two front-of-house staff. Here, we were given the freedom to choose our preferred seat, although this was probably helped along by the fact that there was only a handful of people in the entire building. A member of the waiting staff was not far behind us with menus and the question of what we wanted to drink. As designated driver for the day, I opted for a pint of Pepsi with ice and fresh lemon, which was disappointing after seeing the huge selection of beverages stored in fridges behind the bar, while my guest opted for a refreshing glass of lemonade and lime.
Taking full advantage of the menu, both my guest and I opted for a starter as well as a main, and as a self-confessed savoury fan but sweet – not so much – I stayed away from the dessert menu, not that I would have even been able to stomach much more anyway. I opted for the soup of the day to start, which on this particular day, was spicy butternut squash soup, served bread and butter. My guest on the other hand, opted for the potato shells, stuffed with bacon, cheese and served with salad and a sour cream and chive dip. With my guest being indecisive, the attentive and polite waiting staff happily allowed us more time before returning to take our second course choices. My guest eventually opted for the Fish Gratin – salmon, cod and smoked haddock bound in a homemade white wine sauce with mushrooms, spinach and prawns, topped with mashed potato and cheese, while I opted for the Hunters Chicken – baked chicken breast and bacon in a BBQ sauce, finished under the grill with a cheese topping and served with chips, grilled tomatoes and breaded mushrooms.
Both starting courses – which looked incredible although maybe slightly too large – arrived at our table in a timely fashion and were served and presented to perfection. I didn’t know it was possible to make a bowl of soup look so attractive! The soup was piping hot right until the end and the bread – soft inside and with a slight crunch to the crusts – was the perfect accompaniment, as was the sour cream and chive dip to the potato shells. As for the taste, I assumed by the noises my guest was making that her starting course was delicious and the soup. The only element that prevented me from finishing the whole bowl was the fact that, after the delightful tastes I had just experienced, I didn’t want to miss out on finishing what I expected to be a delectable main course. The mains also delivered above and beyond my expectations. My Hunters Chicken dish was delightful; the chicken perfectly moist, the chips deliciously crunchy and the tomatoes juicy. My guest also thoroughly enjoyed the Fish Gratin, describing the many weird and wonderful tastes included along the way, although her one minor complaint was that it was slightly too ‘watery’. Both meals were, again, steaming hot right to the centre, which to me, is a sign of a properly cooked meal!
If you’re looking for a cosy and relaxing lunch this winter in the heart of the hustle and bustle of Eastbourne town, with top-quality service, outstanding menus and a wonderfully varied selection of beverages – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic – then Bibendum is definitely the place!
Bibendum Bar & Restaurant
1 Grange Road, Eastbourne