The Mock Turtle
On a quiet by-street, tucked well away and nigh-on impossible to
find in Brighton's boy-about-town gay quarter squats the Mock
Turtle. From the array of cakes in the window and the smell which
guides you in to land you know that the hunt has not been in vain.
The Mock Turtle gets it about as right as a tea shop can without
falling into the numerous pitfalls which plague tea-time Brittain.
There are no spotty 17 year olds in Victorian Maid getup, no "get
out the doylies". It's a husband and wife team here, where both
husband and wife are very much in presence to call you "dearie" or
recommend the doughnuts. There's lots to love here but no tea shop
can really shine without the loving dedication of its patrons and for
this alone the Turtle must get credit. "The Sarsaparilla?", "I don't
know love - not going in for much fizzy myself, but those who have it
say it isn't bad." Sarsaparilla it is then (i don't recommend it) and
she's a dab hand in the kitchen too.
Cakes you say? Ah yes the cakes. I'd actually avoid the scones in
this instance, not because they're quite bunish and the cream is
second rate, but because Augustus Gloop never dreampt of so many
gorgeous cakes in one place. There are fairy cakes and Florentines
and coffee cake and carrot cake and short bread and sweet bread
and two hundred other mouthpopping, eyewatering specimens upon
which to dither and slaver. If - like us - you're belly expands just in
anticipation as you cross the threshold, you'd best hold back. Our
advice is don't overdo it. Take your time because we must confess
to feeling so shameful with ourselves when we left 45 minutes later
that it took a two hour romp on the pebbles and a very stern April
paddle to remit the guilt. It's good, for sure - very good indeed,
infact - but whilst the bill you can stomach the food you may not.
The fare is shamelessly sickly. There's two types of sugar on the
table and is the old butter/cream combo really necessary?
It's reputed to get very busy in season and it's open till six because
only the pier and pavilion get more visitors but visit it you must. It's
old-worldly without being affected; assorted without being
mismatched, cosy without being cramped; it can feel smug that it
has seemingly effortlessly brought off that which so many other
establishments aspire towards, imitate and ultimately don't
The Mock Turtle,
4 Pool Valley (off East Street),
9 am - 6:30 pm Tuesday - Sunday