Review – Marwood
True independence is a rare occurrence in Brighton and Hove. Peel back the layers and often you will find cleverly constructed marketing companies, ownership by larger, more corporate brands and an underwhelming sensation that your decaf soya latte isn’t really sticking it to the man, merely filling their pockets even more. This is why Marwood Cafe is so wildly refreshing.
Opening its doors in November 2010, Marwood is tucked away on the corner of Ship Street, partially on the site of the old Post Office. Manager and all round lovely bloke, Richard Grills took over the premises on a whim after returning from a stint running pop up bars in Melbourne, Australia.
Marwood is a tricky establishment to categorise. Split over two large floors and a fantastically bright garden, the ‘cafe’ isn’t really a cafe and it isn’t really a coffee shop either, nor a restaurant. What Richard has created is a community space that serves great food, well priced alcohol and superb coffee. Make use of Marwood as you will. Personally, I adore whiling away an afternoon sipping tea and eating slices of their homemade cake.
“People either love it or hate it” Richard says over a cup of coffee. The bohemian, laid back, community ethos may not be to everyone’s taste. “This is silver service in jeans” he quips, laughing. The space at Marwood is always filled to the brim, especially over lunchtime and it’s easy to see why once I’d tasted the Devil’s Toast – spicy chorizo on sourdough, topped with tomato, goats cheese, chilli and garlic (£5.95).
This caliber of food isn’t what you’d expect to eat whilst sitting in an old rocking chair and dining off a pre-loved table. Well presented, the spicy chorizo was thickly sliced and lay glowing a reddish hue across a thick piece of lightly toasted bread. Not overpowering, the sausage went beautifully with the rotund slice of warm goats cheese.
Topped off with a grilled tomato, this (questionable) fruit provided a wetness to the plate and paired well with the dryer ingredients. Finished off with a dazzling dressing containing a mild balsamic, fine shallot and garlic, as well as a side salad, the Devil’s Toast was more like the work of God, as opposed to Beelzebub.
Other dishes include hangover breakfasts (complete with Bloody Mary), daily specials, nachos and soup of the day. All very reasonably priced and of a truly great level of cooking.
With weekly events including open mic, quizzes, bingo, artists residences and soon to be supper clubs, Rich and the Marwood team have it nailed with their off the wall approach and generous helpings of great food, cake and coffee.
I understand the importance of why we have corporate chains and how precious they can be to the economy (hell, my part time bread and butter is working for one of the biggest brands in the world) but the world we live in needs the independents too. Long live Marwood and the thriving community space which is provides to the city of Brighton and Hove.
Originally printed in the Brighton and Hove Independent Newspaper 21/03/14
Words and photographs by Claire Beveridge