Red Roaster, located at the bottom of St. James Street – the original café and well known meeting house of Brighton and Kemptown locals for many years has had a major reinvention and we love the new and improved version. The new space is a complete renovation with every fixture and fitting replaced from floor to ceiling, the only obvious original item are the roof lanterns which have had a refresh. Long gone are the autumnal beige, browns and the red coloured roasting machine that was synonymous with the old coffee shop.
If there were ever a better example of the ensuing gentrification to Brighton and Hove it is truly evident here. St. James Street is locally perceived as the one of the shopping areas at the base of Kemptown that bridges between the historic centre of Brighton and the housing estates to the east. The street is known for hosting the annual local LGBT pride weekend and is infamous for the variety of ‘characters’ that on any given day can be seen up and down the length of this busy street.
Michelin Starred Chef, Matt Gillan has teamed up with Restauranteur, Mike Palmer and re-opened a brand new coffee house that becomes a restaurant in the evenings. The space is a local coffee house (Red Roaster) between 7am & 4.30pm, then closes for a short period to re-open again at 6:30pm as Pike and Pine to diners. The restaurant menu focusses on seasonally changing dishes from locally sourced ingredients.
The interior is now light and airy thanks to the predominantly white painted walls and ceiling with an expanse of hanging green foliage from the suspended planters and lighting rig. A new poured concrete floor throughout is met by a very generous white and grey veined Arabescato marble bar and kitchen counter, which faces the open kitchen and where customers can drink and or dine at.
Brushed brass and marble are a classic combination that has seen a revival in recent years, and here it has been adopted to make bold statements in the modern interior setting. The meet and greet desk located after the initial entrance lobby is a hotspot for showcasing both materials. Here, they have been shaped and formed into a curved standalone pod with designated pastry display during the day service.
The walls on the left, as you enter, have been covered with white square tiles and a very dark grey grouting to ceiling level. This tiled wall has been divided by a full height recessed wine display unit in black with brass doors and an artistic tiled mural and stylish brass coloured water station near the meet and greet pod, which is a sculptural art piece on its own.
The length of the café / restaurant benefits from the addition of a long fixed seat in soft grey upholstery that runs almost full length of the interior, right up to the exposed Corten steel staircase at the rear which is a statement piece itself. Behind the fixed seats are punched metal screens with timber edging and above these are alternating large white painted arched frames with mirrors that give an extra dimension, and Bocci glass wall lights.
Loose chairs in the main dining area are painted wood and with comfortable upholstered pads in soft grey to match the fixed seating opposite, and contrasting upholstered black high stools at the bar height counter. Behind the bi-folding shopfront doors is a more casual atmosphere with a large imitation tree in the centre of a cluster of high benchtops and white upholstered seats with white metal legs which are also suitable for exterior use.
The unisex washrooms on the first floor are accessed by the Corten steel staircase and on arrival it is easy to see the continuation of the fixtures and finishes through from the main dining area.
The wheelchair accessible toilet on the ground floor has been disguised by cladding the exterior walls and door with large mirrors. This treatment works well in hiding it from the diners, the fact that this accessible washroom is in close proximity to the open kitchen could unknowingly put off some people.
Memories of the old coffee shop are now overshadowed by the nothing short of an amazing transformation, and which local residents and nearby businesses can’t get enough of. You can literally hear the praises from people outside on the street who have just been in or want to see the new indulgent and lavishly styled interior close-up.
Lucky for us at the Blenheim Design office, we are only a short walking distance from the Red Roaster and we can see this becoming one of our favourite new cafés to frequent for a caffeine fix or lunchtime meal.