I’d been cooking for a few years in Hastings and was looking to try something different. I wanted to buy a place and run it my way, an informal restaurant where you could eat delicious food and drink nice wine and not worry about anything else.
I mentioned this to my family, I told them it would be important to live above the restaurant so that our work and home life blurred into one, we would dream of recipes and cook them the next day, feel the hum of contented eaters ring through the floorboards and vibrate around the house…. they didn’t like the idea.
We saw a place and tried to buy it but six months later that fell through. The following day I needed cheering up, so we drove to Cranbrook, we knew a place that served nice coffee. We saw there was a shop for sale in an estate agent window, it was across the road from where we sat with our coffees.
Cloudberry illustration
It was double fronted with a nice balcony with iron railings. A lovely space to enjoy dinner.
Downstairs would make a good kitchen, I imagined a pot of bubbling stock, salted duck legs ready for confit and mounds and mounds of fresh meat, fish, herbs and vegetables waiting to be turned into starters and mains.
We’d call it The Cloudberry,
because it’s a tough little berry that thrives in difficult conditions and I thought the name sounded like a hotel I couldn’t afford to stay in, with a bar serving cocktails and a man playing jazz on the piano.
—Toby Welfare