Eastbourne is becoming home to an increasingly sophisticated dining scene with Journeys Wine Bar and Restaurant on Station Parade leading the charge. Nick Mosley asks the questions to co-owners and partners chef Amy Stone and sommelier-restaurant manager Marina Stone.
Tell us a bit about yourselves…
Amy: I fell into the industry by accident when I found a job in the kitchen of the three rosette Artichoke restaurant in Amersham when I was 16. I spent nearly five years there working my way up from kitchen porter to chef de partie, learning all the modern methods of cooking. They showed me the discipline and consistency you need to be able to work in a high standard restaurant. They were the first place to teach me how to make fresh bread on a daily basis.
Following that I worked in a number of London venues before joining for the opening of Hide and Fox in Hythe, Kent. I was the only chef in the kitchen with the chef-owner and working closely with him allowed me to develop new strengths and skills including how to work fast on pressure. I’m proud of being part of the small team that earned the restaurant three rosettes and a Michelin star in the space of 18 months.
Marina: I also ended up in hospitality by accident. I worked at my sister’s restaurant in my home country of France whilst waiting to start university but after one summer season I decided that I’d rather go to hospitality school. I spent four years learning all the basics of cooking, serving, business management, hotel management, service and wine – my true love.
Following my diploma, I took a year out to explore the vineyards of Australia before joining the Artichoke restaurant as a junior sommelier. It’s there that I met Amy – who is now not only my business partner but also my wife. After a few jobs in London, we both joined Allister Barsby and Alice Bussi at Hide and Fox where I worked as sommelier and assistant general manager. They were a big source of inspiration for us as they believed in their dreams, worked hard for it and achieved them.
How did you come to open a restaurant in Eastbourne?
Marina: It was by chance really! Amy and I took the decision to open our own restaurant but we didn’t have any particular location in mind. After looking at possible properties across the country, we couldn’t find anything we loved and were feeling a little defeated.
We’d been to view a business that was on the market in Brighton and on the way back to Kent we received a message to view a property in Eastbourne. We totally fell in love with the business and with Eastbourne so did some research to make sure our concept and dream would be viable there and – once the doubts were out of the way – we went for it and made an offer that was accepted by the former owners. That is how it all began and it was the best decision of our lives.
What is the concept of Journeys Wine Bar and Restaurant?
Marina: Journeys is a fusion of what Amy and I believe in and love about hospitality. We’re a small independent restaurant based on the concept of relaxed sharing and social dining using fresh produce all cooked whenever and wherever possible in-house.
We serve both small and large plates alongside sharing boards, platters and specials on busy days. We’re lucky enough to be next to the sea which is why seafood features a lot on our menus.
We want our guests to feel at home in our home with us spoiling them. I usually ask my guests their names as I want offer a genuinely personal service rather than just a table number. Equally everyone knows our names and Amy often serves dishes herself and spends time with her guests on the table as it’s very important for us that she collects their feedback herself.
There’s also perhaps a somewhat unusual way to enjoy a lunch or dinner at Journeys. Guests can book a week ahead for a bespoke five course surprise tasting menu with a choice of wine flight. We ask the guest in advance of their likes and dislikes, favourite ingredients and any dietary requirements and build a menu just for them. It’s an amazing experience for us to offer and guests always enjoy it and have a lot of fun.
How would you describe your menu?
Amy: I’d describe our menu as seasonal and modern with dishes inspired by different countries especially the products from the Mediterranean coast such as olive oil, padron peppers and fresh chillies. One of our signature dishes is the scallop dish – it’s been on our menu since we opened and is a firm favourite with our guests.
We often create some specials to test a new idea of a dish that we want to add. We change our menu seasonally and the next one will be June with a lighter menu, fresher following the treasures of summer. Local suppliers are important to us so our seafood, meat, cheese and fresh fruit and vegetables are all from Sussex and Kent businesses.
Is wine and food pairing important to you?
Marina: Wine and food pairing are my priority here at Journeys as I believe that the full dining experience can only be achieved that way. It’s how I take my guests on a unique journey.
99% of the wines that I source from my suppliers are organic, biodynamic or natural so we’re one of a handful of venues that offer premium organic and classic wines. I’ve selected every single wine featured on the wine list and most recently I’ve added the prestigious Gusbourne Wines from Tenterden in Kent which has quickly become a favourite by the glass.
Journeys Wine Bar and Restaurant, 6 Station Parade, Eastbourne BN21 1BE
01323 430 376 • www.journeyswinebar.com