REVIEW: Med 22Black, Brighton

I return to one of my Brighton Favourites, Med., who have undergone a bit of a reinvention and relaunched as Med 22Black.

Along with a lick of darker paint and a moodier vibe, the small plate menu has been updated to include more of the flavours and style from their well received Espina pop up at The Golden Pineapple bar in Ship Street and a stronger focus on the drinks menu.

You'll still find the sunny, Mediterranean vibes everyone has come to love, but with more prominent Asian influences and more edgy pairings, with some junk food inspo thrown in for good measure. Sounds like a fusion disaster, but somehow it works, and it works very well.

Occasionally the experimentation and drive for innovation is pushed a bit too far or misplaced; the impressive bone marrow Yorkshire pudding, packed full of succulent beef and sat on a green pond of East End Liqour, utterly delicious in itself had no place on the menu here (sorry chef Will).

The Marmite and furikake dressing on the hispi cabbage was a wallop of intense saltiness that was a touch too much. The delicate beauty of artichokes were sadly engulfed in the flavours of refried bean and tomato salsa. But we let them off, because without pushing the boundaries, you can't have the creative cooking that results in dishes like tuna crudo, uplifted with kumquat and avocado. Or silky, umami rich hoi sin glazed aubergine nor the tomato and blood orange salad with olive oil ponzu. And dammit, the cheeseburger tartare, something that goes against everything I thought I believed in in food, is a plate licking must order with it's tangy Maccy D sauce nailed.

But respect to classic flavours are still honoured here. I challenge you to find a better taramasalata in town - velvety and decadent. Perfect for the prawn crackers served with it and better with their delicious airy bread. I loved seeing a classic gnoccho fritto from the Emilia Romagna region, exactly how you'd find them there, pillow light and nestled simply next to cured meat. And fat juicy prawns were rightly left in the safe hands of Basque cooking and a piquant pil pil sauce.

Don't miss the drinks, impossible to choose from the cocktail list from the seasonal serves to the house classics. My sherry Monocle aperitif was the perfect way to kick off dinner. Leave the car at home and dive into the wine list too, carefully selected but extensive with some interesting natural and low intervention wines. We chose an orange wine, Casa Balaguer Tragolargo Blanco, crisp and floral with a pleasant fizzy farmy funk expected from the naturals.

Polishing off the feast, a giggly rhubarb trifle topped with smile making sprinkles. If you can't have fun with dessert, where can you?

As always, they have created food I want to eat, and even food I didn't know I wanted to eat. The menu is almost irrelevant because to me it doesn't matter, I'd happily try everything. Come with a group, sample it all.

Med. I loved you, Med 22Black, I love you more.


I dined as a guest of Med 22Black. Words and thoughts, as always, my own. 

REVIEW: Le Nantais, Hove

Six years ago I had the best bisque I've ever had. One of those food memories that stick so vividly, you can remember the exact taste. This wasn't a discovery in some romantic little bistro, down a softly lit cobbled backstreet in Paris, it was just off Palmeira Square in Hove. Yep. Hove.

Le Nantais is a classic French bistro where you’ll find the likes of coq au vin, onion soup, rillette, bourguignon, escargots, moules…all the things I have a lot of time for. I personally think you can’t beat classic cooking, it’s at the heart of so many great dishes. I also particularly like restaurants owned by chefs, they are typically run on passion which I feel is what Pascal Benamari has achieved here.

On the wall inside there’s a quote with “It's somehow impossible not to feel at home here” and I’d have to agree. This a a cozy little neighbourhood restaurant. Looking around at the more well seasoned clientele that wave to each other from their tables is telling of loyalty, there’s no-one standing on their chairs to get a flat lay here for the ‘gram. It’s refreshing, genuine and authentic. 

However, amongst the tradition, there are some surprising wild cats on the menu - peri peri chicken, tempura and I see paella sometimes makes an appearance here. I know I’m a raging purist, personally I’m not sure it’s needed but it's been well recieved by clientele so who am I to argue with a restaurant that listens to its customers.

Being Devil’s advocate, I tried a few of the dishes for starters. The scallop croquettes, not breaded or with any particular finesse arrived as three fat, plump scallops, battered and fried but enjoyable, and the warming carrot cardamom puree a very good partner for them. 

Sadly, the delicate nature of Laguosine was a little lost within the tempura, which was coated thickly with sesame and the red pepper caramel needed more heat to balance the marmalade-like sweetness of the sauce. I would certainly have been at home with duck rillete or the pate de campagne if I wasn't being self-challenging. 

Coming back to the comfort of tradition and the bisque, this was exactly as I remember it, plate licking good. Rich, creamy, saline, full of the goodness of the sea, I’m not sure anyone will trump it. Sublime with tiny cubed vegetables and a piece of tender monkfish. If ever you see this on the specials or the menu here, in any iteration, just go. In fact, put whatever you're doing down and run - this bisque is one of the best things I’ve eaten in Brighton. 

The rump of lamb a la Nicoise was a perfect example of robust, bistro cooking. Perfectly rested, flavoursome meat. Served with a rich, herbed sausage, crisp roast vegetables. Simply done, but that's all that good ingredients command. All you need to add is a full bodied red wine and you're set. 

An excellent crème brûlée followed, you could eat a thousand of them and cracking that brittle tortoiseshell top will never get old. That scene in Emily in Paris (don’t watch it, it’s absolute trash) where Pierre is on the bed cracking a tray of brûlée with a spoon one after the other to ease his depression. I get that. It’s a soothing joy every time.

The fine apple tart was also good. Here the caramel loves apple and was a light rendition, ideal after a full meal.

Classic, robust, very French, very fabulous. Food should have the power to transport you to its origin, to memories of holidays, to your childhood if that's where it was... and this does. As we have been grounded to an extent in 2020, we need cooking like this more than ever.

I dined here on the last day before lockdown 2.0 forced closure of our restaurants again, it certainly felt like an eve of something, and I made sure to savour every moment. Doors open again on the 2nd of December and will start introducing French festive menus as well as the popular French steet food served outside; mussels, crepes and croques, to fuel your Christmas shopping. 

41 Church Road
Hove BN3 2BE

I dined as a guest of Le Nantais. Words and thoughts, as always, my own. 

REVIEW: Wild Flour pizzeria, Ovingdean, Brighton

Totally off the radar is a pizzeria tucked away in Ovingdean. A place I've walked and run past many times, the only nod to it a small wooden hanging sign. I'd assumed this was just another food truck in someone's garden or a pop up of sorts. But no, turn the corner and you'll find a beautiful little restaurant, which actually sits in the location of the former Old Vienna Cafe. It's surrounded by dahlias, fairy lights and trees and beyond adorable. 

Whilst the restaurant itself is closed during Covid restrictions, delivery and pick up is available and remains immensely popular, turning out an average of 150 pizzas a night in high season. I live for these quirky back street discoveries, totally unexpected and exceeding expectation.

First things first, the 36 hr prove dough is unique. Neapolitan at heart, yet crisp with a French influence. Owner and former chef Chris Phillips describes the core of the cornicione almost croissant-like and I see what he means. Those that find Neapolitan too soft and prefer a crisper base this is the one, but the all important chew is still there too - I've not had a pizza quite like it. It's specifically been crafted to travel better for delivery (makes sense as that's their core business) and the oven is spectacular too - a proper, roaring wood fired beast. 

Also noteworthy is the stealth provenance at play. There's almost an insane attention to detail here which pizza thrives on. Being a simple product it leaves no margin for error or corner cutting - skill, process and your ingredient quality are for the World to see which is why I love it so much. Easy to do, difficult to master.

As always I try a simple topping to gauge a pizza - a Napoletana or a Margherita. The menu is unusual in places so The Ocean One was closest with a tomato base, fior di latte cheese, anchovies, capers and roasted chilli flakes. That base is the absolute one; light, airy, chewy, tasty...everything it should be but even better. A good measure of a good pizza is that you should be easy able to eat the whole thing and not feel like you're going to keel over, and I was able to wolf this down with ease. 

On The Pepperoni One a Hungarian pepperoni is used over an Italian one because of the intense smoke and nothing like the greased slick sausage you'd typically find. 

Looking at the menu, there's a touch to every ingredient and the first time I've felt the need to try the more creative options. Although my first visit was an invite, I knew I had to return pronto.

Despite my very, very strong opinions on Hawaiian pizza this was the first time in my life I was convinced to try one, and no I wasn't drunk or being at held at gunpoint. My first visit I'd point blank refused but Chris came out with the maple glazed pineapple that is pre roasted in the wood oven. I knew then that this was not your average pizzeria.

Cue the Marks and Spencer's sexy music... "This isn't pineapple pizza, this is Wild Flour pineapple pizza...".  They cook the ham as a joint and by roasting the pineapple it means you're not chugging down on chunks from Del Monte. Pre roasting removes the juice and whilst it remains sweet, it's subtle, stickier, slightly candied and with the quality ham is really quite a delicious thing.

Hell we may as well break down all my barriers now. Garlic bread - another insane thing commonly found on menus that weirdos order as starters to a pizza along with the likes of dough balls and chips. But here, the butter is sous vide and garlic infused before it hits the dough, altering the burning point and avoiding that acrid taste. Truly a surprising highlight on the menu and a must order.

And on and on; mushrooms are baked in the oven with balsamic reminding me of my Italian aunt's preserved ones, chilli flakes are roasted...the halloumi salad I had, the cheese had been marinated in paprika, honey and black pepper before a stint in the wood oven, imparting a glorious sweet, sticky chew. 

My limit was reached with the special, where they go REALLY out, this time The Chilli Dog One with gourmet hot dog sausage, ground chilli, lightly pickled onions, American mustard, bacon crumb. I have no doubt that the gourmet junk food brigade would be all over this one and the chilli alone was delicious as I scooped it up - give me a bowl of this any time. On a pizza? Too far for me. They've also had an Indian pizza in the past that proved popular, inspired by the Goan dish Dal Makahni and was 6 months in development. You know what? I'd probably order it.

Dessert pizza - ha she'll hate this right! I despise those awful, sickly Nutella pizzas to end flabby garlic bread and pizza doughball dinners which you'll finish digesting sometime in 2022. Yet here, the dough is shaped into a fluffy doughnut shape, yes with Nutella, but with homemade candied orange, roasted pistachios to give a saline edge and a side of marscapone. This had a huge Sicilian vibe, think cannoli filling, which I was all over. Ridiculously good, grown up and totally different.  

Starting 3 years ago in a back garden further up the road, and now at home here for a year with a full scale wood fired pizza and permanent premises, the dough has been a labour of love. As much as this would make any Italian grimace, Wild Flour are not tied to tradition, they do what feels right which is often misguided approach in the wrong hands. But here the intention is right and they have the craft and vision to turn pizza on its head. 

I knew on my first visit but returned to make sure and can safely say this really is the best pizza in the Brighton area. People of Ovingdean I apologise - your secret is out. 

Address: Greenways, Ovingdean Brighton BN2 7BA

I was invited on the first occasion but returned as a paying customer. Words and thoughts, as always, my own. 

Top 7 Best Pizzas in Brighton

Since my my 2015 best pizza in Brighton round up (the most popular post on the blog ever) I've eaten a lot of pizza around these parts. Regular readers will be well versed about my passion for pizza, even featuring in Daniel Young's Where To Eat Pizza tome. Its craft and simplicity never gets old and well, it's just a comforting, lovely thing to eat with family, with friends, with dates, with just yourself. There's never a bad occasion for a pizza. 

Quite a few new players have stepped up in more recent years which has raised the dough game, but not always enough to knock the established pizzerias off their perch though. And although the original post listed some absolute howlers (and boy, were there some true horrors), I've got my positive pizza pants on, and sticking to only the good in this update.

A word on full reviews and images - some may be quite historic but pizzerias are typically my "night off" or family nights. Pizzerias are the restaurants I frequent the most, and I normally don't repost full blog reviews but I'm confident in knowing the ones I have linked to have remained consistent. 

1. Wild Flour 

(Full review)

Top spot goes to Wild Flour, tucked away in Ovingdean, the attention to detail is immense. Each element is crafted - they even roast the chilli flakes. This remains the only time I've ever willingly eaten a Hawaiian pizza - hams are baked in the wood oven and hand carved, the pineapple maple glazed and roasted.

The 36 hour dough is a Neapolitan with a croissant-like twist and cooked in their magnificent wood fired oven. 

Topping vary from the safe to the wild. Don't miss their wood fired doughnut shaped pizza for dessert. 

Price of a Napoletana: £12
Home Delivery? Collection and Delivery

Address: Greenways, Ovingdean Brighton BN2 7BA

2. Fatto a Mano 

(Full review)

Brighton's major pizza player and the one we owe to introducing good pizza to the masses of the city. Authentic and a temple to true Neapolitan pizza close to home in their simple but stylish restaurants.

I've lost count of the pizzas I've had here, my staple order of a Napoletana never fails, washed down with a Hugo or a glass of wine or five, it remains one of the best value places to eat. The menus are refreshingly short, toppings traditional, and the staff are glorious. 

Equally good for date night or family meal (but shame they dropped the kids eat free deal), they hit the ground running and have stayed true to their ethos since. 

Price of a Napoletana: £8.50
Home Delivery? Collection and Delivery

London Road: 77 London Road, Brighton BN1 4JF
North Laine: 25 Gloucester Road, Brighton BN1 4AQ
Hove: 65-67 Church Road, Hove BN3 2BD

3. Yamino

Bringing us something totally different to Brighton, Yamino serves up Roman pizza by the slice. 

Lighter, airier and crisper than Neapolitan, and sold al taglio, or by the weight back in Rome but here in handy portions so you can mix and match a few to try out the excellent toppings. You'll need 2 or 3 at least for a good feed but you'll want to try more. 

They are always playing around with flavours but don't miss the potato and onion one!

Price of a Napoletana: £n/a
Home Delivery? Collection 
Address: 4A Montpelier Place, Brighton, BN1 3BF 

4. Nuposto 

(Full review)

I think Nuposto remains one of the most underrated pizzerias in Brighton. For me the dough is exceptional. So good you'd almost never know their ovens were gas - the chew and the leoparding is consistently on point and the toppings on the more traditional options good quality and the perfect balance. 

They get lost for their tourist trap location, garish branding and too much diversity on their menu as they launched into offering pasta as well as a hefty starters list which masquerades them as an anglo-Italian rather than the real deal. 

Look past that, don't get distracted on the menu and you won't be disappointed. Particularly great for family dining. 

Price of a Napoletana: £8.50
Home Delivery? Delivery 
Address: 14 West Street, Brighton, BN1 2RE

5. Purezza 

(Full review)

I'll hold my hands up and say I was more than skeptical about an exclusively vegan pizzeria. What is pizza if not meats and cheese? But they make their own "mozzarella" with Italian brown rice and have developed the best vegan cheeses I've tried.

Toppings are creative - inspired by their meat alternatives and clever use of vegetables. But at the heart of any good pizza is good dough and here it is pillowy and light, with the fattest cornicone in town - it's a delight to eat. You can also opt for hemp or gluten free bases so this place makes what can be an off limits food accessible to all. 

Price of a Napoletana: n/a prices around £13
Home Delivery? Delivery 

Brighton: 12 St James’s Street, BN2 1RE
Bristol: 79-81 Gloucester Road, BS7 8AS
Camden: 45-47 Parkway, NW1 7PN
Hove: 86-87 Western Road, BN3 1JB 

6. Nanninella 

(full review)

Although the oven is gas, Nanninella make a darn fine pizza. This adorable restaurant makes you feel like you're on holiday in Italy and the flavours remain traditional and authentic. 

Also good are the range of Neapolitan street food starters. 

Price of a Napoletana: £10
Home Delivery? Delivery 
Address: 26 Preston Street, Brighton BN1 2HN

7. VIP

I've only recently returned to VIP and I think they've improved a lot. Bases are more robust and well formed and toppings a better ratio. 

Family run, truly Italian and a very nice little restaurant just by Old Steine that makes you feel like you've fallen into an Italian delicatessen. kind of have. 

Their signature oblong shaped pizzas are cooked in their wood fired oven and most of the cheeses and meats come from their own farm in Naples - a huge bonus, and you can taste the quality. I do like the dough here, slightly more robust than others but always enjoyable.  

The menu is bewilderingly huge with over 60 pizzas *scream* plus a full Italian food menu in addition. You can also purchase their produce to take home. 

Price of a Napoletana: £7.25
Home Delivery? Delivery 
Brighton: 19 Old Steine, Brighton BN1 1EL
Saltdean: 67 Lustrells Vale, Saltdean BN2 8FA

REVIEW: Wild Flor, Hove

Wild Flor, modestly pitched as a neighbourhood restaurant, is an unquestionably classy little joint. The bistro-inspired interior is stripped back with just enough elegant touches and wine is given as much status as the food.

And rejoice; this really is a restaurant for people who enjoy eating. You're not left picking at curious chef-foraged garnish, components are not 10cm apart on the plate - instead the big flavoured dishes here draw you in like a hug. 

Ingredients are used at their seasonal peak, so much so that by the time you read this, the chalkboard menu will have undoubtedly changed, but the style and tone of the classic dishes are consistent.

Simple dishes like unassuming pea and goat cheese toasts are sophisticated and surprising and sweetcorn soup was given a perfect partner in a salty and spicy nduja focaccia.

Salt cod rings alarm bells for me, the ghosts of putrid baccala past haunting me from my childhood, but here, as the classic dish brandade; soft, silky and creamy with olive oil and potatoes given a summery makeover with ripe tomatoes and fragrant herbs. I'm a convert. 

Roast chicken leg, is again, a humble dish elevated to something more with seasonal runner beans, a rich chicken broth and a brightening aioli. This is true comfort food, and I'm totally here for it. 

Lighter was the dish of pink trout, cooked within seconds of perfect, a balance of fresh cucumber and earthy notes from horseradish to complement this fish.

Never miss the potato dishes here though. Mark II of the crispy beef fat potatoes that were a rave from their launch, the Pommes Anna are even better, more refined and a gorgeous side dish to anything. Don't kid yourself that you'll share. 

One thing I've noticed here is that desserts are very grown up and tend to be herbal and fruit based rather than sticky and sweet kind - a good thing in my book. The gooseberry fool leant toward savoury, with the unmistakable tartness of gooseberries. A small rice pudding with jammy figs and fig leaf oil was equally as good, and would be perfect with a dessert wine. 

Service is something that deserves a mention. Effortless and casual, yet finely tuned and exactly on brand for the food in terms of knowledge to help diners navigate the menu and wines.

From their opening in 2018, Wild Flor were an instant hit, landing them a well-deserved number 3 spot in the local restaurant awards and gaining national coverage where Brighton sometimes gets overlooked. Founders Robert Maynard, Faye Hudson and James Thomson have all come from the front line of the best hospitality in Brighton. They know their onions as well as their patch and have created a place that this city seemed to have needed.

New to the team however is head chef Chris Trundle who joins them from Michelin-starred Manfred’s in Copenhagen and Lyle’s in Shoreditch, along with sous chef Laurence Kinghorn-East who began his career at acclaimed Gingerman Group in Brighton before taking positions at the Michelin-starred kitchens of Matt Gillanat The Pass and with Merlin Labron-Johnson at Portland in London and latterly at Osipin Bruton, Somerset.

The kitchen changes haven't altered the strong ethos and style of Wild Flor, but seems to have pushed them that little bit further forward. Dishes appear more polished and refined and I have a hunch that this will evolve further.

42 Church Road 
Hove BN3 2FN

The Italian Wine - Save 15% on the range of small production Italian wines

2020 has changed a lot of things for us, including our buying habits. A natter with my mate, who just happens to be a consumer behavioural specialist (oooh), agreed - we are buying less, but better where we can, and investing in our homes both in a practical way and enriching our experiences whilst there too. Makes sense, we’re stuck indoors more so why not! And it’s not just the big extension or garden landscaping - small purchases from those really posh candles, luxury beauty, to cooking kits from fine dining restaurants, quality foods and better drinks…anything to fill the void of restricted freedom, or maybe we’ve saved a fortune not going on that overseas holiday.

The Italian Wine is a new delivery service offering unique collection of limited production wines handpicked from small production vineyards in Italy. Often these come with a hefty price tag but because of TIW’s buying power direct from the vineyard, you get them at a much better cost. Based in Brighton, but with national coverage, the local/Italian link was a perfect fit for me to share with you.

Italian wine is brilliant (yes I would say that) but like everything you consume from this country it often comes with a story or passion behind it, be it the source of the ingredient or a multi-generational link. There are many niche grape varieties and small producers, Italian wine is really more than just Montepulciano or Prosecco. The wines come with a back story and technical information if you are interested, which you can use to impress/bore your mates with (limited to 5 as this goes live - thanks Boris) or just enjoy it, but the knowledge of provenance really adds to a product’s appeal to me. Yes I am that person that drives 126km for a particular truffle.

I tried a bottle of the Pinot Nero Brut Rosé from Conte Vistarino. Carlo Giorgi di Vistarino introduced the Pinot Nero grape from Burgundy to Oltreò Pavese, the north-west Italian region of Lombardy, between 19th/20th century. So successful, the region remains to this day Italy’s largest Pinot Noir cultivation area.

The Vistarino family have gone on to improve and hone their wines since the work of Carlo Giorgi di Vistarino in 1850, gaining well deserved awards and recognition. Leading the winery into the present day is refreshingly a woman from the family, impressively named Ottavia Giorgi Vimercati di Vistarino, a big plus for me and something I hope to read about more. 

The Pinot Nero Brut Rosé is produced exclusively with Pinot Nero grapes using the Charmat Method (which Prosecco production uses). The colour is gorgeous, a soft peach pink and has notes of red fruit, cream and a touch floral with good, crisp acidity.

This wine is perfect for the last hurrah of summer, alfresco dining and lighter meals, particularly seafood, or just enjoying in the sun as an aperitif. At £13.95 it’s a very good price, for a very good wine.

I’ve been given a discount code so you can enjoy 15% off The Italian Wine range. Visit and enter the code THEGRAPHICFOODIE.

AD I was sent a bottle of wine for review, words and thought my own. Post contains an affiliate code. 

REVIEW: Med. restaurant, Brighton

Med is the Brighton restaurant I've been waiting for. A swathe of casual eateries have popped up in the city during Covid times and, hand on heart, my enthusiasm had been waning for local food for the first time in decades. Because, if I've been craving anything right now after a spot of enforced abstinence from restaurants, it's going to an actual restaurant. With napkins, plates, nice wines, a bit of pampering and food you eat with, you know, cutlery. 

Despite Covid, we have also had a large hole in our dining arsenal for simple, but elegant Mediterranean food. But Med has arrived with sunny small plates of holiday memories, which is what we all need right now, particularly those mourning the loss of their summer holibob abroad. 

Although I visited on the opening weekend and my rule of not reviewing until a few weeks have passed, due to common teething issues until a place beds in, plates and opinion have been pretty consistent from the off here. The people behind Med are by no means new kids on the block, having held up a pretty strong local presence with Wolfsmouth and their numerous pub popups, as well as  the slicker small plate operation at Paradiso Social. All of that is now concentrated into this new spot and their delivery seems rather faultless.

If you're an eye roller to the small plate format, this could well change your mind. Here it truly does work and you can mix and match to your heart's content without creating either a monstrosity of a meal nor a colossal bill. 

Grown up hummus was given a pop of flavour from the unquestionable flavours of crunchy dukkah sprinkled on top, and scooped up with their excellent focaccia is an easy way kick off to things here, washed down with one of their cocktails from the short and sweet menu -  a very good negroni sbagliato hit the spot for me. 

The main "big dish" option is a market fish of the day. A simple grilled fish to share is a thing of beauty and today the choice was plaice, one of my favourites. De-boning whole fish at the table is an enjoyable ritual, so glad we were left to our own devices with it. Add in the patatas bravas and charred artichokes and courgettes and that's a meal complete. 

Of course don't stop there though. Dish of the night for me were clams with chorizo in a fragrant wine broth, served with a spoon I imagine, not to serving the clams with but to ensure you drink up every last drop from the bowl. Do that.

Portuguese style chicken is worth the order, a gooey chourico croquette and piquant romesco.

Most surprising was the cantaloupe melon dish. I've had thousands before, mainly depressing fridge cold wedges at wedding receptions, but this was a head turner; dressed up with avocado and cured cucumbers, with a combination of gorgeous herbs making for a light, fresh, sweet and delicious dish.

Wines have been treated equally well with a carafe working out the same cost as half bottle so you can work your way around the list a little with your meal. The list is nicely curated and unpretentious too. 

Dining here was a true delight actually, and it wasn't just the thirst for returning back to restaurants. It really is good full stop; the attention to detail is everywhere. Crowd pleasing, simple food, which hits that sweet spot of being well executed but relaxed and priced honestly.
2/3 Little East Street
Brighton. BN1 1HT