EVENT: Brighton Wine Week: FoodLab

Brighton seems to be a hub of cooking talent at the moment, with the top restaurants bidding for diners attention with increasing creativity. One of the hottest food events in town has been the Brighton Food & Drink Festival's FoodLab event; where top local chefs worked with some of the area's best producers to create spectacular one off dishes. Understandably, it's always sold out.

This year, for the new Brighton Wine Week, it was the turn of the young chefs (under 26) to showcase their talent in the FoodLab. Hosted at Etch, which was perfect, it made for one of the best lunches I've had in a while.

Seeing as it's a one-off, this isn't a review; just a showcase of the event and the excellent dishes we were treated to. But if you can, definitely look this event up in the next festival in Autumn (6th-16th September) which seems to be growing year on year, with a number of additional side events like this. Book early!

Before that though is Brighton Cocktail Week - grab a £10 wristband then go on a crawl of over 30 bars and restaurants in the city who'll be offering a BCW cocktail for £5 to wristband holders. There are also plenty of food matching and masterclasses on that week too - see the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival site for more details. The cocktail fusion collaboration at La Choza, Boho Gelato frozen dinner and historical feast and cocktails inspired by female food writers of the 20s and 30s all look particularly awesome.

Isobel Humbey | The Salt Room X Red Roaster
Isobel set the bar high with pork belly, octopus and blood orange with Red Roaster coffee and black pudding crumb served with a shot of coffee bean butter washed vodka.

Sam Watson | Ginger Fox X Ridgeview
Probably dish of the day for me was this crab tortellini, braised fennel and mussel and Ridgeview Chardonnay broth, perfect with the gentle acidity of the accompanying glass of Ridgeview Bloomsbury.

Eliott Buchet | Jeremy’s Restaurant X Bedlam Brewery
This was very clever, using all the elements of beer production from Bedlam Brewery. Braised pig cheek, salt baked yellow beetroot with malt, red beetroot fermented with yeast, spherical beer pearls and a malt tuille.

Jackson Heron | 64 Degrees X Trenchmore Farm
It was very ballsy to serve something that looks so low-key and based on a kebab shop sarnie in this setting, but using sublime Sussex-wagyu cross beef from Trenchmore Farm, it hit the taste mark square on.

George Thomas | Issac At X La Cave A Fromage
Sour apple gel, candied walnuts and poached apple with a goat's cheese ice-cream proves that classic flavours are hard to beat.

Michael Notman-Watt | 64 Degrees X Blackdown Spirits
Not much to look at, but I loved the boozy ice-cream sandwich served with a gently spiced rhubarb lassi in this gin & juice concept dish.

George Boarer | Etch X Wobblegate
An ideal end to the meal was this fresh jelly and panna cotta using Wobblegate's Bramley juice and a brilliant Cox and Bramley sorbet.

Shout out to Seb Cole from Boho Gelato who made the most delicious apple and liquorice sorbet cocktail to kick the dinner off - you know when a drink ends and you're sad (in a good way, not a wino way)...yeah, that.

I dined as a guest of Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival. Words and thoughts, as always, my own. 

PRODUCT REVIEW: The Kari Club recipe box

I've reviewed a number of recipe boxes over the years with varying success, but on the whole, it's been a positive experience. The ones I've enjoyed the most though are those that bring a cultural edge, transporting me to a far flung edges of the World with unusual ingredients and lesser known recipes.

Aside from the nicely designed presentation (obvs), what made a particularly good first impression with The Kari Club, a new Brighton-based Indian recipe box subscription service, was the cooking sheet taught me a number of things on page one even before I turned on the hob:
  • "Curry" is Anglicised from the Tamil work "Kari" meaning sauce. Noted for the next pub quiz.
  • I've never washed basmati rice but you need to do it quite excessively, and it really makes a difference. Doh!
  • It's best to scrape the skin of the ginger with a spoon rather than peeling/chopping it off it as the sweetest part is just under the skin.
  • Blending cashews is a really easy way to thicken a curry sauce and add silkiness.
Another was that this particular recipe was based on one of Founder, Minesh Angihotri mother's. I think we can watch celebrity chefs on the TV until the cows come home, but you will learn the real gold from mums (my ex-mother-in-law and her Walkers crisps topped tuna bake aside, of course). There are also some well produced videos on their website, pretty much a cook-along, to help.

Recipes are written (when he's not pinching from his mum) by Minesh, who is behind the well regarded Brighton restaurant, Indian Summer. On the menu in this box was Mamaji's Chicken, Sweet Potato & Carro Thoran, rice and chapati.

I really enjoyed making this - I felt I learnt a lot and was slightly more challenging than some other recipe boxes. Not that that's a negative, it's just some don't really feel like cooking, just assembling and are very pedestrian. This showed good use of spicing throughout stages and the bread element was a new thing learned - I won't be impressing any Indian mammas with the shape anytime soon but bye bye supermarket chapati.

It took around an hour too cook with reading through all the ingredients and watching the videos (optional but really helps). I did cook the elements simultaneously but I cook a lot and imagine you'd get a bit flustered if you didn't. But there's no reason not to take it at a more leisurely pace and enjoy the process.

Only negative was the oil quantities you could possibly get wrong - you could tip the "remaining oil" in the thoran but you'd need some for the chapati and rice later on.

The design is really nice; simple, clear and the tips in red throughout the recipe sheets handy. Ingredients were excellent in terms of quality. Meat from Handcross butchers, tomatoes that smelt good and spices far more vibrant than your dusty supermarket versions. The kit came with a full recipe so you are free to recreate it yourself, which I will be certainly doing.

And the best bit. Darn, darn it was delicious. Certainly restaurant grade delicious. Cook it for a crowd and they'll be talking about it for weeks delicious. It was such a rich, luscious and fragrant thing to eat; all the elements worked perfectly. The curry itself was silky and you got a real sense of all the spices. I adored the textural crunch from the thoran and the fact it lightened a heavy meal.

Prices are not too bad for what this is; you can buy a one off for £20 for 1, £25 for 2 and £40 for 4 people and would make an easy dinner party option to impress for the latter - it's restaurant grade food and for £10 a head that's remarkable. You can also go for a monthly subscription.

Portion-wise this two portion box would feed two handsomely or three sensibly, so is very generous. Expect some left overs or next day if you can resist.

Let's face it, it's not a sustainable way to shop everyday, financially or environmentally (even though the packaging was almost entirely recyclable) yet the format of recipe boxes tend to prove popular for a number of reasons. Less food waste in many respects, but number one is that they tend to take you out of your cooking comfort zone, yet guide you through it, and it's pretty exciting unpacking a kit for a meal. Well for me anyway.

Delivery is nationwide. For more information visit thekariclub.com

I was sent a sample box for review. Word and thoughts, as always, my own.

REVIEW: The Set Bar, Brighton

Now three years old, The Set has proved a steady contender in Brighton's restaurant scene, and has been good at adjusting and responding to the ebb and flow of local dining demands. The space, housed inside the achingly trendy Artist's Residence Hotel, now occupies the entire ground floor level and has been divided into The Set Restaurant (the original restaurant that is still serving a choice of three set menus), The Fix bar (formerly The Cocktail Shack), and The Set Bar. The latter is where I'm dining; a casual space offering breakfasts and brunches such as Arnold Bennet, pig cheek on toast, crab and eggs until noon then a tapas style menu until evening.

I've always loved the feel of the place, it's one of the cooler spots in Brighton for sure, slightly edgy, casual but stylish. I have already made good use of the new bar area and although a bit of a squeeze in the layout, is very much worth a visit. Cocktails seem to be sippers, very strong, very dangerous but have a unique twist to them. If you are dining then make time for an aperitif here first. 

Divided into hot and cold dishes, there is a decent selection to choose from on the evening tapas menu, or small plates, whatever...Dishes are tiny, but prices hover around the £4-5 mark so you can afford to make a good dent in the menu. The food is more stripped and simpler than the restaurant menus but the influence, obviously, is present.

I enjoyed all of the savoury dishes. The pillowy focaccia was delicious; served with a chunky bacon jam that had sweetness and stickiness in abundance. 

There is a good range of Moons Green Farm Charcuterie, sadly the Boozy Rabbit was sold out but the Wild Fennel Saucisson reminded me of the proper, well cured salami my family used to make. Exactly as I like it; dryer, chewy in a good way and fragrant with fennel. 

The potato dish may have seemed boring but was anything but. Roast potatoes, the innards blitzed to a puree with buttermilk and the skins deep-fried, served with a vibrant herb oil to lift the dish. 

Pig cheeks are a favourite and this gelatious, marmitey hunk was cooked beautifully, collapsing at the mere sight of the fork. Served simply on hummus, I'd highly recommend it. 

I had to Google Alexander buds (I'll save you the effort - it's a flowering plant which grows on cliff tops and in seaside hedgerows, first introduced to the UK by the Romans) cooked and dressed with a decent squeeze of lemon and hollandaise sauce, they were lovely. Also good on the vegetable front were charred leeks (above).

Trout tartare was served in a very fine, crisp pastry with teeny cubes of cucumber and herbs for freshness and to cut through the oiliness of the fish. 

Of course, I had to order the squid burger in its dramatic black bun. The squid was butter tender and the wild garlic aioli a great sauce option for it. 

We probably chose badly on the desserts; the malted marshmallows and rhubarb cheesecake probably better and although the madeleines had a nice gently tang of orange running through them, I'd have preferred them in the afternoon with a cuppa than for dessert. Chocolate I'm never going to want to end a meal with but if I'm ever sharing food, the other person is always going to order it. The chocolate mouse balls coated in a crisp chocolate layer and served with caramel would satisfy a chocaholic I imagine, but for me the ruthless sweetness of it all is too much. 

The wine list has had a good deal of thought put into it, and staff seem very knowledgeable about them, choosing us wines by the glass that were all ideal with the food. Service in general is on the good side of cool too. 

The Set Bar in the evening is handy if you are in The Fix and get hungry and just want a few dishes to nibble on. I would say for a full meal you'll need at least 10 dishes between two, maybe more. For lunch it's a good choice and less would suffice. 

For a stylish meal and one of the better spots in Brighton, The Set Bar is a decent option that's lighter on the wallet than it's bigger brother next door. I think it's a good use of the space and I like how adaptable the whole venue is depending on what sort of evening you are in the mood for.

The Set Restaurant / The Fix /The Set Bar
Artist Residence Hotel
33 Regency Square
Brighton BN1 2GG

I dined as a guest of The Set Bar. Words and thoughts, as always, my own. 

REVIEW: The Pass, South Lodge County House Hotel, West Sussex

Brighton has done well out of South Lodge, a five star Sussex country house hotel with acclaimed restaurants; the three AA rosette award-winning The Pass—formerly one of the few Michelin star holders in the area—and more affordable two AA Rosetted Camellia. The Holy Trinity of freshish chef blood to the city have all hailed from their kitchen; Matt Gillan (Pike & Pine), Steve Edwards (Etch.) and Johnny Stanford (Pascere, now formerly of). So it seemed a duty to jump in the car (and we all know how much I avoid leaving Brighton to dine) and pay homage to this mothership.

Despite my travel reluctance, I do like the theatre of arriving at these piles in the country. Big, grand, loads of stone and ridiculously long drives. South Lodge itself is a really quirky mix of the old and new. Modern, twisted glass chandeliers hang in the traditionally panelled bar, classic oil paintings alongside contemporary works and none more of a contrast than The Pass restaurant itself, which does have a smidgen of corporate fit out that isn't entirely comfortable. Also, it feels as if you are sitting in the kitchen itself (well, you are) and if that's not voyeuristic enough, screens projecting the chefs at work are plastered over the walls as well. There's certainly nowhere to hide, but the hushed concentration of chefs at work is broken up by their delivery direct to the table, to explain the dishes in detail to you. This format seems to divide diners, but if like me you are the sort of person that geeks out on this style of dining, then it is certainly the place for you.

At the helm these days is Ian Swainson who arrived from the Samling Hotel in Cumbria, where he held a Michelin star for three years. And as an extra treat, Tom Surgey from Ridgeview Wines was waiting in the cellar with some of their glorious bottles of English sparkling wines to accompany the chefs snacks; a spherified tomato with olive oil emulsion on top of a fine Parmesan crisp was a memory of summers in the med, and mushroom risotto served on pine - and hey, what's fine dining without the appearance of dry ice?

Dishes are named so first up was "Revisiting a Classic"; a present yet delicate oyster ice-cream, Tabasco pearls and pickled shallots were a serious wake up call to the palette. It was perfect with my all-time favourite sparkling; the creamy Ridgeview Blanc de Blancs.

"Where it all Began", I guess a nod to primitive fire and smoke cooking, was rosemary-smoked wood pigeon, rosemary mayo and a really interesting red pepper meringue, masquerading as pieces of coal. Attention to detail extended beyond the food to the plate, streaked with fiery red to emphasise the concept.

I thought this would be dish of the night for me, yet (spoiler alert) I said that about the next 4 courses. Swainson draws his inspiration from artists and with presentation inspired by Miró, looked as beautiful as it tasted. A delicate piece of red mullet was given punch from harissa, contrasting with a silky lobster bisque and accented with fresh grapefruit and candied citrus. This was made even more brilliant by the unusual pairing of a chilled 10 year tawny port with it, cherry fruits yet had the acidity to complement the citrus in the dish.

I thought Zinfandel was just the cheap pink plonk you drank at BBQs (clearly I need to sort my WSET ASAP - on the to-do). This one - Gnarly Head Zinfadel  made from vines over 30 years old (and yeah, they look gnarly), was a gentle giant, pleanty of fruit but with a little toasty smoke ideal for the incredible smoked pork rib, the smell alone of which silenced the table on arrival. The meat was cured for 12 hours then put in the smoker before being glazed with 28 ingredients, no less, giving it the desired yield. It was just a lovely, lovely thing to eat, meltingly tender, rich, sticky and sweet.

"From dark to light" wasn't just a play on the the dramatic monochrome aesthetic with soft, sweet John Dory and perfect squid pasta. The contrasting flavours and texture at play were also elements that made this a great dish too.

Crafted specifically for Ridgeview's Blanc De Noirs was a black pudding stuffed rabbit saddle, rabbit "cappuccino" foam, stuffed morel which I think did each other a justice.

If I did have to pick a dish of the night though, gun to my head, it would have to be "Apples are Green, Roses are Red, This One's Gold". A modern take on the tarte tatin, it was an absolute showstopper in terms of technique and taste - merging childhood sweetie thrills of Turkish delight and sour apple with grown up edge from the rosemary ice cream and toasted granola. The Grenadine and rosewater compressed apple pieces were formed into a corolla to mimic a rose, surrounded by a fine rice paper and adorned with edible gold. So darn beautiful, it was almost criminal to destroy with a fork. Every now and then you get THAT dish, and this was certainly one of those.

We ended the meal with a lot of fun and not something you see every day; an artist's palette of edible "paints" purees of various flavours. Alongside this were sheets of popcorn paper and brushes. Sitting opposite Tom, clearly the only sensible thing to do was a portraiture session. I think my work was certainly better than his attempt, either that or I have serious work to do on my mono brow and a resemblance to Mr Potato Head. Cheers for that!

I would say the wine parings were particularly good on the night. If you can, leave the car at home (I was kicking myself).

As you can see, I had a great time and it's always such a privilege to eat such creative, crafted and memorable dishes such as these. If you want a side order of experience and showmanship, along with a truly special yet fun meal, The Pass is a great dining option.

The Pass at South Lodge
Brighton Road
Lower Beeding

I dined as a guest of Exclusive Hotels. Words and thoughts, as always, are my own.

EVENT: Brighton Wine Week, Thursday 5 – Sunday 15 April 2018

The Brighton Food Festival are launching a new event to their collection, and I think it's something most of us will be enthusiastic to get on board with!

Brighton Wine Week will be running 5-15th April and at the heart of the event is a series of amazing collaborations between winemakers and some of the best restaurants we have in town, from specially crafted supper nights, masterclasses or special menus that will only run during the festival week. There is also a trail (read trés posh wine crawl), chef exchanges and tasting events.

I will say that some of the headline dinners get booked up incredibly fast - possibly already so (slapped wrist for my lateness) - but full details and how to purchase tickets are available from www.brightonfoodfestival.com.

Top picks:

Running throughout will be participating venues showcasing a special menu featuring three of their favourite wines – including one from England – all priced at just £5-7. Venues include Blanch House, The Chilli Pickle, Drakes, Fourth & Church, Harbour Hotel, Isaac-At, Jeremy’s Restaurant, Market Restaurant Bar, Metrodeco, The Bull in Ditchling, and The Salt Room.

Thursday 5 April 2018 
Ridgeview Wine Dinner at Murmur | Advance tickets £65
Murmur sure have made a good impression on the dining scene and they will join forces with  English sparkling wine producer Ridgeview to create a bespoke tasting menu. Over a four-course menu, Ridgeview’s Tom Surgey will be presenting four sparkling wines from the Ridgeview range expertly paired with Murmur’s modern British take on contemporary dishes.

Sunday 8 April 2018
FoodLab: Emerging Talent at Etch | Advance tickets £70
The Foodlab events are always sell out and this year sees young talent (under 26) from Brighton’s hottest kitchens be randomly matched in advance with a local food or drink producer to create an inspiring and experimental dish. Chefs include: George Boarer (Etch; Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Awards 2017 Young Chef of the Year), Eliott Buchet (Jeremy’s Restaurant) Jackson Heron (Murmur), Isobel Humbey (The Salt Room), Michael Norman-Watts (64 Degrees), George Thomas (Isaac-At) and Sam Watson (The Ginger Fox). 

Tuesday 10 April 2018 
The sparkling wines of Emilia Romagna dinner at Pascere | Advance tickets £55
This already acclaimed restaurant, well known for its emphasis on great wine, hosts an exclusive four-course dinner by chef Johnny Stanford designed to match lesser-known sparkling wines of Emilia Romagna in Italy.

Wednesday 11 April 2018 
A Taste of the Mediterranean wine dinner at The Salt Room | Advance tickets £75
Executive chef Dave Mothersill’s four course menu for the evening will echo the tastes of the Mediterranean with inspirational seafood, fish and meat dishes with expertly paired wines. The evening will be hosted by Steve Daniel and Joe Wadhams from Hallgarten. Steve Daniel has one of the most respected palates in the industry and has been a real pioneer of Mediterranean wine over the last 30 years. Joe has worked closely with The Salt Room and sister restaurant The Coal Shed helping curate their wine lists. They will be showcasing a diverse range of indigenous varietals from the likes of the Balearics, Greece and Croatia.

Wednesday 11 April 2018 Sherry Night at Market Restaurant & Bar | Advance tickets £50
I LOVE sherry so obviously had to include this one! Market Head chef Ian Atkinson (previously of one and two Michelin star and two hat restaurants in the the UK and Australia) will be creating a Sherry-inspired five course menu alongside a matching Sherry flight that’ll be presented to you by their special guest and Sherry expert.

Friday 13 April 2018 
Make Your Case at La Cave à Fromage | Advance tickets £35
This is such a fun "punk wine tasting" event that always has great feedback, forget everything you know about wine tastings! 

Sunday 15 April 2018 
Redroaster Ridgeview Afternoon Tea at Redroaster | Advance tickets £30
I was a huge fan of their last Ridgeview dinner collaboration, but this time it takes the format of afternoon tea. Expect afternoon tea re-imagined with chef Matt Gillan's unique style served alongside a glass of Ridgeview who are leading the way in crafting world-class English sparkling wine.

Other events to look out for later in the year is the return of Brighton Cocktail Week (6-15 July) and the Food Festival's Autumn Harvest (6-16 September). For more information visit www.brightonfoodfestival.com.

REVIEW: The Chilli Pickle, Brighton

Some restaurants are more than a place to fill your stomach. A special few just seem to run parallel through parts of your life and The Chilli Pickle is certainly one that's done that for me. First dates, fiftieth dates, graduations, birthday celebrations, engagement toasting, house exchanges, work Christmas dos, work leaving dos, the first scary restaurant visit with your first born, trying to instigate the birth of your overdue second born, girls' night's out, make ups and the dreaded divorces. Be it laughter or tears...there was never an occasion where a Chilli Pickle tandoori platter didn't hit the nail in marking the occasion or comforting sorrows. It has been one freaking hell of a decade.

Here's my first review in 2009 (EMBARRASSING!!), 201020142015 as well as Chilli Pickle Canteen reviews in 2013 and 2015 where their home delivery saved my life and sanity during the "Saving Private Ryan" esque early days of parenthood.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of The Chilli Pickle, quite an accolade for a restaurant in these times. They made us put down the Anglo-Indian food we'd been eating and introduced us to authentic, regional specialities. We fell in love with King Thali Monday's (just a £10!) and there was almost a borderline riot when they took the pork knuckle off the menu. They even made us get excited about getting an Indian take-away delivered to our homes for goodness sake! Never letting quality slip, they've owned and developed their brand sympathetically and stayed true to their vision, whilst collecting award after award. And owners Dawn and Alun Sperring, are still very much at the helm of the operation too, which I've always believed to be a key part of a restaurant's success.

To mark the occasion they have refreshed the interior of their Brighton site in Jubilee Square, yet thankfully, it still feels very much like the restaurant we all know and love. There also seems to be a bubble of expansion that's just about to happen and I have hope that they retain the essence of what makes this restaurant so good. I'm sure they will.

Most importantly, the food is as delightful as it always has been. You could pretty much throw a dart at the menu and have a great meal. They probably won't let you do that though, particularly on their freshly painted walls.

I was lucky to head down and try the equally refreshed menu. The starters are always too good to skip; the delicate little puri shells, crispy vehicles for fresh and delicate fillings of chickpea and potato are something I normally order. Also good was the vibrant tandoori salmon marinated in beetroot and spiced yogurt and the perfectly spicy momo chicken dumplings.

Any one of their tandoori grills are death row meal worthy, so carnivores need to tick that one off their list. The Sigri charcoal roasted lamb shank, Barbecued raan style is a show stopper and exactly the sort of thing I like to eat here. Great big hunks of meat with multi-layered spicing, served with a smoked aubergine crush and a butter naan to polish it all up with. It feels overwhelming in size, yet little ol' me manages to polish off the platter - it's just too good to give up on.

The tandoori sea bream is also worth the order and something I've had a number of times in various guises. This is still a hearty dish, the spicing very much present yet delicate and brilliant alternative to a meat dish with just as much flavour.

Funnily enough, this visit presented the first dish in a decade I wasn't so in love with. It was possibly due to being faced with so much food your palate becomes complacent. Idli are steamed rice and curry leaf dumplings, commonly served as breakfast in Southern India and you dip them into lentil sambar, chutney and pickles, so I understand they act as a bland vehicle to the flavours they are served with, but it's not a dish for me.

Regardless of what you order though, all of their dishes are an education in the vast array of chutneys, riatas, pickles that makes Indian food such a joy to eat. I could eat their lime pickle for decades to come.

I can't believe I've never dived into their cocktail menu here; the chilli and mango margarita had the perfect kick of heat to it and the rest of the menu offered a little Indian twist on well known classics. You'd normally go for one of the beers with the food, but I'm sold on this new curry and cocktail concept, albeit a slightly dangerous one.

And on the subject of cocktails, if like me you are typically not a fan of teeth chatteringly sweet Indian desserts, they also have after dinner drinks as an alternative. Saying that, it seems they have tailored the Indian sweet selection here to Western tastes and I enjoyed most of the selection this time. Guiab Jamen; milk solid dumplings soaked in syrup, I do like (even from my very first visit) along with the peanut jaggery toffee. Turkish Delight and white chocolate raspberry truffles are probably less authentic, but for me, a more welcome sweet note to end the meal than the traditional.

So yes, things have been tweaked but as before, you're hard pushed not to enjoy your meal here. If you like food and you live in or have visited Brighton, I'm sure you've already eaten here (if not you're either crazy or living under a rock). We've seen a lot of change in the local dining scene, with more choice than ever, but there's no denying that The Chilli Pickle remains one of our, and certainly my, best loved Brighton restaurants.

The Chilli Pickle
17 Jubilee Street

I dined as a guest of The Chilli Pickle. Words and thoughts, as ever, are my own. 

NEWS: Brighton's Best Restaurant Awards 2018

Monday saw the announcement of Brighton's Best Restaurant Awards winners, delivered, as we now expect, in a multi-media mash up of scandalous photos and questionably edited video footage. Half of Brighton's dining scene was insulted (in good jest) by circa 10 minutes into the event and Jeezzz, who knew host and co-founder of the awards Euan MacDonald could hold a tune like that. What an opening. If the 2019 awards format isn't an entire musical, in costume, I for one will be sorely disappointed.

The awards are voted for by almost 200 local "experts including food writers, chefs, restaurateurs and business leaders, all of whom boast an intimate knowledge of the city's restaurant landscape." This is reflected in a fresh list, which included many of the fantastic 2017 new openings that have seen the national critics sit up and take note of our little seaside city. 

The evening feels like a genuine celebration of Brighton's frankly awesome restaurants and the people behind them. Each year the bar is getting raised that little bit higher - when I started the blog back in '08 (it's ok I won't start going on about 'nam) there were a handful of good restaurants, certainly not enough to fill a top 20 list. A decade later you're hard pushed to make a decision on where to eat there's so much great choice and variety.

What I also love about the awards is that it doesn't matter the style, cost or position of the restaurant. As shown by the top two spots; in second place is the phenomenal Bincho Yakitori, a Japanese Grill in Preston Street with prices starting from a couple of pounds a dish to number one spot (and I'm BEYOND pleased it got it), Little Fish Market. The cheers from the crowd when that was announced showed the support and camaraderie within the local industry, which was warming. That and most people were very drunk by then.

Here's the list to work your way through this year...forks at the ready. Link to recent reviews form me below. A few I have revisited off-duty and need to write up and the others are high on my to-eat list. Hard life!

Brighton's Best Restaurant Award winners 2018:
  1. The Little Fish Market - GF review
  2. Bincho Yakitori  - GF review
  3. 64 Degrees 
  4. Cin Cin - GF review
  5. The Set 
  6. The Chilli Pickle - Review coming soon!
  7. Etch - GF review
  8. Pascere - Review coming soon!
  9. The Salt Room - GF review
  10. The Ginger Pig 
  11. Silo 
  12. Isaac At - GF review
  13. Plateau 
  14. Red Roaster/Pike & Pine - GF review
  15. Fatto a Mano - GF review
  16. 1909 
  17. Fourth & Church 
  18. Murmur 
  19. Petit Pois 
  20. The Gingerman 
Category winners:
  • Outstanding Contribution: Ben and Pamela McKellar, Ginger Restaurants 
  • Best Chef: Duncan Ray, The Little Fish Markert 
  • Best Barkeep: Jake Goldstein, Plotting Parlour 
  • Best Welcome: David Toscano, Cin Cin
  • Best Wine List: Pascere 
  • Best Sunday Lunch: Dizzy Gull at the Brighton Beer Dispensary 
  • Rising Star: The Ginger Pig 
  • Best OctoberBEST Dish: "Al and D's Toddy Shop" The Chilli Pickle