REVIEW: Franco's Osteria, Brighton & Hove


Ah, Franco's...that intimate and romantic little Italian you've been meaning to try for ages, but it's that bit of Hove that escapes your mind post 7pm. And I'm the same. I can't recall how many times I've banked that memo in my mind, probably from the days they still used to put the Italian Disney red and white checked tablecloths out. But when I speak to resident Hovites in the area, they are fierce in their protection of their 'hood restaurant. A good sign.

And it's a lovely place to come. Stripped back, simple, rustic, yet utterly laden in charm. The kitchen in full view from your table. Salami hang in the windows. I'm glad I'm finally here.

Format follows tradition here. Antipasti, Primi, Secondi and dessert. I felt very at home and could have been in any similar restaurant in Italy, the authenticity is refreshing. The owner is also very (like very - I was DMd about its importance) keen to let people know this is not a restaurant, but an "Osteria". So what the hell is that?

There’s a pecking order with eateries in Italy (we Italians love rules, man. That Catholic guilt runs deep). Restaurants are at the top; formal, larger menus, professional service and linens. Trattorias are small, often family-run and offer simple, home cooked food. An osteria is even more casual than a trattoria, they used to be more of a wine bar with a dish or two, but have evolved to be more in line with trattorias. And there’s more; tavola calda, rosticceria, taverna…get it? Frankly, I don’t really think people here care about that at all. A restaurant is a restaurant is a restaurant to most people's eyes, but for the nerds out there, you're welcome. 

You have the option of a la carte or the well priced sharing menu at £30.50 per person which I think reflected good value, even with its recent increase.


Antipasto lent on the gratuitous side as Italians like it. This part is a bit of a show off really, with the dishes arriving in stages. The cured meats were of great quality and surrounded with olives, cheeses, wonderful aged balsamic, cubes of home-made focaccia and fine little slices of tomato topped bruschetta. Then came buratta with pomegranate and beetroot, polpette (balls) of fennel sausage and aubergine in a fine deep-fried crumb with basil pesto and baked prawns with lemon and garlic. A feast to start a feast.


Primi, your pasta courses, come as a smaller portion as they should in this format. Tronchetti with a rich, deep ragu that had a hint of sweetness, maybe from a little nutmeg were delicious. The ravioli however were exceptional. Literally to-the-second perfection cooking on the pasta with an ideal thickness and texture. They were simply filled with vegetables and with a classic lemon, sage butter sauce. Had I a piece of bread I would have fa la scarpetta without hesitation.


The mixed roast meats for the secondo, were very typical and nice touch that the meat was sourced from the mighty Westdene Butchers. Between us there was a lamb chop, piece of steak and fennel-rich, course Italian sausage. All just simply grilled. The fish option was a large single fish I didn't make out, filleted at the table and looked equally as good.


For the sides, fried potatoes over fries would have been preferable to me, but grilled aubergine slices with pomegranate (nodding to a Sicilian influence in the kitchen I feel) made an ideal and interesting side.

Food-wise it can't be faulted. I love that the OSTERIA hasn't caved in to adapting the food, you certainly, and thankfully, would never find a spaghetti bolognese on the menu and dishes have not been tarted up or tweaked in any way.  No foams, smears, streaks or dots adorn the plates to confuse - just plain, old fashioned good cooking. 

Service was well-paced but could sharpen up. It was a bit young, bit absent minded in places yet friendly. The owner was away when I visited, thankfully it seems, as some messages I received alluded to a gruff and unwelcoming vibe on occasion. I looked up Trip Advisor and there seems to be a theme about this, the management replies on there only strengthening the claim. However it seems children are very welcome here, my kids would adore the food and I'd bring them in for lunch without hesitation. Family dining options that don't limit you to the chains get a big tick from me. 

Brighton is no longer a barren wasteland for Italian food. We were once left to fend for ourselves (well yourselves, I had my mamma's cooking) in the trenches of pizza pasta menus. Now there's a small celebration of good Italian food from some of our city's pizzarias, gelaterias, restaurants and of course, our only osteria.

Franco's Osteria
4 Victoria Terrace
Hove BN3 2WE

REVIEW: Amarillo (pop up) by Ian Swainson, Lost In The Lanes, Brighton


Opening a restaurant in Brighton isn't for the faint hearted and finding (and financing) permanent premises is a tough gig in these parts but not essential to making diners come to you. But the food industry can be resourceful little devils and many have started out by popping up restaurants in day-time eateries (I have high hopes for Tlaloc after my recent visit and remember the now two-site Cin Cin started out by selling antipasti out of a van).

They don't often all work though and sitting in a casual cafe in the evening can be a little awkward. Not here though as Lost in the Lanes is a cool little outfit; copper topped tables, bare plaster, naked Plumen bulbs all in a luxe, chic French farmhouse vibe. It almost lends itself to evenings more than day. And with With Ian Swainson's food on the tables, this certainly is a hot little ticket for date night. Swainson hails from The Pass (I've never forgotten that dessert and left my visit a fan of Ian's work) and led The Samling Hotel to a Michelin Star, so no surprise you'll find the refined touches and techniques of such a chef on the plates there.

However, Amarillo is intended to be far more stripped back and accessible to more; the menu is a sharing plate format, starting with pinchos and you'll find Spanish, Asian and even Italian influence throughout the dishes.



The Salmon pincho made for an incredibly strong start, the unctuous raw salmon belly with avocado was cut through with a hit of spice from sriracha. Toasts with serrano ham, topped with tomato, finely chopped egg white and a yolk emulsion, a refined version of a classic.



The menu is relatively short, two options each for fish, meat or vegetarian so allows you make a good dent across it, which I recommend you do. The bavette was knock-out in flavour, my favourite cut, with the deep, rich smoke of burnt onion sauce and balsamic. A simple side of tenderstem broccoli with the best béarnaise I've come across, the sweetness of the tarragon almost convincing me there was vanilla at play here too.



Of course if there's anything truffle on the menu it has to be mine; a perfectly made truffled scotch egg arancini perched on top of wild mushroom and a truffle cream sauce and the spinach, truffle and Parmesan salad engulfed the table with my favourite aroma. I'd have loved for the yolk of the arancini dish to have been more gratuitous and rich, and despite the smell, a harder hit of the truffle in that particular dish itself. That said, I would have happy eaten each dish again.



Both desserts are order worthy, the tiramisu particularly. Here deconstructed but so enjoyable with a light sponge, marscapone and a rich, salted chocolate mousse, the clever inclusion of an espresso granita just sexing up the whole damn thing.



If floral and delicate is more your dessert then the syrup-marinated peaches with lavender and Champagne is your ticket, with surprising little jellies and sticks of meringue to keep it fun.

Prices overall were, to me, incredibly reasonable for the quality of cooking at £50 or so for two excluding wine. Although we've generally seen the quality rise in our restaurants, prices have rocketed and a good meal is still not guaranteed. Last week a beyond mediocre meal would have left me £120 lighter. And I almost needed therapy after being served 7 anchovies from a tin with a drizzle of olive oil for £8 in a restaurant lately (it's going to take me years to get over that, YEARS). Anything goes here now the London money and the rising rates have blown our little seaside city into a new dimension, so when you see a chance for some great cooking at a reasonable price, snap it up.

Although Amarillo is box fresh, and in temporary environment, the intention for quality and detail has been strongly defined from the off, from the considered branding to the touches in the plating and settings, and of course the elegant food itself.

Amarillo is currently open Friday and Saturday evenings, with a view to extending to more evenings.


c/o Lost In The Lanes
10 Nile St, Brighton BN1 1HW
amarillobrighton@gmail.com
07307622076

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

REVIEW: Tlaloc Mexican Cuisine, Brighton


What’s in a name? For the absolute bejesus of me I couldn’t remember the name of this place that I’d fleeting seen on the feeds…finally some exciting, fresh and inspired Mexican food in Brighton…sign ME UP.  Yeah, sure Rosie (forever my dining partner of choice) I’ll book a table. Ok, so a pop up with no permanent address…Err…started with an "L" right? Lock, Lalock..no "T"...Tock, Twock, Taock...shout out to Instagram’s frankly useless search facility…rummaging in my followers list I finally found them - Tlaloc. 

But this really is a name that serious diners in Brighton should know; as an aside, I could launch into a good 2000 words on the importance of business naming but I’ll save that little rant to launch my upcoming branding blog that this little adventure has inspired. Cock-headed I listened to the reasoning behind this from one of the founders after my meal…ready? Tlaloc is the God of rain. It rains a lot in England, hence the name. Thank goodness I had a good couple of margaritas in me to switch me into full off duty mode or we would have had a situation on our hands with the full force of my expressive Italian hand gestures thrown in for good measure. Make it easy for people to find your business, folks.

Tlaloc has been at its temporary, evening home in Oseta Cafe on North Road for 10 months which is far longer than I thought having only recently come across it. There seems to have been just a small murmur of interest behind it, which is building up and I’ve seen more of the people that influence me sharing it. 


One of the highlight points seemed to be that they serve the best margarita in town and I can certainly vouch for that. The Hibiscus Margarita is an essential order; tart, zingy with a ferocious heat from the salt and chilli rim, softened with the sweetness from the fruitiness of the flower. But don’t stop there; there are plenty more to choose from on the menu and are perfect to knock back with the food. 

Oh and the food…there are three starters and I suggest you order them all. Sikil P’ak, a Mayan pumpkin seed dip makes for a great intro. Sweet, deep, smokey and ideal to get stuck in with the homemade tortillas. Aguachile of the day, Mexico’s answer to ceviche, was with prawns, perfectly prepared with delicate fine textures, heat, sweetness. The aerated citrus foam didn't bring much to the party and this isn’t a dish for everyone. Raw fish isn’t generally for me but Rosie, who eats it with the enthusiasm of a hungry seal, convinced me that if this is your thing, then you'll be wanting it sharpish. 


You are invited to suck the heads of the prawns in the Camarones con alioli negro dish, and had they not been overcooked would have rewarded in a bit of tasty gruesome that gourmands relish.  The saline squid ink alioli brought the drama, the ink adding richness to the dish.

Don’t skip the tacos that form a good chunk of the mains. Vegans are well catered for here and I was almost tempted away, but damn, the octopus taco. Visually beautiful, the tentacle wrapping round the taco like it was meant to be. “Al Pastor” should include pineapple which you wouldn’t notice but maybe it was there amongst the other, perfectly harmonious flavours. Wickedly hot, you will want to eat this. Just not in front of a first date. 


On a par with this was the quesadilla de birria; super succulent, melting, pulled goat with just so much smoke and a deep, deep gravy. The fresh, zesty flavours that contrast this, the essence of which makes Mexican food so invigorating, were there in spades along with the delicious squish and crunch of it all. 

Interestingly, you’ll find a slight refinement to the food which I imagine comes from the care and love of the people behind it. Luckily it is not distracting, other than the unnecessary foam that features here and there. This food really doesn't need these flourishes though, it can stand up without it. 

As I said, the set up is currently untraditional in a cafe by day, the loos through the kitchen into what seems like a long forgotten set for Rising Damp (so terribly Brighton) with faded floral wallpaper and yellowed paintwork that hasn't seen a paintbrush since 1972. But this is, by far, the most noteworthy Mexican food I have eaten in Brighton. If ever a place deserved a permanent home in this city this is it. I hope they succeed, and will be a name, even as difficult to pronounce and remember as it is, that will be on everyone's lips.

Meal for two with service and four cocktails £70.

Tlaloc
Facebook page
Currently at:
Oseta Cafe
34 North Road
Brighton

REVIEW: Easy Tiger, Brighton


Easy Tiger is one of Brighton's latest successful pub kitchen pop ups, and we have quite a few to choose from to be honest. I don't think any Brightonian will put up with your average pub grub any more; we're spoilt rotten and the only way is up - eradicating every frozen chicken goujon in the city by 2025.

Still, I have to say it does take a bit to drag me from the dining comfort of restaurants, old woman I am. But headed up by chef Kanthi Kiran Thamma this is one to take particular note of. Kanthi, formerly of Curry Leaf Cafe, is quite possibly one of the most passionate chefs for all things Indian you'll ever meet. The man practically levitates when talking his craft, even orchestrating his own chef-led food tour, The Spice Circuit.

The Hampton has had a full makeover from the same team behind the successful The Pond. A superb selection of small brewery beers, cool interiors, great design (the murals by See Creatures are ridiculously brilliant) and really good food. If you haven't had the bao buns at The Pond, where the hell have you been? Their eye for creating modern pubs for the modern market and demands, whilst retaining an authenticity of what the pub stands for is unparallelled. 

Easy Tiger food is inspired by street food and rustic dishes served in southern Indian Toddy Shops - bars selling fermented coconut palm sap and brutally hot food to encourage more drinking. But all we know is that spicy food and beer go hand in hand and the menu has been tailored for the pub environment very well. With no coconut palm sap on offer (actually I didn't check) a pint of local Burning Sky Arise did the trick nicely.



You could easily just upscale your pub snacks here with some marsala chips or Peanut Pakodi - fried peanuts in a spiced batter or there are some filled Ceylon parotta (an Indian style wrap) that would make an ideal lunch on the fly.



A toss up between the KFC (Keralan Fried Chicken) was the Tandoori Tangdi which didn't disappoint. Grilled pieces of tandoori spiced marinated chicken leg had a coating so crisp, that I'm surprised it wasn't fried. There was an optimum level of heat for the spice layers to come through which is the smart way to do spicy. This was excellent chicken to maybe rival Bincho Yakatori for the best in town.

Really enjoyable was the Gobi Manchurian, a dish of cauliflower pieces in a light batter, deep fried and slathered in a soy, ginger, garlic, and chilli sauce. If you thought cauliflower was boring, you haven't tried this.


Of the big dishes, a vegan Biriyani or Keralan vegetable stew are your bets, but for the meat eaters there's Jaffna Lamb Curry, inspired by Kanthi's trip to Sri Lanka. The Jaffna spice mix lends itself to rich, deep favours; coriander and cumin seeds form the base with sweet notes from cinnamon and cardamon, absolutely perfect with the slow-cooked lamb. You can order rice but this came with Malabar parathas, another Indian flat bread, pineapple chutney and a sour raita.



They don't over-look the details here. The pickles, chutneys and accompaniments really make the dishes, not least when ordering poppadoms - worth ordering for the mango and coriander and pea, mint and coconut chutneys alone.

The food was unquestionably good, my only negative was that foods were served on environmentally friendly plates and bowls made from some sort of plant or leaf. Pretty and far from the common paper plate, but they started to go soggy toward the end of the meal. Also, is there anything more environmentally friendly than washing up the damn plate? 

Still, the menu offers so much more that I want to try and if you're bored of the traditional pub Sunday roast, then this is just the ticket.



Easy Tiger Brighton
Easy Tiger at The Hampton
57 Upper North Street
Brighton BN1 3FH

REVIEW: Purezza Pizzeria, Brighton


What’s good about pizza? Ooozing creamy buffalo mozzarella, affettati like salami, prosciutto and everyone’s favourite sausage du jour n’duja…but Purezza offer none of that, being a 100% plant-based pizzeria, the first in the UK none the less.



For all the many, many pizzas I’ve eaten in my time, the menu here is unlike any other pizzeria I’ve been to. They even make their own cheese alternatives, headlined by the all important mozzarella. Their version is made, somehow, with Italian brown rice. I tried to read up about it, something to do with rice sprouts to make rice milk..micronutrients..animoacids…blah, blah, blah. But does it taste good? It actually takes ok. I wouldn’t want to eat a block of it but melted on the pizza it was just fine and I bet most people wouldn’t even notice the difference.

The bases, it has to be said, are phenomenal. Although you can go for a Sussex-grown hemp flour base (could this be any more Brighton) or gluten free, I stayed safe with the traditional wholegrain sourdough. Beautifully crafted, super light, fluffy and pillowy, the base really was one of the best I’ve had. The cornicione was enormous but fully cooked and airy, you would easily eat the lot and not feel over-full.

Topping choices have been well considered, the Margherita and Marinara the only instantly recognisable ones amid some really interesting ideas. A good mix of both white and red sauce bases are on offer and only half have alternative meats on them although they can be added as an option.



The Green Supreme that I finally chose is just a reinvention of a classic friarielli (broccoli/spinach hybrid) and spicy sausage pizza I know and love. This being vegan the sausage was some sort of alternative meat and truthfully, I did miss the texture and taste of the real deal a little, but the combination with the mozzarella and bagfuls of spice from the chillis it was a great eat.



The slice from the other side of the table, a Season 4 Pizza 1 with mozzarella, artichokes, kalamata olives, beautiful trumpet wild mushrooms and a smoked beetroot carpaccio was also delicious. Sweet, piquant and well balanced and actually, a picturesque pizza if I ever saw one.

Not all the toppings work, on a separate visit I tried the Telling Porkies with marinated pulled BBQ pieces which I found dessert-like sweet, and truffle head I am, had great expectations of the Here Comes Truffle. This was fine, if slightly too earthy and muddy, and the generous wild mushrooms on top actually made it a tad sloppy.

For all the grown up Dominos weirdos out there that like dips for their crust, there are plenty to choose from including some interesting options like banana ketchup. This was so bizarre I had to try it, definitely a Marmite-love-or-hate thing, it wasn’t for me with the sweetness, but my dining pal happily polished off the lot.

Again sides are not something I order with pizza but looking round the restaurant I know I’m outnumbered on this too with diners supplementing their carbs with carbs (I always empathise with the chef in the film Big Night on this) with pots of mac’n’cheese, dough balls or getting their greens in with a salad or courgetti dish. 

The wine list is ideal for pizza with a line up of the Italian classics but there are good fresh cold-pressed juices and soft drinks available. I also noticed diners knocking back cocktails with their pizza. Why the hell not, eh?



Desserts are a vegan and gluten-free choice dream, with Purezza’s take on tiramisu, Lemon cheesecake, gelato and even an Oreo pizza. The "tiramisu" was a slop of cashew cream and a single cheesecake style base that was lost on me - texturally and taste-wise. I am just not able to smash a dessert pizza after a pizza meal, so I found the oreo pizza stodgy and sickly - but give me a coffee and a slice of this mid-afternoon and I'm all in. However, the salted caramel brownie was rich and fudgy. A perfect semi-sweet note to end on.

Service was very good, fun and friendly. There naturally needs to be a bit more explaining with some of the foods served here and staff are well versed on the menu. You can’t book for two but I suggest putting your name down and heading over the road to La Mucca Nera gelateria for an aperitif.



The restaurant itself is now beautiful and on-brand. I remember when it opened with school-caff seating and scratchy plastic tables that didn’t get the ethos of the food across at all. Luckily that was skipped in favour of natural wood, warm lighting with a little industrial edge and the pizza oven in pride of place.

Worth noting is that kids eat free with each paying adult and I’ll definitely return with my pizza mad mini crew in tow.

I dined with my die-hard Vegan friend who raves about this restaurant and the fact that it is packed to the rafters on most days, lunch and dinner, is a clear sign they are doing it right. Whatever your diet, and this is a particularly good choice for those that are meat, dairy or gluten-free, there’s plenty to love about Purezza. 

Purezza
12 St James's Street
Brighton BN2 1RE 

also at 43 Parkway
Camden Town
London NW1 7PN

REVIEW: Lucky Khao, Brighton


Lucky Khao is the evening offering in the Instagram worthy Red Roaster cafe, having taken over from Pike and Pine. In place of edgy fine dining you'll now find more casual, vibrant Northern Thai Barbecue. Although, the concept does fit a little better with the eclectic location I expect it will still need to work hard to attract diners to that neck of the woods and appease the uncomfortable feeling of a day/night cafe/restaurant hybrid venue. The awkward, slightly wonky, bolted on neon signage to the front isn't the best first impression.

However, once inside, the beautifully designed menu (massive back pat for the person putting together the intricate dietary matrix on the back) makes for hard choosing to be honest; there sure is  plenty to crave on it.



Mike's Party Wings certainly brought it. Sticky, sweet, messy and succulent chicken wings that you have no option to get down and dirty with. The caramelised fish sauce coating really is the one.



The Som Tam salad is big slap across the head of heat and flavour and comes with a necessary menu and verbal warning. This is a classic Thai green papaya salad, refreshing, pungent, crunchy, sour, a little sweet but brutally hot. Occasionally this dish can arrive limp and soggy but not here. I loved this and it's a must order.



Another good one were the mussels in a deep, fragrant, warming coconut broth. Lemongrass, citrus, fresh herbs, garlic and kaffir zing out of the broth and the mussels were plump and luscious.

It was a shame the crab salad had lots of irritating bits of shell in. You had to crunch your way through the whole thing so you missed the textural benefit of any sweet, soft pieces of crab meat. Overall this lacked the punch and depth of the other dishes however the egg on top was a nice touch with a perfect yolk and fine crisp casing.



Slap bang in the middle of the menu, highlighted in red and just shy of £10, was the Northern Thai BBQ Chicken, dressed up to feel like the headline act. Sad to say it failed to excite, not having that deep smoke or tenderness I expected. And unless I had been desensitised by this point, the spicy jaew sauce could have had more pout. 

The Drunken Noodles sadly had to be returned, charred fresh fire noodles sound like the most exciting noodles on the planet but arrived woefully overcooked and claggy enough to sort out my dodgy garden walls with. Such a shame as the dish boasted the meatiest of prawns, chunks of shredded smoky pork and big, fat seared scallops. 

Talking of drunk, there is a good list of sharing cocktails pitchers to wash down the spice with. Having had a big evening the night before, the Thai Bloody Mary made me feel right as rain again but I wasn't in the capacity to make a decent dent in the rest. I'll leave the Khao San Bowl, that's a whole bowl of Jagermeister, to the rest of you to dive into. 

As you can see this is small plate sharing style - restaurant speak for "you're potentially going to rack up a massive bill". Diners are encouraged to select six dishes amongst two and although most of the menu is well priced, a few dishes are about £2-3 too keen in reality. £16 for three chops? I know goat is pricey but that's post Brexit level. However, they do offer a 33% discount on Friday and Saturday from 4pm - 7pm which makes for an exceptional deal.

The environment is as loud as the flavours here, if you want a quiet meal, this ain't it. Music is pumping to the point where even the waitress had to yell a bit, but it works with the youth vibe and the food. The neon signs, letterboard menus and head chef Luke Larsson's trademark green mohawk zipping across the open kitchen add the edge. And if you don't like racing spice or are due to be kissing someone new after, this isn't the restaurant for you either. But where we have more dining choice than ever in Brighton, I admire their effort to be putting out something different and there certainly is a place for it here.


Lucky Khao really does have the potential to be very good and the style of food on offer here is very appealing. The strong start shows the level of great cooking possible but such a shame the last few dishes let the meal down. Also, a few of the menu items are the wrong style to share, or awkward with the BBQ dishes, like the curries, so you probably need two visits to do it justice. Saying that, would I return for them? Probably.



https://luckykhao.com
Red Roaster
St James’s Street
Brighton

REVIEW: Gars, Brighton


Respect to the restaurants that weather the decades, rent rises and diner demands and fashions. Gars is one of the few still going strong after such a long stretch, opening in '83. In fact, I remember one of my very first dates there (shout out to Jim) where faced with a bowl of exotic-for-me-at-the-time lychees, I downed the lot, stone and all, to avoid admitting I had no idea what they were - eyeballs? Shows how far I'm willing to go to impress I suppose. Lucky for me, the spiky skins had been removed. As I said, it was a LONG time ago.

Gars is has some Asian fusion influence to the menu and has more Anglo appeal than some of the other Chinese restaurants in town, so depending on how gung ho you are with a menu, may be more to your taste. I'd like to think we are more adventurous as diners but am sad to hear it when great dishes like the incredible Iberia Pork Presa at Pabellón recently was removed as diners couldn't get their head around pork being served pink. Me? I'm happy to throw a dart at one and if it lands on the duck tongue dish, bring it on. Most of the dishes here though you'll be familiar with; chicken satay, Wonton soup, sizzling meat dishes and fried shredded beef.


Prawn toast an inch thick was the best I've had. Soft, squidgy and crisp at the same time and their enthusiasm for BIG didn't wane throughout the starters; the fleshy, meaty garlic prawns struggled to fit on the plate and the pork ribs in a sticky Peking-style bbq sauce were Flintstone-esque. Best of this good bunch was a soft shell crab in a light batter and enough firery pepper to wake you up from a minor coma. In a good way.


A self imposed rule I have is to never to order the same dish when dining out but it's virtually impossible not to order the aromatic duck pancakes isn't it? Shredded tender meat, rendered of all that natural fat to make it juicy still, cucumbers, thinly sliced spring onion and paper thin pancakes. I loved them when I tried them as a kid and I love them just as much now. Hang on, let's go back to that paragraph about being adventurous shall we?


The table was then laden with Kung Pao prawns, sizzling steak in a black pepper sauce, Singapore noodles (actually a Cantonese creation) and egg fried rice to fill your boots with. A mix of heat, sweet, saucy, rich and spice that is heavenly to gorge yourself on.

Gars is a very modern Chinese in presentation, all bright, glossy finishes in black and red and I think there's a karaoke bar in the basement for when you've made a good dent in the sake.

The day time and dim sum menu is something also worth looking up; the stuffed crab claws, asparagus hot pot, pork dumpling soup, and the fashionable bao buns will certainly have me returning. If you want to try some of the more unusual or regional traditional dishes from this cuisine, with parts of animals that make most Western palates quiver, then there are places that cater for this in town. But if you have a craving for accessible Chinese food and need to scratch that itch, you can't go far wrong here.

Gars
19 Prince Albert Street
Brighton

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