REVIEW: The Chilli Pickle, Brighton

by - March 02, 2009

Please note that The Chilli Pickle has now moved to 17 Jubilee Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1GE at Myhotel

Well folks, it is a rare day where I struggle to find anything to complain about or that niggles me when visiting a restaurant, be it the food or interior, but I think the day may have finally come.

The Chilli Pickle Indian bistro has not been long open and I have been hearing some very good things about it and for once, you should believe the hype.

The interior is a winner. They have recreated India with a Brighton twist which works a treat and is delightfully void of any moving waterfall pictures. The colours and textures have been inspired by the vibrant Indian street scenes, saris and street architecture. I love the teal and magenta scheme with a splash of orange here and there. Bright but tasteful... full marks so far.

For starters we ordered the Cauliflower & Chilli Pakora which were spicy and crispy and the Tandoor Spiced Quail, which was ordered because we saw it being served upon entering and looked great. It also had a good kick and was very succulent.

Mains were Fenugreek Chicken and an Oxtail Madras both of which were fab but the oxtail (winner of "can you handle the heat challenge 2008") had the edge. Why you don't find more oxtail on the menu in restaurants is beyond me especially when is it is cooked slowly as this madras was, making the meat knife-redundant tender. If I were a betting lass I would say that this may become the Chilli Pickle's signature dish if it isn't already. The gravy was rich and very spicy and the yoghurt accompaniment was very welcome but when I say spicy you could taste the depth of flavour over the heat and was not in any way akin to a tasteless volcanic geezer-vindaloo.

The sides on offer had me licking my lips, in particular the smoked aubergine crush and the curry leaf semolina, although all mains are served with sides which have been chosen perfectly to go with the specific meals.

Portions were perfect and dessert was not needed but that's never a good enough excuse not to order one, so we also had some curd dumplings soaked in maple syrup and served with cardamon ice cream. Holy-moly they were fantastic.

The beer menu here is super and you'll find some good IPA's, wheat and fruit beers from Belgian and British micro breweries. They also get their wine from the independent wine merchant, Festival Wines, who source wine from small producers worldwide which is a nice touch.

It is easy to see when the food and experience in a restaurant is served up with passion. Brightonian Alun Sperring has spent twenty-odd years travelling around the world gaining culinary inspiration before coming back and opening up the Chilli Pickle and I am jolly glad that he did. You can tell these guys are keen to make a really good first impression and they have made it for me.

Price-wise I think it was decent value for money and I'm definitely going back for seconds, possibly to sample the delights from their Indian street food day menu.

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