RECIPE: Cherry and Almond Polenta cake

Looking back at my posts, it seems I haven't posted a recipe since 3rd March which makes this a pretty crap food blog, no? Anyways, let's get back in the driving seat with this cherry and almond polenta cake with a lemon syrup drizzle I've been tinkering with. I made this for my dad's birthday, and whenever I make someone a birthday cake, I try and incorporate some of their favourite ingredients into it.

Dad loves cherries, eyeing up my cherry tree in the back garden on his visits, ensuring I'm taking good care of it, thus reaping him punnets of plump fruits. Unfortunately, and despite not yet being ripe, the flipping seagulls have already started to eat the swelling fruit, perversely leaving me the piles of cherry pips just to rub it into my face further. Arses.

Although it doesn't have the springiness of a flour based cake, what I love about polenta cake is that it holds such moisture, and remains beautifully crumbly. It is very suitable as a dessert so a nice scoop of real vanilla ice cream or a dollop of sweetened marscapone would be a divine partnership.

I love the cherries that are pushed into the top of this cake, taking on a gorgeous jammy consistency. The syrup is a must, bringing a sour, sticky kick to it.

200g Room temperature unsalted butter
200g Caster sugar
200g Ground almonds
100g Polenta
3 Medium eggs
Half a lemon
300g Ripe cherries, pitted
20g Flaked almonds
1 tsp Baking powder

50g Caster sugar (for the syrup)
1 Lemon

Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a round spring form or loose bottomed cake tin, about 9 inches in diameter.

Beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy in a large mixing bowl. Add in the eggs one by one, beating in well.

Fold in the polenta, ground almonds, baking powder, zest and juice of half a lemon, combining it well.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and place the cherries top of the mixture, gently pressing them in. Add the flaked almonds.

Bake for 50mins - 1 hour, checking a skewer comes out clean. If not, pop back into the oven, covering the top with tin foil so the almonds don't burn. It should be golden and firm to the touch.

Whilst the cake is still in the oven, put the rind and juice of one lemon with the caster sugar and a tablespoon of water in a small saucepan and gently heat until the sugar completely dissolves.

Remove the cake from the oven, and pour over the syrup immediately.

Allow the cake to cook completely before removing it from the tin and serve as it is or with some ice cream or sweetened marscapone.

Bar du Chocolate, Brighton

Bar du Chocolate is a reminder that there is absolutely no need to resort to chain coffee shops. For one, you are unlikely to come across voluptuous nude murals in your typical identikit plastic coffee shop. Neither will you experience so much fun and tounge-in-cheek decadence.

Bar du Chocolate is a small chocolate bar owned by the Choccywoccydoodah team selling cakes, milkshakes, truffles, their infamous Belgian hot chocolate, oh and coffee, yes see... no need for the identikits. Worth a go is their dipping pots. Why? A picture tells a thousand words:

That is is a fondue that I would do. I took some girlfriends here for a treat recently and was frankly amazed by how much chocolate they got through.

There is also a little room with red velour sofas that can be hired out for £200 and they will put on an all-you-can-eat-spread of treats. Great for birthdays or a fun hen party.

And if you want even more chocolate, the Choccywoccydoodah shop is just round the corner in Duke Street, which really is a sight to behold with their zany creations.

Savoury menu also available.

Bar du Chocolat
27 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL

REVIEW and REVISIT: The Chilli Pickle, Brighton

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

When anyone asks me for a Brighton restaurant tip, I always suggest the Chilli Pickle. Of all the recommendations I've made for places to eat in Brighton, people seem to get back to me and tell me what a great meal they've had here. Some have even Twittered me from the restaurant itself!

Its taken me a while to go back, a couple of times I just couldn't get in as they were fully booked. This has become a really popular Brighton restaurant, offering authentic Indian food served with a keen eye for detail. They absolutely stunned me with my first meal there and I had very high hopes for my return.

As it was Mr. Graphic Foodies birthday, I was going to treat him (read me) to a total blowout feast. But as he chewed on a few little Whitebaits, seasoned in spiced flour, his expression was quite serious. He didn't make the usual "mmmmm" sounds that he does when he is enjoying his food. He stopped eating and put both hands down on the table and looked straight ahead. I was worried that this was going to be the start of a duff meal. When I finally coaxed a response out of him he eventually said "This is the best whitebait I have eaten in my life". You see he is quite serious about these little fish and I'm sure he wanted to rifle through his entire collection of whitebait memories (yeah, he's a bit odd) before making the claim. Phew, now all that was left was the chilli to make me sweat.

My starter of Kabali Chana Chickpea fritters with Green Chilli, Ginger, Coriander, Garam Masala and Beetroot, served with Saffron Riata were simple, soft and spicy A pleasant kick to get the stomach in action.

Also worth mentioning are the Chilli Pickle's poppadoms that we munched on whilst browsing the menu. With a choice of fried or roasted (or both) these were much lighter and more delicate you would typically be served down your local Indian restaurant. Served with three of their delicious homemade pickles and chutneys in varying heats and well worth a try.

For mains, I chose the Chettinad Duck Legs in a warm spiced black pepper gravy with steamed rice and pickled onion salad £13.95. A bit pesky to eat, chasing the bones around the bowl but worth the reward of soft meat and the firey gravy. I really did enjoy this, the levels of flavour they manage to get into their food here beyond the heat is down to highly attentive cooking and the thing that sets them apart by a long shot from other Indian restaurants in the city.

Mr. GF enjoyed the Chilli Pickle's signature dish of Oxtail Madras so much last time that he couldn't be swayed from choosing it again. The beef is local and gently braised in a spiced (4 chilli rating) gravy served with cumin pilau and spring onion riata. As before it was enjoyed, although the oxtail was meatier and more tender on our first visit but rich, intense and flavorsome none the less.

Ordering desserts at this point would have been insane as we were fit to burst so a little break with some Peppermint Jing tea was in order.

The staff, of which there seemed to be a lot more of on this visit, were knowledgable and explained each element of the dish in detail as they served it to you. And I like it when a waiter actually suggests a dish to you and you can tell it's not just because they are trying to shift it in the kitchen. I really liked the dessert of coconut soup with nuts and cocnut ice cream served with a little coconut pastry that was suggested to me as an alternative to the my usual Gulab Jamun dumplings. It was quite unusual but really interesting and worth a try. I loved the softened nuts in the coconut soup. I didn't get a chance to see if the dumplings soaked in syrup were as good as before as Mr. GF hoovered them up but it was a bit annoying tht the cardamon ice cream had been replaced with vanilla without mentioning. I only noticed as it was particualrly good before.

Drinks were chosen from the extensive beer list, featuring some wonderful micro-breweries. We opted for an enomous bottle of Meantime India Pale Ale.

Dinner came to £70 with all the bells and whistles but with starters at £4-7 and mains £9-15 this is exceptional value for the quality of food.

I still have to try the daytime Indian street food menu which I have heared good things about, or even go for an afternoon tea with a twist.

The Chilli Pickle is becoming one of the best restaurants in Brighton, if it isn't already.

The Chilli Pickle
42 Meeting House Lane
Brighton House

REVIEW: Pho Vietnamese restaurant, Brighton

Straight off I need to say that Pho is not a chain restaurant per se. Its modern design and strong branding may look like it and, as us Brightonians are not used to seeing chain restaurants (although getting more common), it's only natural to compare it with the closest visual thing we have in town which is Wagamamas.

Pho, however, is actually a family run business, born out of a passion for travel and Vietnamese street food. And, as food and passion go naturally hand in hand for me, I was very excited to see if the heart behind the idea extended to the food itself.

It was good to meet owner Stephen Wall, who along with his wife Juliette opened the first Pho in Clerkenwell in 2005 (the latest Pho in Brighton brings them up to 4 locations). He talked me through the menu (39 dishes, roughly based on 5 or 6 core recipes) and the reasons why and how Pho came about. Really nice chap. Not afraid to roll his sleeves up and serve on the floor with his staff and chat to the ever increasing number of customers coming through the door. He believes Pho "needs to educate people about Vietnamese food" and introduce us to the fresh, clean flavours of the country. Not knowing much at all, I was happy to be a student.

Let's get straight down to the food because I ate a lot of it!

Stephen strongly recommended the Nem Nuong, grilled pork and lemongrass meatballs (£4.50). Worthy of their recommendation, these really were divine. I loved the lettuce and mint leaves supplied with them, which you wrap around the meatballs, dunk into a light dipping sauce and relish with glee. The dryish texture and pout from the lemongrass was really good.

The Goi Cuon Tom, fresh summer rolls with prawns (£3.75), were served with a peanut and chilli dipping sauce and a fish sauce. To be honest you either love or hate the spongy texture of the rice paper. I like the chewiness but Mr. GF was not so keen. Very tasty and a nice light option for the summer. Team this with the Goi Xoai salad further below and you will never look at a chain cafe sandwich again for lunch.

The Cha Gio fried pork spring rolls £3.95 were great. They looked really appetising, had nice texture and were very moorish.

Although technically not a starter, I wanted to try the Goi Xoai, a spicy shredded green mango salad served with crumbled pork, dried shrimp and peanuts (£4.50). And it really was a star, rammed with lovely fresh flavours, crunchy textures, zingy lime and mint. Grotesquely healthy and vibrant. (I have since been back 3 times for this one salad - no lie.)

All of the above was enough to feed a normal couple happily. However, us being us we couldn't miss out on the mains.

The Bun noodle dishes are a nice option for a summer evening. Mr GF went for the Bun Cha Gio Tom with tiger prawns (£7.95). When the bowl arrives it's like peering into a gift box. Lots and lots of nice things to discover. The fat tiger prawns were nestled in with vermicelli rice noodles, stir fried bean sprouts, fresh herbs, salad, a fried spring roll and crunchy peanut topping. It is served with nuoc cham sauce in either spicy or regular which you tip over the whole dish and mix together. Lovely.

But I really think if you go to Pho you need to order Pho, the whole inspiration for the restaurant and Vietnam's national dish, eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Looking at the size of the arriving bowl it could singularly cover all these meals in one sitting. It was the size of my head! I spied the gigantic stock pot earlier on, which I could have easily fitted into, and Pho is all about the stock, taking around 12 hours to prepare.

There are 15 different Pho soups with different ingredients and different stock bases. I went for the Bun Bo Hue, a hot and spicy brisket beef soup (£7.75). I loved the accompanying plate of goodies including lime, fresh chilli, a potent shrimp, garlic and chilli paste, beansprouts, coriander and mint. This is the beauty of most dishes at Pho. You create your own dish to taste. You can add condiments, herbs and heat to suit your own palette or mood. Great for engaging with an unknown cuisine and to keep the dishes fresh for future visits, as you can tweak the flavours round. The beef stock itself is liquid gold, rich, multi-layered flavours, wholesome and comforting. The brisket was incredibly tender having also been cooked with the stock for 12 hours. The pho noodles (you could try the thinner vermicelli noodles here too) were quite unwieldy with chopsticks at first, but once you worked at it and reduced them to a more manageable amount it was a thoroughly enjoyable dish to eat. I can't wait to go back and try some of the other versions.

Worth mentioning is the nice selection of Vietnamese beers on the menu and we started off with a thirst quenching Halida from northern Vietnam moving on to Beer Lao, which was for more interesting and unique.

Bulging tummies (why the hell did I wear my spray-on skinny jeans tonight?!) were calmed with some Vietnamese coffee, served with condensed milk. Unfortunately their order of weasel coffee, which is eaten, digested and er, passed by the animal, had not come in yet (possibly due to constipated weasels) but well worth a try if you go.

Now for the design bit, concentrate! This is a well designed space which has gets the atmosphere bang on. Raw scaffolding planks hang on the ceiling with modern bare-bulb lighting. I like the choice of seating; in a booth, in an intimate spot on the side on high tables, on a communal bench table, in the back on standard table and chairs, on the bar overlooking the open kitchen or outside. Perfect for a quiet meal for two, a crowd of friends or a solo lunch with the kitchen for company. The twig panelling nods towards Vietnamese interiors, but Pho does not pander to creating a Micky Mouse Vietnamese themed restaurant. I really liked it.

The friendliness of the staff is also worth mentioning. A lot of the dishes need some explaining as to how to eat or assemble them, so their advice was appreciated.

Pho also offer take-away which is ideal for fleeting work lunches al-desko or perfect for grabbing and taking the short hop and skip down to the beach for a healthy alternative to a chip supper.

I visited on an early Wednesday evening and the place was surprisingly heaving, people waiting at the door. Hype? Word of mouth (worth its salt in this city)? Intrigue? Whatever. Pho is a welcome and very affordable addition to the Brighton dining scene. Pho is a must-go.

12 Black Lion Street

I was invited to review Pho as a guest.

Hove Champagne Festival 2010

The Hove Champagne Festival could not have picked a better weekend to take place. As I popped along after a long week at work, perched myself on a table overlooking the sea, sun shining, with a glass of Roger Coulon Rosé in hand, I thought life was not so bad after all.

The vast seating area was surrounded by champagne stalls, where you could claim your allocated tasters given with your ticket or purchase by the glass or bottle. Joining them was also an array of other stalls, selling anything from pearls to Polish art, which I found a bit odd really but a good opportunity for vendors to capitalise on half-cut people purchasing on a whim!

The two impressive triangular tents in the centre housed the grills for two successful Brighton restaurants, Sam’s of Brighton and Riddle and Finns, where you could buy plates for around £4-6, which was blinding value for money. However, seafood really seemed to be the order of the day at the busy Riddle and Finns tent. Being a (beautifully designed) champagne and oyster bar anyway, they seemed right at home creating a menu to suit. It was also nice to see them creating two champagne based desserts too, just incase you weren’t drinking your fill.

Knowing absolutely zilch about champagne, apart from the myth that the champagne coupe is apparently moulded on the shape of Marie Antoinette's breast, I found the tasting theatre really informative and enjoyable. I selected the session with Alex Murray, manager of Waitrose Wine Direct, who guided us through 3 champagnes versus 3 sparking wines.

He threw in quite a few tips along the way, for instance the smaller the bubbles, the better the quality, aroma and flavour of champagne due to the refermentation stage and that flutes are better for drinking champers rather than my beloved vintage coupes due to surface area and therefore bubble retention (don’t care, I drink it quick anyway). Also the colour of the champagne is linked to the length of the pressing, the faster the press the lighter the colour. A slower press will result in the infusion of colour from the skins, giving it a deeper biscuity colour.

First up was a Waitrose bestseller, SanLeo Prosecco Brut NV from the Friuli region for a mere £5.99. This is the prosecco served in Harry’s Bar for their famous bellinis, just with a different label, obviously. This was light, fresh and really excellent value for money. However, despite being Italian, I preferred the "real" champagne we were tasting it alongside! This was a Waitrose Brut Non Vintage Champagne, £20 which is made up from grapes from 30 villages. Made by Piper & Charles Heidsieck for Waitrose, it would be a good choice for a celebration party that won't break the bank.

Next up was Freixenet Elyssia Gran Brut Cava NV £15, who's second fermentation occurs within the bottle, just like a Champagne. Elyssia is actually Latin for "heavenly bliss" but I wouldn’t go as far as that, preferring the gorgeous Waitrose Blanc de Blancs NV £22. This is 100% Chardonnay beauty. Totally delicious and creamy, I would happily forgo dessert and have a glass of this after dinner. My favourite of the day.

We ended on an English sparkling wine, Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2002. Nice as this was local from down the road in West Sussex using grapes from 14 year old vines and aged for 5 years in the bottle. It’s won tons of awards, so many my pen couldn’t write them all down quick enough. However, I did prefer the Waitrose Flave Curvée 2002 which is also a 100% Chardonay Blanc de Blancs. This was only aged for 3 years, but was far more fragrant.

The session was a bit irritating in parts, straining to hear poor Alex over the chatter and giggles from the scores of perma-tanned blonds (weirdly dressed for the races with big hats) who were more interested in getting pissed than learning anything, but on the other hand they were there to enjoy champagne, it was a festival after all, and beats an event surrounded by a load of pretentious wine bores. I’ll raise a glass to wine education and enjoyment being for open everyone without any snottiness, just like, shut up when someone's trying to talk.

Anyway, back at the festival, apart from my rather nice glass of Roger Coulon Rosé, where the skins of the black grapes are added after to infuse the white, I also tried the house champagne at Hotel Du Vin which I would have liked to tell you more about it other than it was “light, fresh and different” as the very French chap repeated to me over and over again until I gave up bothering him and went away. I also had a glass of Black Label Brut NV from the Lanson stall, which reminded me what type of champagne I had been drinking in the past to think I didn't enjoy it at all.

So there we go. Don’t say I don’t do my research (hic). My tip off would be the Waitrose Blanc de Blancs from what I tried, but there were hundreds more to sample.

Looking forward to next year!

First shoot

So I art directed my first food photo shoot the other day. Although having done a few corporate shoots and music bands, this was a shoot I was really looking forward to. As well as photographing a product I designed, which will be in Waitrose soon (and I can't tell you what it is hence the pixelation), I also did some food styling shoots for recipes. It was great seeing a photographer with food experience at work. Top tip? Paint a solution of Bisto on meat to look more yummy!

As you can tell from my blog I'm not one for overly manicured food shots. I spend my whole day tweaking and perfecting design work so I am happy to just snap my dinner in the evening (and it ain't going cold for no-one!). But it was good to shoot food with a different mindset. Oh, and I did a bit of the cooking for the shoot too - couldn't resist!


The weeks are flying by. Can you believe it's mid-June?

Monday we had a house favourite - the chicken "parmo". Served with thinly sliced, roasted potatoes with rosemary and a salad for a summer feel.

Getting my share of the seasonal asparagus at the moment. This time it appeared in a light linguini dish with some pan fried salmon. Easy, quick and only dirtying 2 pots (chuck the asparagus into the pot with pasta for the last few minutes).

Thursday, Mr. Graphic Foodie cooked another favourite, lemon cod with spiced chickpeas and spinach. It tasted much better than when I cook it which annoyed me a bit to be honest!

With that Friday feeling making me wild and crazy, I decided to venture off piste from the chalkboard and change the polenta to couscous. I love this Belazu barley version, which is always light as a feather. The ratatouille is an evolved version of a Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall recipe which uses every single pot in the house. Worth it though. Just.

Went to the newly opened Ginger Dog on Saturday with Essexeating and Pearcafe. Review here.

Sunday was my mum's birthday and I cooked ricotta gnocchi, a chicken marsala stew and her favourite dessert - profiteroles. I was so impressed with them I shall pop up the recipe soon.

Have a happy eating week!

REVIEW: Pizzaface, Brighton

I walk past the relatively new Pizzaface most days, admiring it for looking so different to most other plastic-fronted take-aways in Brighton. It's particularly successful in the design stakes, which of course would appeal to me. Even more tempting however, is the menu. After a peek at their website months ago, I have been itching to try The Bore (pork and boar salami with sliced red onion and mushrooms, £8) and the Pecora (lamb prosciutto and sautéed mushrooms, also £8).

I'm always a bit anxious about ordering take-away on the phone, not because I'm worried that the food will be bad, it's just that I've ordered it probably 3 times in my whole life. The idea of calling someone up for food who then brings it to your front door, while you have a clear view of your own kitchen seems absolutely bonkers to me! But after a few late nights back from work I could see the appeal.

Well they certainly looked good on arrival. First up was the Pecora (above). I have never tried lamb prosciutto, or even heard of it for that matter. Prosciutto to me is pig at it's best - I adore it so was keen to try this unusual lamb version. This was far, far stronger in taste than pig, quite pungent, oddly grey in colour but delicious with it. I could understand why the other topping had been kept to a minimum to let the personality of this prosciutto shine through.

However, we must get back to base-ics. The base of the pizza is king, get that wrong and you may as well forget it. Pizzaface's bases are paper thin, more so than they seem in the pictures. They are probably the thinnest I have come across, and whilst I don't want to chomp down of a deep-dish, I do want to actually eat something. But the real problem was that there was no lightness to the base, instead being tough, chewy, flat as a pancake and close textured. Aside from the air not being there, taste was also lacking. The bases here really do need quite a bit of work really, with both the recipe and cooking techniques addressed.

Sauce-wise, the amount was good although a teensy bit too much basil which is a common problem. Not anywhere near as bad as the time I was subjected to a very unfortunate pizza in Strada (don't ask), where the amount of basil in the sauce was like licking the neck of a heavily cologned gigolo. Not a good memory but a very vivid one.

Anyway, back to Pizzaface and The Bore (above). Much like the Pecora, the topping quality was first class. The boar salami had that dense flavour synonymous with boar and with the sharpness of the red onion and having the chunky mushrooms packed with flavour through pre-sautéeing made for my kind of pizza topping. If I could scrape these toppings off, onto say a base from Adagio, I would be in sheer heaven.

The choice of toppings at Pizzaface have been extremely well considered in balance and originality, not pandering to any odd choices like fruit, or as I saw on one website this week, fish fingers. So I could happy eat 95% of them here. But the foundation of what makes a really great pizza is lacking, which is a real shame and a total missed opportunity for what could possibly be the best take-away pizza in Brighton.

35 St George's Road, Kemptown
Brighton Bn2 1ED
01273 699082

...and in the Times!

UPDATE: Managed to get a copy, here it is in full (click on image to enlarge). Best bit is that I'm under a feature for Tortas de Aceite, which are amazing Spanish cakes. I only recently discovered these moorish crispy flat cakes made with olive oil, sprinkled with sugar and flavoured with aniseed in Bill's. Worth a try if you can find them. I may celebrate by treating myself to a pack today!

Just got an email from someone to say I'm in the Times too! I was at a photoshoot all day so didn't check my emails until very late, thus unable to get a copy. So if anyone has the food supplement from The Times on June 3rd, please get in contact. It's a good week for press!

Oooh, I'm in Olive Magazine!

Featuring a rather lovely looking Neapolitan semi freddo on the cover, July's Olive Magazine also features little ol' me as Blog of the Month. All 18 lines of it make me feel very warm and fuzzy inside. Shame they used the Fiona Cairns post as the picture, probably one of my least favourite books I've featured, but I can get over that!

REVIEW: The Ginger Dog, Brighton

The Gingerman group of restaurants around Brighton are very well revered and with such a successful business blueprint, it should be difficult for them to fail in any new ventures. The newly opened Ginger Dog is the latest furry addition to their collection of gastropubs, joining the popular Ginger Pig and Ginger Fox, alongside the original Gingerman restaurant.

So I was really looking forward to visiting, and myself and Mr. Graphic Foodie were joined by fellow Gingergroup appreciator Essexeating and the lovely Elly Pearcafe.

The small interior is nicely eclectic. I liked the seating booths (although it required a full on shimmy to get in, and I'm practically a borderline dwarf), the Jeeves & Wooster pendant hat lights over the bar were a nice touch and the Dogs and Bitches loo signs gave me a chuckle. I was surprised to see the finish a bit rough and ready in the loos, which had the old dodgy tiles sloppily painted over and the existing chipped melamine left untouched. The finishing standards were way off from their other establishments and I'm sure I'm not the only person that will notice this. But most importantly, I was hoping these cut corners would not be evident in the food itself.

The menu is a nice length with an accompanying specials board. I went for the Sussex Coast Smoked Salmon with Blinis and Gin Créme Fraiche. I winced as the salmon arrived in a great big slab, making the plate more suited to a lunch than a starter. It was good, but not the greatest texture when you are mauling huge hunks of cured fish. I couldn't detect the gin in the créme fraiche and I really needed the another blini (as suggested in the menu description) or twelve to finish the salmon.

The boys' Potted Rabbit looked pretty but this was not set at all, the meat swishing around the unset jelly in the fridge-cold ramekin. The Hot Mustard Piccalilli, however, was great. But what's not to like about like pickles?

For mains I chose the comfortably conventional lamb rack. I particularly liked the garlic purée and the anchovy dauphinoise which accompanied the dish. Saying that, I did think the meat could have had a lot more flavour, towards the end of the dish I realised I was just going through the motions with it, and with the quality of the meat in mind (from Redlands Farm in West Sussex), it should have been made the star of the show.

Mr. GF's Ham Hock, Trotter and Potato Pie sure looked and sounded the part. But again it was only ok, the first couple of mouthfuls being quite gristly were a little off-putting. With the listed ingredients, it should have been a real man's pie, packed with moorish flavour, but instead it was a bit, well, wimpy.

Essex Eating's main of Parmesan and Truffle Arancini was the most interesting, coming with a Goat Cheese Fondue and Caponata. I did think the arancini was a bit on gluey side, particularly when I had an excellent example at their Ginger Pig pub. The fondue was tasty and worked really well with the dish. Elly chose the best with the Grilled Rye Bay Plaice with teeny, tiny little brown shrimp.

Feeling a bit deflated at this point, I had to have dessert just to pick me up. The Iced Vanilla Parfait with Poached Rhubarb and Honeycomb sounded like it would do the trick. This was a nice little pudding but any niceness was overshadowed by the unmistakably burnt honeycomb and slightly bland, undercooked rhubarb. I would have liked more vanilla in the parfait and less of an icy crunch. My heart sank a little deeper. The sample of treacle tart I had from Mr. GF's plate was rather delicious though.

So there we have it. Was I expecting too much? Would I have been as disappointed or as critical had this not been part of the Gingerman empire? Possibly a little, but at the end of the day, mistakes are mistakes, and I would have noticed unset jelly, burnt honeycomb and general meh-ness anywhere.

Service was friendly enough but bumbled. We were asked the same questions throughout by different waitresses. There seemed to be no communication on the floor.

A real shame. As these are still early days for this gastropub, I hope my experience was just the evidence of extended teething troubles soon to be ironed out. However with the amassing mixed reviews beginning to filter through they need to pull their socks up sharpish, or this latest venture will really be going to the dogs.

The Ginger Dog
12-13 College Place, Kemptown,
Brighton BN2 1HN
01273 620990