REVIEW: The Urchin pub, Brighton and Hove

by - May 25, 2018

The Urchin has been on my radar a while, with their unique shellfish based menu (for a pub around these parts) and a brilliant selection of craft beer. I've probably not yet been because there's enough to keep me busy east of Palmeira Square these days, I've got a lot on my plate, literally. However, I'm really interested in the alternative Sunday roast. As lovely as a classic roast is, we're seeing more options cropping up the city's pubs and the former isn't something I would dine out for, seeing is very much as a family meal at home. There are people doing the roast so well here, and there is of course a huge demand still, but variety is the spice and all.

The Urchin serve up an impressive looking paella on the Sunday and that's enough for me to foot the 3.5 mile walk in the sunshine to work an appetite up for.

It is particularly gorgeous for a pub. Muted greys and a contemporary nautical influence all around, it feels very much at home here by the sea and has a lovely garden area. You'll see the enormous selection of craft beer by the bar, thoughtfully placed where you can grab the bottles and have a good look before deciding.

For me my visit was the day after the one before so some bloody Marys were in order, swiftly followed by rock oysters and salt and pepper squid, cut on the long side. This gave great mouth feel (I still have not found a better way to describe that, it makes me cringe) rather than biting into rings. Regardless, the squid was tender and the coating perfectly crisp.

My wibbly scallops along with the coral, served simply with lemon and chives made them a masterpiece of themselves. Normally, I shy away from the coral, I actually don't like the gnarly end of seafood in general, but I ate the lot, cooked so the texture was perfect and the butter and citrus enhanced the clean sweetness of hero ingredient.

I also appreciated a decent portion of bread, from our wonderful Flour Pot Bakery, served in large wedges with either balsamic and oil or butter.

Onto the main show though, the paella, was a visual treat, uncovered at the table for a bit of theatre. Under the foil hid a colourful display of king prawns, mussels and cleverly, the tips of the squid, which looked lovely and a smart avoidance of food waste. The rice had the ideal bite and for me, the essential bit of a paella is the crisp edges, which luckily, this didn't lack. I would have like a little more piquant hit from smoked paprika and wedges of lemon to pep up the dish but minor points, it was still very enjoyable. The prawns were juicy and meaty; glorious to shell and get stuck in with. The sun was shining and this could not have been a more perfect dish for the day.

For desserts there is just a cheese board and a posset and they don't seem to "do" dessert here. No matter as this was one leg of a Hove food safari for me but you could end the meal with a dessert beer I'm sure they'd have like a rich, chocolatey porter.

Although, I'd come here specifically for the paella, the specials board read like a treat; langoustine ramen, goan style prawns, whole lobster and everyone around me seemed to be tucking into bowls of crab claw, prawn and chorizo gumbo eliciting a hard pang of food envy from me. Clearly I need to return to make a bigger dent in the menu.

The Urchin is a stylish pub but one with real substance in its catalogue of interesting beers and staying true to their vision with the food, rather than falling victim to the pub catch-all menu.

The Urchin
15-17 Belfast Street

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

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