REVISIT and REVIEW: The Ginger Pig, Hove

by - February 22, 2014

The Ginger Pig is a solid beast. It's one of those reliable restaurants for decent, quality food whose success speaks for itself.

On a cold, wet miserable Monday, where almost all of my other trusted restaurants have a Monday closure in the winter, I needed somewhere I could take a visiting friend who is used to good dining. 

Whereas some great restaurants start off so, gradually deteriorating into complacency and laziness, The Ginger Pig has got better and better. Looking back at my 2009 review, the food has come on leaps and bounds in presentation and flair, yet staying true to its purpose. 

I chose the Smoked Beetroot Tartar for starters. This wasn't so much as a selection of beetroot as an all out show-off celebration of techniques. Honestly, I don't think you could do anything else with a beetroot! Sliced, smoked, cubed, puree, was all here in this tidy little plate. The fruity pickled berries added a nice sweet/sharp element and the sweet crystallised walnuts sat nicely with the earthy goats curd as well as adding that all important crunch. Beetroot being one of my favourite vegetables of all time, I thought it was one of the best starters I've had in months. It was gorgeous to look at, the lighting was really dark so the photos do not do the food justice, the shards of dry beetroot juice (I think) were the most beautiful luminous pink*

My friend chose the Aubergine Soup with Onion Bhaji and yogurt which was also very nicely presented. Someone has clearly put a lot of effort into sourcing good plates but has their head screwed on.  I was so happy for once to not eat off glass, slate, planks or anything else that is better suited down the builders yard. Not only good looking, the soup was interesting and really delicious from the taste I had. The addition of the bhaji was an unusual twist but certainly elevated what can be a boring starter choice. 

The Venison main was a tale of two plates. The venison itself came elegantly presented with salsify, stem broccoli and honey spiced beetroot (did I mention I love beetroot?). It also arrived with a small cottage pie which was cute, and someone in the kitchen is a dab hand with the piping bag. This was a welcome addition on a cold night and I really liked the homely contrast of it with the more refined main plate. Together it was quite a manly portion but I managed to polish off the whole lot. The sweet salsify and honey beetroot contrasted with the gamey flavour of the venison perfectly.

I knew the Ginger Pig was a great place for bringing a vegetarian and her Wild Mushroom and Vacherin Pithivier with Celeriac Crumb, Mushroom Duxelles and Red Wine Vinaigrette was far more exciting than the standard risotto or pasta dish menu apology. I didn't get to try it but I would have been happy to be presented with it. She is a big mushroom fan and thought it was a different but hugely enjoyable dish.

They are feeders here so really I was too stuffed for dessert but there were some really unusual choices and I will always go for the oddball with the sweet course. Throw me a baked olive alaska or goat cheese and raspberry pannacotta any day, the weirder the better. I was tempted by the Earl Grey Cheese Cake and the Banana Bread and Butter Pudding with Salt Baked Pineapple but I've never had anything like Chocolate Cream and Smoked Oil Parfait so knew I had to order it.

I don't know why - I guess I like to be intrigued by sweet things and often they backfire! This dessert grew on me if I'm honest. Individually some of the elements were a little odd - I couldn't get down with the smoked oil parfait but with a little of the super rich chocolate cream or the lighter chocolate sorbet it worked quite well. The chocolate droplets were not for me though. The presentation, again, was beautiful, a tiny dolls house mocha macaroon like a darling little full stop to the edge of the plate. Still, you can't say it wasn't interesting and I'd take that over a bowl of standard sticky toffee pudding any day.

The wine list is varied and affordable and the food menu is cracking value for the quality of ingredients level of cooking. I was gobsmaked that it was the new head chefs first night here but I believe he'd come from the Gingerman.

I can't fault much with the Pig, I love the smart, inventive yet sensible food served in an elegant setting. This place ticks a lot of boxes.

The Ginger Pig
3 Hove Street
Hove BN3 2TR

*Check @GingerPigDish on Twitter for more realistic images of their food that haven't been snapped in the dark!

Find it on The Graphic Foodie Black Book of Brighton dining on Pinterest Maps.

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