A weekend break in Brighton
Brighton and Hove’s mini baking empire Flour Pot Bakery specialises in artisan breads, inventive bakes and fresh pastries. Try a slice of Brighton blackout cake at the original Sydney Street branch, then mooch down to the shore through the atmospheric Lanes, via Gelato Gusto for a seasonal scoop. Explore global cuisines from the independent traders offering diverse cuisines with live local music at restored Victorian seafront food hall, Shelter Hall. Original The Open Market is home to some great little independents for an afternoon of grazing, including snug Greek café Kouzina, Smorl’s falafel and Mexican tacos at family-run Casa Azul.
Come dinner time, head over to Hove for a five-course seafood tasting menu from one-man-band Duncan Ray at his restaurant, The Little Fish Market. Back in town, sit at the counter at Cin Cin to sip on negroni sbagliatos and watch staff assemble seasonal Italian small plates and fresh pasta dishes, or tuck into regional Indian dishes at kitsch Brighton institution, The Chilli Pickle. Finally, the all-day, late-night restaurant Burnt Orange is a great spot for cocktails and seasonal sharing dishes cooked over fire.
Where to stay
Quirky boutique hotel Artist Residence has unique rooms decorated by local artists that overlook the iconic West Pier. There’s a cocktail bar hidden in the basement serving bespoke drinks, and ground-floor restaurant The Set hosts brunch and great-value set menus in the evening. Doubles from £129, check availability at booking.com
Where to eat and drink in Brighton: the full list
Tucked away deep within the maze-like Lanes, this joint venture from two well established Brighton chefs, Isaac Bartlett-Copeland (Isaac At) and Dave Marrow (Terre à Terre), sees the pair cooking every dish on the menu on a Medieval-style fire cage over kiln-dried ash and birch wood. The vibe in this intimate venue is buzzy and informal, the interiors themed around charcoal walls, grey rock plates and smoke-effect cutlery, and quirky features including wall-mounted charred cross sections of tree trunk, stacks of firewood and a long industrial-style banquette backed with gridiron. A gentle smokiness fills the air, and diners have the option to eat at the kitchen counter overlooking all the open-fire theatrics. The seasonal menu is primarily made up of smaller sharing plates plus larger centrepiece dishes (with the likes of aged pork tomahawk). Once you’ve ordered, the dishes arrive at breakneck speed, and standouts included soused mackerel with little cubes of sharp Bramley apple, earthy beetroot sauerkraut and thick dollops of labneh; beautifully charred, tender chicken leg with smoky ’nduja-infused aioli; and flaky, scorched sea bream matched with sweet smacked cucumber and nutty, chewy grains. The cocktails are good, too – we enjoyed the smooth, refreshing lychee martini – and save space for a gorgeously creamy retro banana split with toffee sauce and fragrant rosemary and parsnip ice cream. embersbrighton.co.uk
Furna is chef Dave Mothersill’s first solo venture, having earned his chops on the Brighton scene at the likes of perennial favourites The Salt Room and The Gingerman. The understated venue, opposite the Pavilion, features leather banquettes, elegant small dining tables and a counter at close quarters to the open kitchen where guest can dine while watching the chefs at work.
On offer is a regularly changing menu of small sharing plates. Dishes are bold and the flavour combinations unusual, but the results are spectacular – standouts included a honey and thyme Parker House roll with umami-rich roasted yeast butter and creamy smoked cod’s roe with a slick of grassy parsley oil to slather over; buttery soft milk-brined veal sweetbread with a crunchy roasted rice coating, subtly sweet Delica pumpkin and a meaty chicken reduction; and an al dente mushroom pappardelle ripiene singing with intense black garlic and tangy aged parmesan.
The paired wines are just as audacious as the food – including intriguing bottles from Greece, Japan and the South Downs. Inventive cocktails are worth exploring, too, each focussed on a single ingredient, such as tangy, smoky stem ginger and an earthy beetroot number with a welcome boozy kick. furnarestaurant.co.uk
The Black Rock Group has a sound reputation in Brighton, with its roster of restaurants, including The Salt Room, Burnt Orange and The Coal Shed, already firm favourites with local diners. Tutto is the latest offering, an Italian restaurant set in a former banking hall on the outskirts of the North Laine.
The high-ceilinged interior, with its grand arched windows overlooking a small alfresco seating area out front, has stylish art deco touches and large, colourful, graphic art adorning the walls. The vibe around the small bistro-style tables is intimate and relaxed, with low lighting and mellow background music.
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The menu follows the classic Italian format of cicchetti, antipasti, primi and secondi, and there’s also a set menu if you’d prefer to delegate your choices. Opening options include buttery bone marrow with parmesan and gremolata on crisp toasts, and long-stemmed broccoli fritto with ‘nduja aïoli. The standout dish is the tagliatelle cacio e pepe with black truffle, the pasta cooked perilously close but just the right side of al dente, and the irresistibly silky sauce suffused with a perfectly judged hit of pepper. The roasted sea bass in an autumnal wild mushroom, shallot and confit garlic sauce was also excellent, the fish beautifully succulent, complemented nicely with a side of chilli-spiked brassicas.
The drinks menu is almost exclusively Italian, featuring red and white wines grouped by region, the common characteristics of each area helpfully explained. The cocktails remain faithful to the country, too, with four varieties of negroni on offer, and a stunning slushie-like sgroppino our favourite on the night. tutto-restaurant.co.uk
Wild Flor is an intimate, smart, welcoming neighbourhood bistro in Hove that matches affordable, high-quality wines with classic British and French food. The à la carte menu offers a choice of snacks, and a concise selection of starters, mains and desserts (plus cheeses), focussing on comfort classics and seasonal ingredients. The service is jovial, relaxed and familiar, and you’re given a sense that those front of house have a passion for what their restaurant is trying to do – especially when it comes wine-pairing suggestions to match your personal tastes.
Read our full review of Wild Flor here…
Kanthi Thamma and Diego Ricaurte’s Palmito is hot stuff, literally. Using open-fire techniques, the ex-Chilli Pickle chefs combine Sussex produce with influences from their South Indian and Ecuadorian heritages, to create an eclectic menu of, for example, peanut stuffed Padrón peppers with tamarind chutney, beef short rib tacos or a xacuti-style coconut and poppy seed Goan curry. Plates £6-£18; palmito.co.uk
Situated on the Brighton seafront, Shelter Hall is a food hall set within a 15,000 sq ft Victorian building that has been lovingly restored to its former glory. The concept is led by Sessions Market – a hospitality incubator and accelerator programme founded by Dan Warne, ex-managing director of Deliveroo, that aims to find, curate and scale up new, local food concepts. Shelter Hall is currently home to seven local independent traders spaced over its two floors, all of which offer different cuisines and exciting food ideas. In addition, five of the vendors have short brunch menus at the weekend. Dishes such as the ox breakfast bun start at around £6, and drinks can be ordered from the Shelter Hall bar, with wine and beer starting at £5.50 for a glass/pint and a full cocktail menu starting at £7.50 per drink. shelterhall.co.uk
This modern British outfit (run by the canny former owners of popular Brighton vegetarian restaurant Food for Friends) has an ethos of ‘being kind’ to the planet, and there’s a strong emphasis on high-welfare meats, sustainable fish, local fruit and veg, and preserving and pickling to extend the seasons. The interiors are warm – rattan chairs, cascading plants and a pretty-in-pink marble bar – and the chefs make the most of an open fire while creating zero-waste, maximum-flavour dishes. The restaurant has bigger environmental ambitions, too, with plans to use 100% green energy in the future.
Read our full review of Kindling here…
Cool and unpretentious, Etch is a casual and intimate space offering fine dining, with two weekly changing tasting menus. The interior features dark blue walls, bold orange leather seats, trendy neon lighting and clothless tables, while staff look the part, dressed in tweed waistcoats, ankle swingers and pin rolls, and brogues. Chef Steven Edwards works with local producers from the surrounding Sussex countryside to pick the freshest seasonal ingredients for their intricate dishes – expect the likes of Sussex Trenchmore beef with charred Hispi cabbage, locally caught scallops with squid crackers, and cherries filled with crème fraîche.
Read our full review of Etch here…
The Salt Room
A modern British restaurant on Brighton’s seafront focussed on Josper-grilled fish and meat, and local, sustainable produce. The restaurant has a contemporary, refined look, with a mixture of whitewashed, bare-brick and wood-slatted walls, bistro-style tables, curvy dark-wood Scandi-esque seats and banquettes – in summer, the terrace looking out across the sea is the place to be. The fish main courses are the outstanding reason to come to The Salt Room, including the likes of lemon sole on the bone, with purple-sprouting broccoli, wild garlic, miniature capers and red grapes; and tandoori monkfish with roasted cauliflower.
Read our full review of The Salt Room here…
The Little Fish Market
With just 20 covers, one-man-band chef Duncan Ray’s diminutive restaurant certainly lives up to its name. But, what it lacks in space, it more than makes up for in quality, which should come as no surprise considering the fact that Duncan’s CV includes a stint at The Fat Duck and time spent working under Marco Pierre White and John Burton-Race. Cooking single-handedly, this might sound like a modest operation but the £69 no-choice five-course tasting menu displays plenty of ambition and talent, with dishes such as monkfish, mussel curry and apple followed by Gigha halibut, celeriac, seaweed potato and Hispi cabbage. thelittlefishmarket.co.uk
Sit at the counter to watch staff carve smoked speck, Tuscan finocchiona speckled with fragrant fennel seeds, and slice prosecco-smoked pecorino cheese. Seasonal small plates rotate, or choose from the bar’s pasta dishes, including black squid-ink pappardelle with little pops of capers, and sturdy gnocchi with Tuscan sausage, crunchy courgette cubes and a light tomato sauce. Italian cocktails are top notch – start with a sbagliato aperitivo, a sparkling prosecco-based negroni drink, and finish with a refreshing sgroppino (lemon sorbet, vodka and prosecco for the perfect cocktail/dessert combo) to set you up for a night on the town. cincin.co.uk
Colourful art, sackcloth cushions and a large breakfast bar liven up brunch at The Set, as do the spicy bloody marys. Watch chefs prepare seasonal dishes in the open kitchen – heritage tomatoes with salty seaweed pesto, super-crisp pork on squidgy potato waffles, and eggs covered with Marmite hollandaise. The evening menu’s puddings are spot on: cereal milk, milk ice cream, homemade spelt sugar puffs is a comforting bowl that takes you back to childhood. The three-course set menu is £39 and there are a few surprises thrown in (chicken nuggets and ketchup, a bag of poshed-up sweets to take home), making it good value. thesetrestaurant.com
A casual all-day restaurant headed by 64 Degrees chef Michael Bremner on Brighton’s newly restored promenade, serving healthy, modern British plates. Set within the promenade’s newly restored Victorian arches, with several folding doors opening out towards the beach, Murmur has been designed with summertime al fresco dining in mind. The à la carte menu includes the likes of spiced coconut fish soup with toasted garlic focaccia to start, and a main of baked cod, sake butter sauce, cucumber and red dulse; while the strong cocktail list features a grapefruit aperitif with yuzu tonic.
Click here to read our full review of Murmur
Terre à Terre
A meat-free pioneer since 1993, Amanda Powley’s restaurant also serves creative vegan and vegetarian afternoon teas. Expect clever deployment of tea as an ingredient (lapsang souchong pickled watermelon; tea-soaked sultana scones), and original savoury items, such as steamed rice buns filled with Szechuan marinated halloumi or Korean-style fried cauliflower with kimchi, umeboshi chestnut purée, pickled daikon and crispy kale. Sweet treats might include chocolate hazelnut truffle cake or orange and almond polenta cake with clementine sorbet, pomegranate molasses and a pink pepper meringue with coconut cream. terreaterre.co.uk
It’s a little off the beaten track but Moksha is a big favourite with local Brightonians and well worth a diversion if your looking for brilliantly cooked, well-priced food in a smart, spacious, buzzy café. The coffee’s top-notch, and with award-winning brunches including huevos rancheros, shakshuka and the Moksha Breakfast (free-range Sussex cumberland sausage, bacon, eggs, grilled flat mushroom and beef tomato, homemade baked beans, toasted sourdough and optional black pudding), a diversionary stop-off at Moksha is a guaranteed win.
This tiny neighbourhood restaurant run by husband and wife team Orson and Linda Whitfield punches well above its weight with dishes celebrating local suppliers and their produce. Everything at Semolina is made from scratch, and tempting dishes include the likes of slip sole, clams and lemon verbena; cuttlefish, sea vegetables and gremolata; and sage-brined pork loin, bubble and squeak, and rhubarb chutney. Sussex is well represented on the drinks menu, too, with three regional beers and a cider, as well as white and sparkling wines on offer.
A five-minute walk via the back of Brighton train station is The Open Market, home to some great little independents. Sit in snug Greek café Kouzina for hearty home-cooked classics such as moussaka and spanakopita; grab a falafel and some hummus from Smorl’s to take to the beach; order a delicious steaming bowl of bibimbap from Korean-Japanese eatery Kor-pan; bag some absolutely top-notch mini sausage rolls from McStrongs; or indulge in authentic Mexican tacos at welcoming family-run Casa Azul.
The Chilli Pickle
This Brighton institution is a spacious, modern, knowingly kitsch Indian restaurant offering imaginative spins on classic regional dishes. Choose from the likes of keemar methi (Sussex lamb mince cooked Punjabi style with mint, coriander, chilli, garam masala and roasted cumin served with masala chapatis, hung yogurt and green chilli mint pickle); and mussel rasam and toasted poa (Cornish mussles in a Tamil pepper, beets and tomato broth, curry leaf, ginger and toasted cumin brioche).
Read our full review of The Chilli Pickle here…
This modern, small-plates restaurant and cocktail bar in the heart of Brighton’s revamped Lanes makes for an ideal date-night option if you’re looking for a place with a lively vibe. Service is cheery and prompt, and sit on stools at the pass to see the chefs in action, serving up the likes of bream ceviche with lime juice, raisins, chilli and coriander; radishes dressed with crème fraîche and furikake; and braised squid rings with tomatoes, black olives and ’nduja. Flint House doesn’t take reservations, so if you have to wait a while, use your time well sipping a Flint House Fizz (rhubarb liqueur, red wine vinegar and sparkling wine) at the upstairs cocktail bar and terrace.
Read our full review of Flint House here…
Fatto a Mano
Fatto a Mano brings an authentic taste of Naples to its three restaurants (two in Brighton, one in Hove) with its soft, pillowy wood-fired pizzas. The chefs collaborate with producers in Sussex, and there are regular staff tours of Italy, which inspire ideas such as the pizza topped with tomato, spicy minced pork, spianata, roasted peppers, mozzarella, basil and parmesan; and the tomato-less ‘white’ pizza with fennel sausage, Neapolitan broccoli, chilli, provola, mozzarella and parmesan.
Flour Pot Bakery
Brighton and Hove’s mini baking empire Flour Pot Bakery (there are seven outposts dotted around the city) specialises in artisan breads, inventive bakes and fresh pastries. Try a slice of Brighton Blackout Cake (a full-on three-layered chocolate sponge cake) at the original Sydney Street branch, or head to the Hove outpost to stock up on breads – the likes of challah, sunflower rye and seeded sourdough – to take to the beach for a picnic.
Where to stay in Brighton
Stay at this quirky boutique hotel overlooking the iconic West Pier: each room has its own unique style, plus there’s a cocktail bar hidden in the basement serving up bespoke drinks. Rooms at Artist Residence (where you can tuck into a locally sourced full English at the funky breakfast bar, or enjoy a brew in bed, with sea views) feature bespoke artwork and are decked out with Robert’s radios, mini Smeg fridges and Tunnock’s caramel bars for nostalgic snacking. The hotel also houses The Set restaurant and The Cocktail Shack, so you don’t need to leave the building to enjoy some of Brighton’s best food and drink. Doubles from £129, check availability at booking.com
Click here to read our full review of Artist Residence
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