10 of the best restaurants in Brighton
By Eshé Brown
10 years ago Brighton had only a handful of good quality restaurants but today it’s a very different story. The city’s food scene is evolving at a fierce pace and is now home to nationally acclaimed restaurants as well as some fresh and exciting new ones.
My favourites include a mixture of newcomers, local secrets, as well as some long-standing institutions. Here they are…
1. Bincho Yakitori
Bincho is a spot that really brings the phrase ‘hidden gem’ to life. It sits on Preston Street alongside the greasy fast-food joints but don’t let that put you off – it serves the best street food in the city.
The Japanese izakaya-style food is all freshly cooked-to-order, skipping fancy frills and unnecessary elaborate presentation, to get straight to powerfully flavoured and well-cooked dishes. The average dish costs around £4-£5, so you can greedily order your way through as many temptations as your stomach can handle. Go for the Korean fried chicken or pork belly skewers.
2. Isaac At
On the corner of Gloucester Street in the North Laine is this new pop-up restaurant open from Tuesday through to Saturday. Choose the set menu (for £35) or the tasting menu (£47) and dine on exquisite, contemporary, fine British cuisine.
Head chef Isaac, who’s just 23, visits the producers where he sources his ingredients and as a result dishes are inspired by what he learns about the food on his trips. The food mileage of the, often foraged, ingredients are listed on scrolls alongside the menu so you can see exactly where your food has come from. Book a seat at the pass for an up-close view of all the action in the kitchen.
Brighton has a reputation for being a hub for conscious-minded businesses and Silo, the UK’s first and only zero-waste restaurant, is one of the city’s great food successes.
Not only is all the food sustainably sourced and waste recycled in Bertha the in-house composter – the interior is made entirely from upcycled materials too. The food is excellent and nationally acclaimed, I recommend the candy beetroot, workshop cheese and potato dumplings.
Following Silo on the conscious care for sustainability and zero-waste is Flank, a pop-up restaurant within The Cow at Seven Dials. Headed up by chef Thomas Griffiths, the menu has Nordic influences and is designed to be a nose-to-tail dining experience using the parts of the animal that are usually unwanted or discarded.
Despite a menu that’s refreshed weekly, Flank’s signature dish – the short rib with bone marrow ketchup – has remained on the menu since its opening and is worth ordering.
5. 64 Degrees
Tucked away in the South Lanes is a tiny restaurant that needs little introduction. Not only voted as the No.1 restaurant in Brighton, it also recently came 16th in the UK Restaurant Awards Top 100 list. Serving up dynamic plates, with fresh, local produce, it’s the star of the city.
Speaking of stars, Michael Bremner, chef and owner of 64 Degrees, is currently taking part in The Great British Menu and his recent triumph, ‘A Message to the Lode Star’ set in half a wine bottle, can be sampled at 64 Degrees for £12.50, whilst mackerel is in season.
A little out of the city centre is MARKET. A restaurant hard to miss with its stunning, Victorian green exterior. Inside, the decor is just as loud with green metro tiled walls alongside dazzling bevelled mirrors.
The menu is full of tasty treats inspired by the owners Neil and Kate’s travels. Choose between a main-course or several small plates for sharing, divided up on the menu as ‘From the Green Grocer’, ‘From the Fish Monger’, ‘From the Butcher’ and so on. My dish of the moment is the stunning venison carpaccio with plums, hazelnuts and truffled honey.
It’s a restaurant made for the more adventurous diner, offering three set menus; two including meat and fish and one vegetarian. As well as a creative use of ingredients and flavours, the dishes are akin to works of art. My must-try dish is the oxtail, toast, shallot and baby gem.
8. The Chilli Pickle
For an authentic Indian cuisine in the city centre, you have two choices; The Chilli Pickle or Curry Leaf Café. For me The Chilli Pickle just pips Curry Leaf, with superb service and fresh, well-seasoned dishes.
Try the king thali (only £10 on Mondays) a round platter with a selection of dishes comprising sweet, salt, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy flavours. There’s also a good value, pre-theatre set menu for £13.50 between 6-7pm.
9. Fatto A Mano
For a slice of Italy a must-visit is Fatto A Mano with restaurants in both Hove and Brighton. Dishing up classic Neapolitan pizzas with soft, pillowy bases and a choice of either red (San Marzano tomato base) or white (without tomato base). The dough is made by hand and is baked for just 90 seconds in the wood-fired oven, which kicks out heat up to 450 degrees.
10. Food for Friends
There are two great vegetarian restaurants in Brighton, Terre à Terre and Food for Friends, both of which have stood the test of time for more than two decades. It’s almost impossible to choose between the two, but for me, the Food for Friends environment feels more relaxing.
I’m not vegetarian, but I’ll happily pass up meat to eat here, as I never feel as though I’m missing out when I dine. Dish-wise the sharing platter for two is a good option and contains a divine vegetarian scotch egg.
If you have been tempted by my shortlist, you’ll be pleased to hear that for two weeks, between 17-30 October, some of the above restaurants* will offer diners a special £20 menu as part of Brighton’s inaugural #OctoberBEST festival, which aims to celebrate Brighton’s dynamic and independent food scene.
*Except Food for Friends and The Market. Fatto A Mano will be offering a series of specials throughout the festival too.
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