Last night the atmosphere was electric as the movers, shakers and culinary elite of Brighton’s food scene packed into Brewdog for the second annual Brighton’s Best Top 20 Restaurants Awards. As I scoured the room I was honoured to be amongst such esteemed company and memories came flooding back of all the wonderful meals, exquisite cocktails and friendly service I have received from many of them in the last 12 months.
The event is created and hosted by the combined talents of Andy Lynes, Euan Macdonald and Patrick Mcguigan, with Euan comparing the evening with the same comic genius and timing that you would expect from James Corden at The Grammys. In fact, James has nothing on him.
The evening opened with a relentless onslaught of gags and jibes at many of the attendees and some of Brighton’s less successful dining destinations. Nothing and no one were off limits, including myself who received a mention for my varied spectrum of reviews. Michelin-star dining in San Sebastian right through Noo Noodles – say no more.
I was part of the judging panel for the awards, which includes more than 100 local experts, including food writers, critics, bloggers, chefs, restaurateurs and business leaders, as well as a dedicated dining panel picked from the general public. So who won what and why. Below you’ll find the full results with a selection of images from my visits to many of them.
Brighton’s Best Restaurants – The Top 20 Winners
1. 64Degrees, 64degrees.co.uk
It was no surprise to anyone that for a second year running 64 Degrees won the award for number 1 restaurant in Brighton. Chef and Owner, Michael Bremner also took home the award for ‘Best Chef’ and having met and interviewed Michael personally last year, I have to agree that he’s a worthy winner.
2. Bincho Yakitori, binchoyakitori.com
The roar in the room as Bincho was announced as the ‘second best restaurant in Brighton’ was deafening and my cheer was one of the loudest. I’ve already eaten at Bincho twice this year and three times last year, so I was delighted to hear it had placed so high this time (up from position thirteen last year).
3. The Chilli Pickle, thechillipickle.com
Another one of my favourite restaurants and one that can always be relied on to serve an excellent meal. This year, The Chilli Pickle dropped down one place but won a second award for ‘Best OctoberBEST Menu’ at last year’s OctoberBEST Festival. (What’s OctoberBEST you’re wondering? Find out here).
4. The Little Fish Market, thelittlefishmarket.co.uk
Now with three AA Rosettes, The Little Fish Market is up five places in the rankings from last year – this one is top of my visit list, so watch out for a review coming soon.
5. The Set, thesetrestaurant.com
A busy year has paid off for the boys at The Set, landing inside the top 5 last night. With The Set Restaurant, The Set Cafe and their newest project, Dizzy Gull at The Brighton Beer Dispensary, which also won Best Roast too last night, these guys seem to be taking on a lot and smashing it all. N.B. Look out for news of their charity ‘Action For Hunger – Too Many Critics’ event (which I’m cooking at), coming soon to their kitchen in April.
6. Cin Cin, cincin.co.uk
Italian bar and restaurant Cin Cin, made a brand new entry to the awards and what a huge achievement to fly in at 6th place in its first year! David Toscana, one of the Co-Founders also won the award for ‘Best Welcome’ last night too, which I wholeheartedly agree with.
7. Plateau, plateaubrighton.co.uk
Losing one place on last year, French bar and restaurant Plateau placed 7th last night. If you’re a fan of fine wine and sharing plates make a reservation here soon.
8. The Salt Room, saltroom-restaurant.co.uk
After a recent glowing review from Jay Rayner it’s no surprise that seafood & grill restaurant, The Salt Room, place well inside the top 10. Matt Ottley of The Salt Room also took home the award for ‘Best Barkeep’ on the night too, which is definitely well-deserved. I’ve had some of the finest mocktails and cocktails in Brighton here too.
9. Silo, silobrighton.com
Proving it’s much more than just a sustainable restaurant and delivers delicious as well as guilt-free food. Silo placed in 9th position.
10. Semolina, semolinabrighton.co.uk
Semolina, a bistro restaurant, in the London Road area, moved up two places on 2016, squeezing itself just inside the top 10.
11. The Gingerman, gingermanrestaurant.com
Making it’s home in Brighton for more than 20 years, the Gingerman continues to stand the test of time, placing 11th.
12. Terre á Terre, terreaterre.co.uk
The only fully vegetarian restaurant in the top 20 and one of the best places for dessert in Brighton in my opinion. Terre á Terre placed 12th in the rankings.
13. Curry Leaf Cafe, curryleafcafe.com
It’s been all change for South Indian restaurant Curry Leaf recently, with its pop-up at The Temple Bar closing in November 2016 but a brand new restaurant in Kemptown just opened in January 2017. Curry Leaf Cafe in The Lanes seems to still be the favourite, though, placing 13th.
14. Isaac At, isaac-at.com
Last year Isaac At just made it into the top 20 – not bad for a brand new restaurant. This year, though, I was thrilled to see it jump up six places. However, in my opinion, it deserved to be in the top 10 and perhaps once it’s better known with Brightonians it will make it.
15. The Ginger Pig, thegingerpigpub.com
A regular winner of every Brighton food award going, this year The Ginger Pig dropped from 11 to 15. Look out for the opening of holiday apartments above The Ginger Pig pub in Hove, coming in June 2017.
16. Fatto A Mano, fattoamanopizza.com
Neighbourhood pizzeria, Fatto A Mano, holds its own against mainly fine dining venues, jumping up three places from last year. And if you haven’t heard already, Fatto A Mano now caters for vegan and gluten-free diets, so there’s no need for anyone to be left out next time you visit.
17. The Urchin, urchinpub.wordpress.com
The Urchin pub in Hove was another brand new entry for 2017, sliding in at position 17. It’s also one of the spots I voted for. If you love shellfish and craft beer be sure to take a visit here asap.
18. The Coal Shed, coalshed-restaurant.co.uk
With its sister, The Salt Room, getting all the attention of late it would be easy to forget steak specailists, The Coal Shed but the judges didn’t and this year it secured a spot in 18th position, falling three places from last year.
19. Riddle & Finns, riddleandfinns.co.uk
One of Brighton’s best-loved seafood restaurants, Riddle & Finns came in at position 19. I’m a fan myself too, although it’s been several years since I’ve visited – perhaps I’m due to revisit?
20. Fourth & Church, fourthandchurch.co.uk
Expect wonderful wines from around the world, plus fabulous cheeses, charcuterie and cured fish here. Although I’ve not tried this one yet it comes highly recommended by my friend and fellow food writer, Tom Flint, who says:
“These guys are creating some of the best food in Brighton and Hove, and I really hope this makes more people take notice of them.”
Do you agree with the winners? Who would have made your list and why? Be sure to tell me by leaving a comment below.