Brighton’s Best Restaurants to offer £20 menus as part of OctoberBEST Restaurant Festival
This Autumn sees the launch of OctoberBEST, a foodie festival with the city’s best independent restaurants at its core. Between the 17th and 30th October, each of the top 20 restaurants in Brighton, as voted for by a panel of chefs, critiques and influencers, (including *ahem* me), will offer diners a £20 menu full of delectable dishes, each with its own unique twist. These include established favourites and new eateries such as; 64 Degrees, Isaac At, Flank, Fatto A Mano and Terre a Terre.
Andy Lynes, national food journalist and co-founder of Brighton’s Best Restaurants Awards, alongside fellow Brightonians Patrick Mcguigan (food writer) and Euan Macdonald (co-founder, 60 second reviews) are the trio behind the inaugural OctoberBEST festival, set up to celebrate the city’s diverse dining scene and its emergence as one of the UK’s leading eating destinations.
“The restaurant scene in Brighton has really flowered over the last two years and there has never been so much quality and diversity as there is now. We believe that Brighton is on at least an equal footing with Britain’s other leading provincial restaurant cities such as Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh. OctoberBEST’s great value menus are the perfect way to explore as much as possible of what the city has to offer without breaking the bank.” – Andy Lynes
Brighton Grub Crawl
In order to sample what’s to come from the festival, I joined Andy and Patrick on a ‘grub crawl’ of some of the participating restaurants. We began with a quick flight on the i360, a glass of Nyetimber in hand, and then on to whet our appetite at The Brighton Beer Dispensary, tucked away on Dean Street, just off Western Road.
After sampling keg and cask beers, we made our way over to Preston Street, home to one of my favourite spots, Bincho Yakitori. The Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese street food restaurant specialises in skewered, grilled meats (Yakitori) and should definitely not be overlooked when considering, which of the top 20 to try out.
We were served a variety of meat, fish and salad items and some more adventurous dishes like Chicken Hearts and Chicken Skin I hadn’t tried on previous visits but was glad after I did. My standouts were the crispy Kara-age (Japanese Fried Chicken), succulent Pork Belly Skewers, tender Wagyu Beef served pink and sweet Japanese Plum Wine to accompany.
Next up was The Set Café, a spot I’ve heard lots good things of but until now had not tried. Both The Set Café and The Set Restaurant are within the hip Artist Residence Hotel, a former regency townhouse overlooking the seafront. Effortlessly cool and ultra-chic, as soon as we entered the mood-lit dining space, I knew I’d like what was to come.
The dishes were works of art and plated up on weighty speckled ceramics. Two courses here made me stop in my tracks. The first was a Fermented Carrot Tartare, which had us all murmuring at how delicious it was. The second was Oxtail with Oxtail Fat Mayonnaise, Toast with Toast Purée and Toast Powder. It sounds like a whole load of toast, but genuinely it was sublime. The Mackerel, Cauliflower & Capers dish was probably the prettiest, but not to my personal taste.
Our final dining destination was The Salt Room on the King’s Road, for sweets and cocktails. The team really went to town, providing three desserts. The first was Peach Parfait with Mascarpone, followed by Homemade Jersey Yoghurt with Macerated Strawberries & Strawberry Jelly – this was excellent, lots of different textures, refreshing, light and my preferred choice of the two.
If only my belly had more room, because what followed was the restaurant’s signature dessert, ‘Taste of the Pier” a sharing platter of seaside-themed treats. Pink fluffy clouds of candy floss, sugar-coated ring doughnuts and cones of salted-caramel ice-cream are served on a board of salvaged wood from the old West Pier, and although just as calorific as the actual tourist trappings’ versions, this was leagues ahead in terms of taste.
The grub crawl only scratched the surface of what the two-week festival will be serving up, so I’m eagerly awaiting its launch so I can work my way around as many of the top 20 as possible; especially, the places I’ve yet to experience (Semolina, 24 St Georges and The Little Fish Market).
Brighton’s Best Restaurants 2016:
1. 64 Degrees
2. The Chilli Pickle
3. The Salt Room
4. The Set
7. The Gingerman
8. Terre a Terre
9. The Little Fish Café
10. Curry Leaf Café
11. The Ginger Pig
13. Bincho Yakitori
15. The Coal Shed
16. Riddle & Finns
17. 24 St. Georges
19. Fatto a Mano
To take advantage of the OctoberBEST offer check out Brightonbestrestaurants.com, where the courses and menu options can be found, then call or email to book your table and mention OctoberBEST. Finally, as I will be doing, eat your heart out!
I’d love to hear if you eat at any of the 20 during OctoberBEST and what you thought. Is there a restaurant or menu I must try? Let me know in the box below or by tweeting @foodieeshe and using the hashtag #OctoberBEST.
*Disclosure: I was invited on a grub crawl ahead of the festival, courtesy of the restaurants, but the restaurants mentioned also have my full support as a paying customer too.