They say as you get older your hangovers get more painful and it’s true. The proof? It’s six days after Brighton’s Best Restaurants awards and I’m only just fully recovered. Or maybe that’s just what happens when you try to keep up with chefs. Note to self: Don’t even try next time – you will not win.
The Top 20 awards, now in their fourth year, are all about boosting Brighton’s profile as a fab foodie destination and the organisers – Andy Lynes, Euan Macdonald, Patrick Mcguigan and Suzanne Linfors do it all for free because it’s a genuine passion.
I was thrilled to be one of the judges for the awards again, along with local food writers, chefs, restaurateurs, business leaders and Brighton residents, all hand-picked by the organisers for their prolific dining habits.
And boy was this year a turn-up for the books. Bincho Yakitori, Cin Cin, The Chilli Pickle and The Little Fish Market were all expected winners but there were also brand new entries that mixed things up a little.
- Goemon Ramen – now on my radar but wasn’t before
- Chard – recently relocated to the upstairs of Igigi
- Baby Bao – at The Pond (and Street Diner on Fridays)
- Market Restaurant – which I’ve been telling everyone about for years
With so many new openings of late, sadly not all that deserved a place got it this year. A few of the gooduns that slipped off the Top 20 list were: The Coal Shed, The Ginger Pig, Silo (soon to relocate to London) and The Urchin.
Plus, closures from Pascere, 1901 and Grow 40 this year mean these were also off limits for votes too.
However, there was one great piece of restaurant news announced at the event. Aaron Dalton of the FOUR pop-up restaurant series has confirmed a site on Vine Street (home also to Cin Cin) and will be bringing his slow-cooked and smoked meat offering to Brighton via a takeaway hatch and full-service restaurant – more details of this when I get them!
Anyway, here they are, Brighton’s Best Restaurants for 2019, plus what I think about them…
Brighton’s Best Restaurants – The Top 20 Winners
1. The Little Fish Market, thelittlefishmarket.co.uk
Phenomenal food, faultless service and 3 AA rosettes, no wonder this fine-dining restaurant has held onto its position as Brighton’s number one restaurant for a third year running. Deservedly the team also picked up two more awards, Best Chef (Duncan Ray) and Best Front of House (Rob Smith). N.B. This restaurant is booked up until I don’t know when, so best to plan far ahead if you wish to dine here.
2. Bincho Yakitori, binchoyakitori.com
First date – go to Bincho. Anniversary meal – can we go to bincho? Girls night out – it’s got to be… Bincho! One of my favourites and a favourite amongst chefs, this buzzing, laid-back, Japanese barbecue restaurant landed second position for its third year running. N.B. The crispy chicken skin is the absolute one to order here.
Read my Bincho Yakitori review here.
3. Cin Cin, cincin.co.uk
If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, Brighton didn’t know good Italian food until Cin Cin came along. And now we have two fab restaurants from them, Western Road and the original Vine Street. You really can’t go far wrong with either. N.B. Tight pockets? Head over on a Tuesday lunchtime and take advantage of the £10 pasta and wine/beer offer.
Read my Cin Cin review here.
4. Etch, etchfood.co.uk
Steven Edwards, former Masterchef Professionals Winner, opened his first restaurant, Etch, back in March 2017 and I’ve been keeping my eye on it ever since. This is London standard food in my opinion, stunningly presented and paced perfectly. Can you believe the head chef here is just 25? N.B. Look out for the regular chef collaborations at Etch for something one-off.
Read my Etch review here.
5. The Chilli Pickle, thechillipickle.com
It’s always up there and it’s always delicious. The Chilli Pickle lands itself the top five once again. Clearly, launching a new site in Guildford this year hasn’t stopped this restaurant churning out those Thalis to a high standard. N.B. The Chilli Pickle has a bargain lunchtime offer on Mondays – £10 for its King Thali.
Read my Chilli Pickle review here.
6. The Set, thesetrestaurant.com
Brand new breakfast and dinner menus and a very special “Chef’s Table offering” have worked wonders for The Set, keeping it in high esteem with the voting panel and its customers. N.B. Did you hear about the new bar (Trashed Panda) underneath The Set that opened this week? Find it behind the secret bookcase…
Read my reviews of The Set here and here.
7. 64 Degrees, 64degrees.co.uk
I was surprised to see 64 Degrees drop down so far, having been voted the best restaurant in the past twice. Competition is tough right now but I’m sure they’ll be back with vengeance next year.
8. The Gingerman, gingermanrestaurant.com
My favourite of all the Ginger Group restaurants and worth every penny (and you will need a few to eat here). Go for the full tasting menu with wine flight, it’s a real treat. N.B. Look out for the launch of the newest restaurant from the Ginger Group of restaurants – The Flint House, part of the old Hanningtons Estate.
9. The Salt Room, saltroom-restaurant.co.uk
Holding its position steady for another year this specialist seafood and steak restaurant remains in position nine. N.B. Want a prime view of this year’s Pride parade (but away from the crowds)? The Salt Room hosts a boozy brunch on its Botanical Gin Terrace each year. Tickets go fast though, so be ready when they’re announced.
10. Petit Pois, petitpoisbrighton.co.uk
A little French bistro that won’t break the bank nestled in the south lanes. On my next to visit list. N.B. On a budget? Check out Petite Pois’ set menu offering – 2 plates for £9.50 or 3 plates £13.50.
11. Chard, chardbrighton.co.uk
A new entry but these are not new chefs. Chard were serving up their elegant seasonal suppers at Café Rust up until they acquired a space upstairs at the Igigi general store back in December. I’m hearing great things already.
12. Baby Bao at The Pond, thepondbrighton.com
Our first pub on the list – not only does it serve seriously tasty Vietnamese steamed buns filled with saucy treats it also dedicates a whole day to serving a vegan-only menu (Mondays). N.B. Need a quick bite to-go, find these guys at the street diner food market every Friday afternoon too.
Read my Baby Bao review here.
13. Isaac At, isaac-at.com
Flying the flag for Sussex produce, Isaac At also returns in the Top 20 this year. I’ve eaten here so many times and I love the teams’ commitment to sourcing from Sussex and that beautiful juice flight – it’s genius!
14. Fourth and Church, fourthandchurch.co.uk
Up from position 17 last year, it’s a wine shop, deli and tapas bar all rolled into one. Another one I need to get to this year.
15. Goemon Ramen Bar – no website
A bit of a surprise new entry this one – especially considering I’m told this is somewhere that’s inconsistent with its opening times. Have you been here? Is it that good?
16. Plateau, plateaubrighton.co.uk
A reliably excellent restaurant with really beautiful fresh plates of food. My go-to for sophisticated dining and wine tastings. N.B. Need mid-week treat? Every Wednesday (5-7pm) Plateau offers five wine tastings (not full glasses) for £10.
Read my Plateau review here.
17. Fatto a Mano, fattoamanopizza.com
I’m a big fan of this neighbourhood pizzeria, especially the new site in the centre of the North Laine. Each day the dough is made by hand and both vegans and coeliacs can eat without worry. N.B. Have kids? Take advantage of the kids eat for free* at Fatto a Mano offer. *One free kid’s pizza + gelato per one paying adult.
18. Murmur, murmur-restaurant.co.uk
The sister to 64 Degrees, this beachfront modern brasserie restaurant serves up European dishes with a twist. Murmur will be 2 years old this July but I’ve only managed to eat breakfast here, so another one I have to get again to in 2019.
Read my Murmur review here.
19. Market, market-restaurantbar.co.uk
Great music, cheerful staff and absolutely banging roasts – I’m really delighted to see these guys in the top 20 after many years of shouting their praises.
20. Riddle and Finns, riddleandfinns.co.uk
It’s been years since I went to Riddle & Finns (it was the days before I photographed everything I ate) and it’s not an easy one to get into (you can’t book). But I still remember my first dinner here was superb. If you’re partial to fish/champagne it’s definitely one you have to try.
As well as announcing a list of the Top 20 restaurants in Brighton, the awards also recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals through seven additional categories of awards. This year these were:
- Best Chef – Duncan Ray, The Little Fish Market
- Best Front of House – Rob Smith, The Little Fish Market
- Best New Opening – Easy Tiger
- Best Out of Town Destination – The Ginger Fox
- Best Sunday Lunch –Dizzy Gull
- Best Wine List – Etch
- Rising Star – Chard
For the full list of winners including a further 10 runners up, which will be invited to take part in the OctoberBEST restaurant festival later this year, visit brightonsbestrestaurants.com.
So, did your favourite restaurant make it? And if it didn’t, tell me what restaurant was missing in the comments below.
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