English’s, Brighton: Restaurant Review
A family-run restaurant serving traditional, British, seafood in the heart of Brighton’s historic lanes.
I’m a fan of old things, be it antique silverware, dry-aged steak or, much to my friends’ amusement, older men. So it should be no surprise to discover that English’s – the oldest seafood restaurant in Brighton – has a soft spot in my heart.
Situated just off East Street in The Lanes and on the corner of Market Street, English’s is a family-owned and operated restaurant.
The Leigh-Jones family have run English’s since 1945 and in its time, it’s had several famous customers, including Charlie Chaplin, Lily Savage and Judy Dench.
The building itself is more than 150 years old and when you step inside, its low ceilings and sloping floors give that all away.
For me it is this and the hand-painted signage on the exterior, that’s all part of English’s charm – it’s just so quintessentially British.
Set over two floors, with 3 inter-connected dining rooms, it’s a large restaurant with 55 covers and a swanky, marble-topped oyster bar that’s the perfect spot for a romantic date or special celebration.
The style of the food is classic, traditional seafood with no pretentious fuss – cooked really well. If you’re looking for micro herbs or black salt grown on a volcano halfway from around the world this is not the place for you.
There are so many options on the menu, so much so, I could have written about 1,000 words just on them. What’s best to choose, really depends on which day you dine.
On weekdays I’d take advantage of the 2-course set menu for £23pp or the 3-courses, for £28pp – available all day.
If it’s a Tuesday hen perhaps Mussel Mayhem (available all day) with a choice of 5 different varieties of moules, with frites and bread for dipping, a glass of red/white wine and a dessert from the à la carte menu – all for just £20!
On Fridays there’s a choice of 7 delicious lobster dishes, all served with garlic chips, a glass of fizz for £20.
And at the weekend I’d go there for their oyster-filled brunches – yum!
If you order from the à la carte menu then English’s starter platter (£24) to share would be where I’d start.
The starter platter includes:
- Salmon slices – smoked in house, in English’s kitchen, to give it a distinctly delicate smoky flavour and served in twisted swirls, on top of homemade rye bread.
- Prawn cocktail – made with homemade Marie Rose sauce, fresh Atlantic prawns, that were small but very sweet, and set on top of crispy baby gem lettuce.
- Chicken liver parfait – made with port and red wine and topped off with pink peppercorn butter. Rich and thick and so good once the good runs out you’ll happily eat this off the spoon.
- Calamari – dusted with the chef’s own curry powder blend adding a little warmth and a modern twist to the classic favourite.
- Lobster and prawn croquettes – served crisp and dry with a tasty garlic aioli on the side.
Considering the variety of items on the platter, I think this is great value for money.
For mains, I recommend asking for whatever the catch of the day is – at the market price. On my visit, it was a huge whole brill caught locally in Newhaven and baked with lemon and butter. We also had two sides of chips, one fat, one skinny with garlic butter and tartare sauce, both perfectly crisp and not a touch of grease.
The Brill skin was brown and speckled on the outside with moist, white flaky fish very mild in flavour, ready and waiting on the inside and our expert waiter filleted it expertly at our table.
The sashimi grade tuna loin (£21pp), was a real treat too. Served rare and coated in honey and then rolled in sesame seeds with thin and crispy wasabi crackers and a seaweed and orange salad. A beautifully light dish, ideal to share over lunch.
Finally, if you have a sweet tooth, the selection of desserts really aren’t to be missed either – this mini selection of desserts I had was just for our menu preview and isn’t available to customers but at only £8 a dish, you can afford to get a couple and share.
Our dessert platter included:
- A very sticky, very gooey but surprisingly light, sticky toffee pudding served with butterscotch sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- A traditional apple tart, only better, served with rum & raisin ice cream, cinnamon, lemon balm and very light, sweet Chantilly cream.
- A truly divine white chocolate cheesecake made with mascarpone cheese and served with fresh mango cubes and passion fruit.
- And finally, chocolate & banana cremeaux made with a banana base and topped with fresh raspberries, coconut, granola – this is as close to a healthy dessert as you’re ever likely to get!
Rating: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
Having experienced a range of the dishes on offer at English’s, I would wholeheartedly recommend a trip here, especially if you’re more into classic cooking. In the summer, there are a small number of tables available outside on the front terrace too, so it’s worth planning ahead and booking a spot there when it’s sunny.
English’s of Brighton
29-31 East Street, Brighton, BN1 1HL
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*Disclosure – English’s invited me to review but with or without an invite I will always tell you what I honestly think.