Review of the Year: My best meals of 2017
Many of us begin the new year by making resolutions about things we want to stop, start, or continue doing, but I prefer to reflect and be thankful for all the good things that happened. By March 2018, I will have been blogging for 4 years and over that time the standard of the restaurants in Sussex has rocketed. So this year I’ve decided to do away with any categories I had in 2016 and simply focus on the very best places I ate in 2017. Thank you to every single chef who has cooked for me over the year and well done those who have realised a dream and opened a new restaurant, café or food business. Here they are… my best meals of the year:
Etch, Church Road, Hove
It can be hard to get the balance of fine dining with an unpretentious atmosphere, but Etch (new in March 2017) nailed it. My lunch experience here in April blew me away, with notable dishes being the chocolate tuille dessert and poached guinea hen, swaddled in ham and served with asparagus three ways.
Pike & Pine / Red Roaster, St James’s Street, Brighton
Has there has ever been a more opulent place to eat in Brighton before Pike & Pine/Red Roaster arrived? I don’t think so. Although it had some teething issues with service when it first opened, towards the end of the year it really came out the other side. Dishes are creatively and technically some of the best in the city and the surroundings elevate you to a London dining standard.
The Little Fish Market, Upper Market Street, Hove
I’d been desperate to visit The Little Fish Market for a long time, but it wasn’t until the OctoberBEST restaurant festival kicked off and there was 20% off, that I allowed myself the treat. The focus of the restaurant is fresh local, sustainable seafood, cooked simply but with meticulous attention to detail. Just as I hoped dinner was outstanding and each course trumping the previous. Most impressively Duncan, the owner, is also the sole chef preparing all the dish for the 20 cover restaurant.
Pascere, Duke’s Street, Brighton
Another fine dining establishment that hit Brighton last year was Pascere and I can still remember how good that lamb breast and pressed potato dish tasted. I really did eat very well in 2017. Decor-wise it’s gorgeous too, plush velvet seating with brass fixtures – homely but sophisticated. And the wine… worth a visit for it alone.
The Salt Room, Kings Road, Brighton
Brighton is well-known for being quirky so The Salt Room’s Afternoon Tea with a twist suits it to a tee. Inspired by the seaside, it includes tea or a G&T, Rockefeller oysters, salmon sandwiched in a squid ink bun, fried bread with camembert and sweet onion relish, as well as two tiers of sweeter treats, including the traditional scones and clotted cream. And the service… that’s as polished as the Royal Pavilion silverware.
Lost in the Lanes, Nile St. Brighton
This small independently owned café opened back in August and after numerous visits, it’s quickly become my favourite spot to eat breakfast. The ingredients are always fresh, of premium quality and the chef isn’t afraid to stray from the typical English Breakfast offering, which keeps things interesting. Full review here.
Three Stack at The Square, Brighton
Three Stack duo Ben & Russel make the best buttermilk pancakes I’ve ever tasted and you can catch them at The Square on Saturday mornings 9am-1pm. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I had the apple and cinnamon special and I’m willing to bet you will too if you check it out.
Lickle More, Haddington Street, Hove
Fine dining is always a wonderful treat but I’m from a family of home cooks and I love good honest, comfort food. The Lickle More food truck is just this and my go-to happy food. For an authentic Caribbean food experience head behind the big Tesco in Hove and order the tender curried goat with fluffy rice, a side of fried dumplings and a can of Ting.
BeFries, West Street, Brighton
Don’t be put off by the position of this joint – West Street has never had better food talent. I’ve also been to Belgium and had Belgian Frites (it was the sole purpose of the trip) and I’m willing to be bold and say BeFries‘ Belgian frites are better. It’s not just the soft fluffy centre and crispy outer shell that makes these chips taste so moreish, it’s the array of homemade saucy dips that can be paired together with them that puts these chips a league of its own.
Cin Cin, Vine Street, Brighton
Have you ever dreamt about something you’ve eaten because it was THAT good? If you haven’t, perhaps you need to visit Cin Cin and order the rabbit croquet. Every time, I look at the photo of this dish my stomach makes a little gurgling noise in pleasure. Packed full of creamy meat and encased in a crisp breadcrumb it’s a melting moment of bliss. The success of this establishment is such that a second Hove branch will open in January 2018. I’ll be testing it out on the 17th Jan so check back for the full report on this.
The Half Moon, Glasshouse Lane, Kirdford
Just under an hour’s drive from Brighton is a cosy, gastronomic pub that I’m head of heels with. Starters of pigeon breast with pickled redcurrants and g&t cured trout will excite the taste buds and the professional service will leave you coming back for more. Full review here.
Outlaw’s at The Capital, Basil Street, London
Sometimes I can hardly believe the opportunities that come to me through blogging, and winning a meal for 2 at Nathan Outlaw’s Michelin starred restaurant was one of those occasions. Tom Brown was the head chef at the time and his menu, formed with British seafood caught predominantly around the coast of Cornwall, was completely out of this world. The lunchtime set menu can be booked for just £29 for 2 courses or £33 for 3 courses – that’s serious value for money. Watch out for Tom’s forthcoming restaurant ‘Corner Stone’, opening in Hackney in the spring.
Sorbillo in Naples
I went to Naples for my birthday in May and I set myself a mission… find the best pizza in the city. We were only there for 4 days but at every opportunity I had, I tried a new spot. All the pizzas in Naples were heavenly but one place stood out – artisan pizzeria Sorbillo. I only had a classic margarita but it was so good that I had to go back for lunch again the next day and do it all over again – yes I did the 40-minute queue TWICE!
So over to you now, where did you have your best meals in 2017 and what restaurants are on your hit list for next year? Let me know in the comments box below.