Inside this inconspicuous little pub are wonderful foodie things…
Pub food typically offers old British favourites like pie and mash, burgers, or the classic, Ploughman’s. But in Brighton, the pubs like to be different. La Choza has taken up residency in the Hare & Hounds, serving Mexican Street Food. Temple Bar dishes out Indian Street Food from Curry Leaf Café and The Office has a Thai-run kitchen in the North Laine.
The Urchin in Hove, open for a year and a half now, works along similar lines, distinguishing itself by serving solely shellfish and an exhaustive craft beer menu from around the world. I don’t claim to know much about craft beer but based on the mile long list on offer, I suspect you’d be hard pushed not to find something you like.
It’s tucked away on Belfast Street, a residential road just off of Blatchington Road, but that doesn’t stop it from being packed full every time I’ve tried to just ‘pop in’. Inside, the converted house still harks back to its original purpose, with homely features, including fireplace and ceiling row. The decor is a minimalist nautical theme, with slate grey walls, distressed wood tables and church pew chairs. In the summer months, you’ll want to make the most of the new outside seating area, which wraps itself around the whole front of the building.
The menu is split into three simple sections, starters, mains and sides. If you have a sweet tooth you’ll have to find somewhere else to go after dinner, as there are no desserts. Instead, The Urchin offers a Cheese Board for £8.50 and suggests it’s enjoyed with either port, dessert wine or brandy. Specials such as Red Chilli Seafood Soup – £9, Cockle Pea Risotto with Sorrel Gremolata – £9 and Lobster, Garlic Butter & Salsa Verde – £29.50 are also drawn up daily.
When I visited, the description of the daily specials convinced me to order all but one of my dishes from the blackboard. The Scallops with Kohlrabi, Apple and Walnut Slaw & Mustard Cream – £14, was the sort of dish that you know you’re going to love long before the food touches your lips. Served in stunning hammered copper bowl – it’s possibly the prettiest serving of scallops I’ve seen. My eyes weren’t wrong either, perfectly seared, the scallops melted in my mouth and set off fireworks of flavour.
The Deep Fried Oysters, with Wasabi Aioli & Caramelised Onion – £9.50, also from the daily specials, were light, crispy and like a smack in the face with flavour. The Gilled Langoustines – £9.50, that followed, were messy and fiddly to eat (not really one for a first date), but worth the effort required. Fragrant, zesty and juicy, once you peeled away the exterior shell and got down to the good stuff it was delicious.
The Moules Mariniere – £9.90, was our final treat of the evening. Flavour-wise it was everything I expected, with a potent injection of garlic alongside the delicate flavour of shallots and white wine. There was also plenty of sauce to dip my side of Fries – £3, into. However, the mussels themselves were slightly on the small size, which may be a result of it being out of season when we dined.
PRICE: £45.90 for 2 people (no drinks)
RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
SCORES ON THE DOORS: 5/5 from the FSA for food hygiene
Shellfish lovers this place was made for you. I left feeling full but really wanting to devour more. The atmosphere is lively and laid-back and the food is superb, it’s definitely a “Must Go’.
Need to Know
The kitchen is closed on Monday and although walk-ins are welcome, I recommend you book a few days in advance if you want a table, as every time I’ve popped in they couldn’t fit me in.
Have you tried the Urchin? What did you think? And where do think serves the best pub food in Brighton? Leave me a comment below and share your thoughts.
*Disclaimer: I was invited to The Urchin to review so my meal with complimentary, but as always, my opinion isn’t swayed by freebies and you are getting my honest opinion on the whole experience.