The Ginger Dog, Brighton – Restaurant Review
If you’re a local in Brighton it’s highly unlikely you’ve not heard of The Ginger Group of restaurants and pubs. But in case you haven’t, there’s The Ginger Dog up in Kemptown, The Ginger Pig in Hove, and the flagship restaurant, The Gingerman (in central Brighton). Plus, if you’re happy to venture out of town, there’s also The Ginger Fox, in Hassocks (which I know well from when I lived there).
The Ginger Group is owned and run independently by husband and wife Ben and Pamela McKellar, who have been in the restaurant business for 20 years and as a result, have heaps of experience making foodies like me very happy.
Very soon there will be fifth addition to the their portfolio – The Flint House – which is currently being renovated in the old Hanningtons Estate site, in the centre of town and is due to open on the 19th April 2019.
Seasonal British dishes
As well as serving up some of the best seasonal, British cuisine I’ve eaten in Sussex, the owners are also just darn lovely folk who personally support other budding restaurants by visiting them and promoting them on social media.
Though I could sing the praises of all the restaurants and pubs in the group, it’s the Ginger Dog gastropub, that’s the subject of my review today. It sits right in the heart of Kemptown, close to The Royal Sussex Hospital and has recently had a little spruce up and menu revamp.
Now it may look like a normal pub from the outside but don’t be fooled – the food and service are in line with any of the top restaurants in Brighton.
A new look
Just like your favourite local public house, The Ginger Dog feels cosy, comfortable and inviting. The interior is divided up into sections, with a mix of mahogany wooden tables and chairs, high top bar stools and banquette seating. Plus, there’s a roaring fire kicking out heat on the colder days.
Poke your head around the back of the bar and you’ll spot a whole another area which is perfect for bigger groups. There’s also some gorgeous illustrated wallpaper behind a forest green velvet curtain back there – a new addition since the refurbishment.
The new menu is the work of Head Chef, Andy Hall, (who cut his teeth at The Ginger Pig over a number of years) and includes a number of snack-like dishes, as well as a full sit-down à la carte menu.
After my tips on what to order? My first recommendation is the whipped cod roe (£3) from the snacks section. It’a rich and intense flavour with a mousse-like consistency, and comes served on top of a thick slice of squidgy fresh focaccia.
Hate cauliflower? You may have to think again after trying the one on the menu here (£3.50). This humble vegetable takes on a new lease of life when it’s fried as opposed to boiled to death (my experience of it for far too long). This snack has a satisfying crunch and the smoked paprika seasoning it’s coated in makes for a moreish snack.
Onto starters and the roasted quail (£9.50) is an absolute must. It’s a dish that’s beautiful to look at but even better to eat, with deliciously crispy skin and perfectly moist meat. The quail takes centre stage in this dish, positioned on top of crisp chicory leaves and sprinkled with red pomegranate jewels that deliver sweet bursts of juice to compliment the mild bitterness from the chicory. This is a starter that could not have been tastier if it tried.
There’s also a specials board on the wall that you don’t want to miss and when I dined, we picked up the crispy beef croquettes (£7.50) from here as our other starter. Accompanied with a punchy garlic puree and vivid green Chimichurri, the meat inside these scrumptious balls was heartily rich and so tender it fell apart as my knife sliced through it.
Continuing to mains and I opted for lemon sole (£19.50), which came accompanied with sautéed potatoes and al dente Tenderstem broccoli. I thought this dish had such understated elegance, served in a light buttery shrimp sauce that allowed the delicate, sweet flavour of the fish to shine without overpowering it.
Our final course before sweets was the stunning roast duck breast (£19) and a favourite of the day for me. Cooked slightly pink with salt baked celeriac, underneath a bed of shredded winter cabbage, topped with pickled rhubarb and a redcurrant jus. Every forkful of this plate somehow felt more delicious than the last.
Desserts to save room for
By now we were stuffed to the point where we could hardly move but the sweets menu was too good to miss. The moist banana bread with salt caramel sauce and malt ice cream (£8) called to me and I’m glad it did because it was out of this world. It was very closely followed in rank by the peanut butter parfait with a sweet raspberry coulis, served along with a trio of warm chocolate brownie cubes and a sprinkling of praline crumb (£8.50).
With an ever-growing number of restaurants in Brighton, this is somewhere that can easily be forgotten on the outskirts of the city. However, it shouldn’t. Whether you’re after a fine glass of wine accompanied by a few small bites to eat or, a full-blown sit-down dinner, The Ginger Dog deserves your attention. Having been here three times now and found it to be consistently good I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. As you might expect from people who have been in the business this long and staff that are passionate about their work, it shows in every plate.
PRICE: £78.50 for 3 courses and snacks for 2 people (without alcohol).
RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
Need to know
The Ginger Dog offers roasts on Sundays and welcomes families and dogs. There’s also a private room for hire upstairs. Plus, I’m told there’s a cracking new dish on the menu with Hake, mussels and a kerlan curry sauce that’s a must try!
The Ginger Dog
12 College Place, Brighton BN2 1HN
What’s your verdict? Have you been to The Ginger Dog and how does it compare to the rest of its sister restaurants and pubs?
*Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at The Ginger Dog with a guest but I will always say when things aren’t up to scratch.
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