Last Sunday I was invited to drop by The Joker for a meal and a drink. The pub, on Preston Road in Brighton, used to be Circus Circus, but in November 2014 new management took it over and gave it a smart refurb.
My expectations were high, as I’d already been to the Joker for its NYE party and had a brilliant night. I wasn’t disappointed. A table close to a roaring open fire had been reserved for me near The Orange Buffalo hatch, so I had a prime view of all the menu options coming out of the kitchen. I also noticed there were the most divine upbeat blues playing throughout the pub and putting me in a feel-good, mood.
Right, on to the important stuff. The food. Orange Buffalo is the food supplier at The Joker. The style is American diner with chicken wings and salt beef as the specialities. OB started out in Shoreditch in London, with two pals Mike So and Nick White serving from their mobile chicken wing truck. Now three years on with a permanent truck in Shoreditch and the title of the UK’s best buffalo chicken wings under their belt, they’ve branched out and landed a gig at the Joker.
Catherine my vegan friend came along with me to assist in the sampling. She opted for the veggie burger along with curly fries (because everything else had meat in). The veggie burger was rather impressive and the friendly and very passionate chef took the time to explain to me how it was made. Amazingly it takes 6 hours to prepare the day before, and all the ingredients (almonds, kidney beans, beetroot, tofu, spring onions, mushrooms and bread crumbs) are slow-roasted and dried before they are coated in egg yolk and mayo to fuse together.
As always when there’s a menu with several tempting options I asked the bar staff to recommend what they’d eat. They advised me to go for the free range chicken wings, plus one of their homemade sauces. Now, this is where it became tricky to narrow down my choices. With five sauces to choose from the only way to decide was a little pre-dinner sampling. Now I’ll let you in on a secret. If you ask very nicely you can go up to the hatch and try before you by. Which is exactly what I did.
After tasting all but the Viper sauce (which was marked with the health warning: ‘It will make you cry…’ ) and I opted for the buffalo chicken wings with chunky chips and the homemade Vincent sauce; concocted with a mango pulp, Dutch chilli & scotch bonnets. (That basically means it’s f*cking hot!)
The meal came and boy was it huge. The chicken was served in a basket alongside a yummy blue cheese dip and several sticks of celery which you definitely need to cool your mouth down after the Vincent sauce. And since celery = minus calories, every bite helps.
I couldn’t finish my wings, but that didn’t stop me trying one of the two desserts on offer. The Pecan Pie with brown bread ice cream (from Gelato Gusto in the Brighton lanes). I have to admit it was strange. But weirdly tasty and moreish…
RATING: Must Go | Worth A Try | Give It A Miss
Overall it was a really enjoyable meal and the atmosphere in the pub was the perfect Sunday come down. My only criticism would be that there’s not a vegan option on the menu. Anywhere else this wouldn’t be a big issue, but since it’s in Brighton this needs addressing. That said, the staff are so lovely there so if you ring a day ahead they can fix you up a vegan-friendly burger without the egg and mayo.
*Photos taken from The Joker
*Disclosure: My dining experience was complimentary – but this has not influenced my review of the restaurant. All views are my own.