Brighton attracts the alternative
Brighton definitely takes centre stage when it comes to all things cool. ‘Anything goes’ sums up the eccentricity of this seaside hub, oozing with life.
Once upon a time, the stag do set were the Saturday night staple here, meal deals and cheap mixers kept droves of last-chance-saloon-seekers satisfied. But that was so 2012…
Over the last few years Brighton has nurtured some of the most innovative independent restaurants and bars in the UK. Diners have embraced the city’s rapidly developing food and drink scene, drawing tourists and locals out to see and be seen.
Keeping Preston Park on the radar for seekers of all things cool is Upstairs at The Joker. Roomy and light with plush velvet seating and a hand carved rosewood bar; it is a little bit of refined elegance in an otherwise crazy part of town. Open Fridays and Saturdays from 6 pm-1 am serving up the winning combination of cocktails and jazz. Adjoining the cocktail bar and open daily is the Games Room with darts and a pool table for some peace and quiet with your recreation.
The cool: Poise is the best pose.
Gungho Bar is decked out in exposed brick with a reclaimed wood bar and neon signs; they bring seasonality and sustainability to the cocktail scene. Foraging and harvesting many of the ingredients and brewing their own botanicals each cocktail from the seasonal board is only around for as long as the harvest lasts, so you might miss out on the cocktail of a lifetime if your finger isn’t on the pulse.
The cool: the ‘you had to be there’ factor.
Another of the new kids in up and coming Preston Street is Kujira. Sharp looks and excellent taste mix in this Japanese robatayaki grill and izakaya bar, serving up marinaded meats and exclusive cocktails. Downstairs there’s an additional bar and karaoke come games room.
The cool: check out the loos, seriously.
Nothing is cooler than knowing the secret little gems in a city, tucked away on Kensington Gardens is a totally missable door that will lead you to the speakeasy style bar L’Atelier du Vin. Here you’ll find an eclectic lounge of mismatched furniture, knowledgeable friendly staff and easily the most extensive wine list in Brighton, if you’re worried about losing credibility for not knowing your wines don’t worry, there’s always a sommelier on hand. Head up to the roof terrace for stunning views of the North Laine and in winter blow people’s minds by introducing them to the roof igloo. Located above the recently revived and now highly regarded Grow 40.
The cool: ‘Oh, I know this great little place’
Good wine isn’t snobby and inaccessible it’s fun and social; that’s the philosophy of Ten Green Bottles who seek out wine from small producers to offer a drop of something that you won’t find in the supermarkets. The experts here can match you with wine that is perfect for your pallet, and as an off-license you can walk away with an affordable bottle too.
The cool: private wine tasting.
Tucked away in an unassuming side street in Hove sits this Seafood gem. Esteemed chef, Duncan Ray of Fat Duck fame prides his 20 cover restaurant on food so fresh the menu is solely dependant on what the fishmonger catches that day. If you are lucky enough to nab a table here you’ll no doubt be salivating over 5 courses of seafood perfection with Brighton’s only venue to boast 3 AA Rosettes. See all the Brighton venues with a rosette here.
The cool: Impress and be impressed by this diamond in Brighton’s dining crown.
Small Batch is nearly as iconic as the Royal Pavillion from which they have fashioned their brand. Dotted about Brighton, Hove and now Worthing Small Batch Coffee gets it right by being that balance of serious about coffee and relaxed about almost everything else. With success comes responsibility so from forming relationships with growers to what they do with used coffee grounds and recycling paper cups Small Batch make being kind cool. Pictured – Small Batch Coffee in Portslade-by-sea.
The cool: hipster fuel.
Dining out doesn’t get much better than this. Long hailed as the pinnacle of cool restaurants in Brighton, 64 Degrees contrasts the simplicity of it’s interior with the truly superb intricate execution of each dish. Tipped to be the first Brighton restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star, this place is an absolute must. Recent winner of best restaurant at the BRAVO awards for the second year. Read our interview with Michael Bremner.
The cool: Watch your dish come to life during a serious bit of food theatre if you dine at the pass.
Serving a simple French bistro-inspired menu with seasonal and local produce matched with organic, low intervention wines and a playlist that keeps the atmosphere light and tow tapping. Plateau is the destination for anyone who likes their evenings laid back but quality.
The cool: laissez fair everything.
You would be forgiven for momentarily thinking you had been transported to the back streets of Venice upon entering Polpo on New Road. Here is a winning formula of rustic shabby chic where a stripped back look is a backdrop for great wines, spritz and sharing plates of Italian style tapas. Meet the Polpo executive chef. James Brown.
The cool: Understated and effortless cool.
The mighty Salt Room has etched quite the reputation since opening it’s doors. Producing plates of food that excite even the most jaded diner. To top that, things just got a whole lot more interesting over at this seaside haunt with the introduction of their seafood Afternoon Tea ‘The Taste of the Pier.’ Executed with the attention to detail and flare that The Salt Room has become famous for, this is not to be missed.
The cool: Kitsch-cool with candy floss making an appearance on the afternoon tea menu
Planet India’s second venue in Hove offers a much larger space and fun atmosphere for lovers of authentic Gujarati cuisine and those frustrated at never being able to get a table at the Brighton restaurant. Owner Nilesh can often be found wandering around barefoot in the restaurant greeting diners like old friends (if you’re not one yet, you will be), telling stories and cracking jokes.
The cool: irreverent and self-mocking, the menu is a hoot!
Sink into the dark leather banquet seats with a glass of Argentina’s finest. Cafe Malbec’s extensive selection of wines are perfectly teamed with the house speciality: Empanadas. This Argentine casa is the only place you will find such a dish in Brighton. For authentic South American vibes, you can’t beat an evening at Malbec’s mercy. Have a look at their latest video feature on Argentinian wines.
The cool: Argentinian Malbec – and plenty of it! Come on, that’s what red wine dreams are made of.
Retro. One of a kind. All day breakfast goodness. This place ticks all of the boxes when it comes to earning the prominent ‘Lanes’ stripes. Individuality is paramount here. Each Breakfast Club restaurant is individually themed and Brighton got the 80’s makeover – with fabulous results! Indulge in pancakes or eggs ‘Benny’ all day if you wish, and why not slosh it down with a expertly shaken cocktail while you’re at it.
The cool: Students get 15% off food and drink ALL DAY! Dust off that NUS card pronto…
With an enviable position along Brighton’s famous seafront, HarBAR is an altogether sophisticated choice for cocktail indulgence. This award-winning new bar not only hosts an array of indulgent cocktails, but invites their guests to design their own. The skilled mixologists guide you and your tastebuds in ‘The Dealer’s Choice’. What a concept! The elegant, plush surroundings are echoed in the bar menu: seaweed salted fries make the perfect aperitif accompaniment.
The cool: Inventing brand new cocktails for your tastebuds only…
The undersell is a sure way to earn cool points. Take Social Board Brighton on St James’ Street for example, sure it looks like a sandwich shop, smells like a sandwich shop because truth is it is a sandwich shop, but what sandwiches! There signature sandwiches and sides are all prepared with organic top quality ingredients and pure artistry. Ingredients are marinated for days in advance, cooked perfectly and matched with an inspired combination of pickles, salads and sauces. The secret here is that the team come from a background of working in some top Brighton and international restaurants and that expertise is poured into every freshly made sandwich.
The cool: invite someone out for a sandwich, play it low, and watch their world change.
If you’re after exclusive, dive off the main strip at Churchill Square and head to Regency Square, find the beautiful boutique Hotel Una, then go to its bar, then go through that bar to its downstairs Speak Easy. This is a space where the craft of bartending is celebrated and stories are made. Lose yourself here for hours whilst Pietro and his team educate and entertain their ‘guests’ rather than their ‘customers’, and if you’re particular about your cocktails they’ll even keep a copy of your perfect recipe behind the bar, ready for your return.
The cool: bespoke cocktails in an underground secret location.
If shellfish and craft beers float your boat, then this will be your new favourite hang out. The Urchin offers over a staggering 100 craft beers, many of which are from the local area. Feast on lobster, prawns and crab in the cosy steely grey interior and ponder over which pint to wash it all down with. Brave it may be to focus a venue so specifically, but we all love a rebel, so much so The Urchin won BRAVO 2018 ‘Best pub grub’ award
The cool: The niche factor.
With an almost fanatical following, MOSHIMO is a Japanese restaurant seen by many in the city as a Brighton institution. It’s the city’s original conveyor-belt sushi bar serving handmade and sustainable sushi with a hot food menu that keeps its predominantly local clientele both regular and staunchly loyal.
The cool: In good weather make the most of their outside seating – it’s the closest thing to Tokyo you’ll get in Brighton!
This NY cum LA style diner is acclaimed nationally as one of the coolest places to hang out. Wall to ceiling images of iconic NY fire escapes and graffitied streets works perfectly with the panoramic views over Brighton’s decaying West Pier, giving a grungy indie feel. The food is again American diner themed but with serious good quality and locally sourced produce, craft ales and unique cocktails; this is a club you’ll want to be in on.
The cool: NY edge meets Brighton chill is a cocktail set to be a classic.