For all the roast aficionados in Brighton, just a mere whisper of The Cleveland Arms is enough to stir feelings of delight and an undeniable appetite. To those unfamiliar (shame on you!) The Cleveland Arms is a beautiful, traditional, family-run pub, on the edge of Blaker’s Park, which serves knockout food 7-days a week. This culminates in one of the best Sunday roasts money can buy anywhere in Brighton.
Why, exactly, am I mentioning this superb establishment when writing about the newly reopened Chimney House pub in Prestonville? Good question, allow me to explain…
Introducing Jamie & Sarah: The Dream Team
In 2017, couple Jamie and Sarah took over The Cleveland Arms, adding to it their magic charm which has elevated the place into a true classic of the Brighton food-scene. In Early November 2023, they became the new proprietors of The Chimney House, a local’s pub for the people of Prestonville.
Having spent the previous six years building up The Cleveland (not to mention adapting the pub to survive Covid, opening an event’s business and raising two children) they are well prepared to hit the ground running at The Chimney House. When I visited, it had been open for less than 3 weeks, not that anyone could have guessed. The interior, service and – most importantly – food was all spot-on. Talking of food, let’s get into it.
Cold Wind, Hot Cheese
When I woke up on the morning of my trip to The Chimney House, my phone warned me that it was 0.5C outside and there was to be a chance of snow. Sure, a warm coat and gloves would be sensible for a day like this but, above all, a starter of baked Tunworth cheese is the perfect remedy. Served with a sticky, sweet caramelised onion chutney and plenty of toast, it set the tone for what would turn into a wonderfully autumnal feast.
We also chose the ham hock and cheddar croquettes which were beautifully made and packed with flavour, complemented with a fresh salsa of tomato, red onion and basil to help keep the dish balanced.
When eating hot cheese, one is often presented with the issue of whether to go for red or white wine. On this occasion, I went with owner Sarah’s recommendation for a beautifully chilled glass of Sea Change Pinot Grigio, a crisp and refreshing wine with bucket-loads of citrus zest to help keep the palate clean. Looking at the carefully curated wine list at The Chimney House, I was confident that I would be in safe hands with anything I was presented with.
Eating for the Season
Having decided that this meal was to be a rich, comforting antidote to the bracing weather outside, we leaned into the seasonal flavours by choosing the Confit Duck and the Pearl Barley Risotto.
The Confit Duck stole the show with its perfect balance of crispiness and tenderness. Nestled on a cassoulet that boasted the profound richness of duck, pork and herbs, every bite was a symphony of savoury delights. In a noble attempt to inject a hint of healthiness into our meal, we also opted for a side of winter greens – though the generous helping of butter amongst the kale may have veered us slightly off the virtuous path.
If the meal hadn’t already confirmed the time of year, the Pearl Barley Risotto with caramelised onion, squash, sage and hazelnut oil sealed the deal. It was autumn in a bowl, and simply delicious. These are time-tested flavours which work beautifully well, but the inclusion of that hazelnut oil really kicked things up a gear and added a wonderful nutty depth to the dish.
Sticky Toffee Weather
To my knowledge, I have never willingly turned down the offer of dessert and I certainly wouldn’t consider breaking this rule when sticky toffee pudding is on the menu. It was, quite simply, everything that you could want from a dessert – rich, dark, buttery toffee sauce, a cake which is somehow both airy and gooey at the same time and, of course, some vanilla ice cream to “cut through the fat” (I realise the dreadful irony of this long-standing phrase I have used when talking about vanilla ice cream).
Alongside this, we also tried the chocolate torte topped with fresh raspberries and lashings of caramel sauce. The torte itself was a butter pastry case, densely filled with a rich chocolate ganache which was, quite frankly, great fun to eat. I was even courageous enough to steal a large portion while my companion was away from the table. Unfortunately, this did not go unnoticed…
Before succumbing to the urge to lie down in the comfortable booth where I had enjoyed my meal, I knocked back a quick espresso and we made our way back out into the wintery streets of Brighton.
A Winning Formula
Jamie and Sarah have spent years crafting a model that works for a local, family-friendly pub which doesn’t compromise on quality when it comes to food, drink and service. Fortunately for us punters, they are now starting to roll out that winning formula across Brighton, bringing great dining to a whole new neighbourhood.
What these two have managed to achieve with The Chimney House, in a mere three weeks, is truly impressive. I can only wonder at the things they will have done after three months, or even three years. Fortunately, I won’t be left wondering, as I believe I’ve just uncovered my new go-to spot. Cheers to The Chimney House and the promise of many more delightful experiences to come!