Wine and dine along Brighton’s promenade
It’s the holy grail of summer holidays: finding that perfect place to eat – a tucked away taverna or trattoria, with fresh sun-drenched ingredients, views across the sea and waves lapping at the edge of the table.
New wave of restaurateurs
Back home, there’s the weather to contend with and al fresco à côté de la mer dining can be more miss than hit. Perhaps no surprise then that restaurateurs have for many years shunned the seafront in favour of town centre sites, where footfall is guaranteed whatever the weather. But happily that’s all changing thanks to the ongoing programme of seafront development, a new wave or innovative restaurateurs and a shift in attitudes towards eating out.
When I first moved to Brighton over 20 years ago, if you wanted to eat beside the sea, it was fish and chips or ice cream. Now you’re spoilt for choice.
Expertly cooked fish
There are still plenty of fish and chip shops along the front and bookending the King’s Road above are two of the city’s most established fish restaurants: the Regency House and Harry Ramsdens. The former serves fresh fish, expertly cooked at inexpensive prices, while Harry Ramsdens has been dishing fish in their famous secret recipe batter and perfectly cooked chips for over 85 years and still pulls in the punters.
‘Boat to plate’
If you want a bit of ‘boat to plate’ then Sea Haze fresh fish and shell fish stall, just opposite the Fishing Museum, sells it almost straight off the family fishing boats. Next door but one or two the Brighton Shellfish & Oyster Bar offers in excess of 20 different items from cockles and octopus to fresh oysters, ready to eat with a range of homemade sauces or to take home in one of their ‘keep it cool bags.’ Just up from the fishing quarter is the seafront branch of Riddle and Finns, a high end seafood, oyster and Champagne bar housed in the famous arches of the promenade. They have been joined by The Copper Clam further adding to the quality seafood offering on this area of the beach.
For the best views
Riddle and Finns and the nearby Fortune of War pub, which serves Pizzaface pizzas with your pint, both command great views from their al fresco terraces and cosy upstairs seating areas. But the best view has to go to the iconic beachfront Italian restaurant, Alfresco, housed in the 1950’s art deco Milkmaid Pavilion, built for the Festival of Britain, and offering contemporary Italian cuisine. From the terrace here you get pretty much 360 degree views of the city and the sea without having to steel yourself against vertigo by taking a trip up the British Airways i360 tower.
At the base of the i360, is one of the newest additions to the seafront-dining scene, Belle Vue, serving fresh cooked food using local ingredients reared, grown, caught and brewed from the areas that you can see from the i360 pod.
Close to the Belle Vue is another new Brighton restaurant from the highly successful team behind 64 Degrees, called Murmur. A more casual affair than 64 Degrees, the restaurant has seating for 40 inside and out with a much more family feel to it focusing on brunch and lunch.
Above the promenade on Kings Road there are plenty of hotel restaurants to try: from tea at the grand to social dining at Harby’s Brighton, inspired modern dishes at Drakes or modern British seafood at the Salt Room.
Famous ice cream
The queue which forms daily on the far end of the esplanade in Hove is for Marroccos famous ice cream but at the back of the parlour is small family run restaurant serving authentic Italian food and fish which is equally worth the wait.
Food near the pier
And, at the other end of town the Marina has a clutch of restaurants: Pizza Express and Zizzi to the Master Mariner and Memories of India. Here you can watch yachts chugging in and out of the harbor or sailing out to sea or head back to Brighton’s iconic pier, built to give the impression of being out at sea without actually boarding a boat. At it’s base you will find Ohso Social, a family friendly beach-bar and restaurant with a large heated outdoor terrace or head onto the pier where a plethora of kiosks offer everything from fish and chips and hot dogs to donuts and churros, plus the larger Palm Court Restaurant and Victoria’s bar which both transport you back to another era, when this was where anyone who came to Brighton was headed.
These days there’s a lot of competition. Winter might be coming but when it comes to eating out, that that’s no reason to desert the seafront.