COSMIC PIZZA: COSMIC BY NAME…
Whilst pizza seems like quite a straightforward dish – essentially a dough base smeared with tomato paste and topped with a combination of cheese, meat and veg – I can’t be the only person who is regularly underwhelmed when I dine out on this Italian staple. Surely delivering up a non-soggy, topping-crammed pizza is not tricky for a half talented chef. Yet I can count on one hand the number of decent pizzas I have consumed in UK restaurants over the years, and so it was with a sense of mild trepidation that I visited the West Hill Tavern to sample their Cosmic Pizza menu.
CENTRAL PUB WITH A LOCAL VIBE
I must admit to never setting foot inside the West Hill Tavern before. From the outside it looks like a large pub and, if I’m honest, I always found it a little intimidating in the past. However, once inside I was pleasantly surprised to find that it has a cosy vibe and feels like a local boozer, despite its central Brighton location. An atmosphere enhanced by the fact that it was quiz night when hubby and I visited on Wednesday – staple evening entertainment for a true British pub!
Management of the pub has recently changed and they haven’t followed the fad for stripped back, minimalist furnishings. Dark wood furniture and deep green velvet banquettes create a snug feel, but it doesn’t feel dark and stuffy. I expected one cavernous room, but the bar provides a natural split into two smaller areas and we were ushered away from the excitable quizzers into a comfy corner.
With a name like Cosmic Pizza I was expecting something out-of-the-ordinary (sorry!) and the menu didn’t disappoint. This is not your typical pizza offering. The common-or-garden Quattro Formaggi and Hawaiian (pineapple has NO place on a pizza, in my opinion) are replaced by the intriguingly named, music inspired Sgt Pepperoni’s Heart Club Band and Sorry Miss Jackfruit.
Tasty topping combinations also step away from the norm: who knew that pulled BBQ jackfruit existed, let alone was a worthy addition to a pizza? Two meat options; two vegetarian options and two vegan options make for a succinct but perfectly rounded menu, and all very affordable with prices from £8 – £10.50.
LET’S GET PIZZA’D
In addition to the evening menu, there’s a rather unique Bottomless Brunch pizza menu, which must be a first for Brighton. On Saturday between 11.30am & 3pm order any brunch-inspired pizza – Shakshuka gets my vote – and enjoy two hours of unlimited seasonal mimosas, prosecco and frozen marys (a Bloody Mary slushy for the uninitiated). That’s a future Saturday catch up with my girlfriends sorted!
COSMIC BY NAME …
We snacked on large, deliciously creamy olives until our pizzas of choice arrived. First impressions were favourable: the toppings were plentiful, there was a good coverage of tomato paste and the lightly singed crust showed proof that it had been wood-fired. The Moroccan-themed Baa-Baa-Rella boasted a mouth-watering toppings list of lamb, apricot & pomegranate sausage, goats cheese, roast butternut squash, harissa labneh and zhoug (I had to google it too!)
The goats cheese was creamy and melt in the mouth; bit sized chunks of perfectly cooked squash provided texture. The lamb, apricot & pomegranate sausage meat was subtly sweet and inspired my butcher husband! On the cured meat laden Meat Thyme, ribbons of mortadella and prosciutto lay draped over spheres of fennel & thyme salami. Slithers of pickled red onion and jalapenos tucked under the meat slices provided a tingle on the tongue.
Finally, pizza that was pleasurable to eat, without a soggy base or a stuffed crust in sight!
GO NUTS FOR DO-NUTS
I’m not usually one for a post-pizza dessert but couldn’t resist sampling the (vegan) do-nuts. Buttery and non-greasy, sprinkled with sugar & (secret ingredient) orange zest, and just the right size to fit in your mouth in one go. Yes – I tried. Everything you could possibly want in a donut. Served warm with a slightly chilled, tart raspberry dipping sauce.
OMG. If they offered these to take away I would be jogging up the hill from my office in my coffee break on a regular basis!
If, like me, you’ve steered clear of pizza eateries in the past, then I would highly recommend a visit to West Hill Tavern. It ticks all the boxes for an affordable midweek night out: a buzzing venue, friendly staff and that illusive, perfectly cooked pizza. Now, let’s get back to the pineapple or no pineapple debate…