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English’s of Brighton: A Taste of History, Freshness, and Tradition

When Facebookers post Old Brighton photos in those ‘window to the past’ groups, English’s is often in shot. Photos of passers-by sporting the fashions of the era are in full view – from post-war women in billowing skirts to men hobbling in Sixties-style heeled boots and Beatles-inspired collarless jackets. The restaurant is a Brighton institution and has survived since the 1890s. It’s been managed by the same family since 1945 but today it exudes a palpable sense of new life while retaining its charm. 

Assistant Manager Manu, who looked after us the evening we visited, possesses that welcome balance between formal and friendly. He knows his stuff and is more than happy to recommend wine from their extensive list to accompany the array of fishy fancies on the menu which are fresh and lovingly prepared, as we discovered.

seating area of English's of Brighton

We were seated at what’s known as the ‘Churchill Table’, nodding to the window booth where the WWII leader once dined. There are murals on the wall that conjure the past, whispering English’s history as you munch (previous family owners are depicted). The seafood is as good as any we’ve tried in Brighton, and there isn’t a hint of stuffiness or outdatedness – far from it.

The word is: your oyster

Whether you consider oysters to be nutrition-packed shells of joy or an aphrodisiac for date night, English’s does them in so many ways that the world is indeed your oyster. There are cooked options (Kilpatrick, Rockefeller and battered), Bloody Mary and Brighton Gin versions. We opted to gulp down a Rock and a Native each, which were elegantly served on ice with mignonette, tabasco and lemon. Juicy, plump, and sweet/salty, they slipped down a treat. And ‘treat’ is a word that was muttered often during our meal. 

four oysters served on gray bowl filled with ice at English's of Brighton

A sharing platter that’s too good to share

There’s a warm, enveloping feeling at English’s. It’s a nice place to be, and the aroma of freshly prepared seafood is enticing. The hot sharing platter was presented as something of a trophy – a gleaming silver tray brimming with goodies. We’d won the catch of the day, perhaps. But it seems so had everyone else. 

Warm sharing fish platter at English's of Brighton

Sweet, seared scallops cooked perfectly – juicy inside and a touch of crisp out – and tiger prawns that delivered a dose of divine deliciousness. They were joined by a generous whole baked sea bass oozing with buttery melt-in-mouthness that flaked off the skeleton, and monkfish served with the bone still in (which we understand retains the flavour). A halibut fillet with crispy skin and succulent flesh. A bowl of salty clams and mussels marinières that bulged in their shells and let loose on your tongue. It was a sensual experience. 

Manu suggested a Sicilian white wine to go with the meal and it suited spot-on. He is proud of the restaurant and exudes passion. Rightly so – English’s has a place in the fabric of Brighton and is now 2024-ready for a new generation of diners keen to sample what decades of fish-expertise can serve up. 

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Getting there
Map for English’s of Brighton
29-31 East Street, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1HL
There is clearly signed ramp access. Designated parking for disabled diners is available within 50 metres of the restaurant entrance.
Opening Hours

Monday 12:00pm9:00pm

Tuesday 12:00pm9:00pm

Wednesday 12:00pm9:00pm

Thursday 12:00pm9:00pm

Friday 12:00pm9:30pm

Saturday 12:00pm9:30pm

Sunday 12:00pm9:00pm