A Welcoming Escape From The Cold!
Brighton Food Reviewer, Georgie Luxford, March 2016
Since seeing that Havana had up sticks to pastures new and No.32 had taken over the premises I had been keen to visit for some time to see how the building and menu had changed. It didn’t disappoint.
The building from the outside is still as grand and elegant as it was albeit in a dark shade of grey now, and interior is just the same. It still has that colloquial feel to the place with large wooden shutters, old black and white aero‐ nautical pictures and large ceiling fans.
Light And Airy
The place is huge with two smaller private areas at the front in the windows, a large central dining atrium plus additional seating upstairs on a gallery that circles the lower floor giving the restaurant a light and airy feel. In additional to all this there is also more casual seating to the rear of the building together with a second bar – I bet this place rocks on at the weekend!!
My friend and I visited one very raining, blustery and cold weekday in February for lunch and on entering I was worried that the place would feel just as cold as it was outside due to its size, height and dark colour, but we sat in a cosy corner and soon forgot about the grimness outside.
A Venue For Everyone
There were already a few groups of diners eating and it was nice to see a real mix of people from the young mums with pushchairs and toddlers in tow having a quick burger, a couple of young ladies catching up over a bottle of Prosecco, to a trio of business men working through their lunch.
The menu is a tale of two halves: to the left is their Casual menu serving brunch items, a great selection of burgers and various salad dishes. To the right is their grill menu serving a selection of steaks that have been dry aged for a minimum of 28 days and are all served with slow roasted tomato and salad. There are also a couple more burgers and fish dishes that include a half or whole lobster, sea bream or roast cod.
For starters my friend chose Salt and Pepper Squid with Singapore sauce (£6.50), it was amazing and the dish was enormous. The batter was light and fluffy and at first you don’t get the pepper but then it comes through just at the end. The Singapore sauce was divine and a great compliment to the dish it had just the right amount of kick to it that I doubt would offend anyone and just like the pepper in the squid batter, the lime in this sauce came through right at the end.
In addition to all this the dish also came with a salad of cabbage, kale and crispy onions – it was superb and added great texture to the whole plate.
Light, Subtle And Beautiful
I opted for the Cured Salmon, Wasabi cream, shallot rings, watercress and apple (£7.00) as my starter. Although a much more delicate dish than the squid the cuts of the salmon were still not small, they were lovely and thick and had been cured in such a way that it didn’t over power any of the other elements on the plate. With the wasabi cream and watercress I was expecting a real punch with every bite and the flavours competing each other but what I actually got was a light, subtle and beautiful plate of food.
Well Matched Flavours
For her main course my friend opted for the Salmon burger, cornichons, parsley, aioli, calamari (£11.00). Served on a large rustic board with a small side of home made fries – this burger was big! The way that the salmon had been flaked and then moulded with the herbs and sauce gave the burger a real homemade feel.
The bun had been lightly toasted and there was a small amount of salad within the burger adding a good crunch.
The squid was a welcome surprise however I have to say that although my friend enjoyed the dish and thought that the flavours went well – nothing really stood out for her.
I decided upon the Roast Cod, mussels, chorizo, new potatoes, samphire (£17.00), the dish looked stunning when it arrived with the vibrant colours of the chorizo and samphire really standing out on the white backdrop of cod and potatoes. The taste was pretty amazing too with the saltiness of the chorizo being offset by the buttered new potatoes.
The cod was cooked to perfection and the texture of the roasted skin was fantastic.
The mussels were large, juicy and full of flavour. The samphire was nice – but with so much of it on the plate, it was very difficult to eat. Some of the storks had also been left on which were incredibly touch and inedible, but all in all a beautiful light, flavoursome dish.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Incredibly after all this wonderful food we were still tempted by the dessert menu! My friend went for the classic (and her favourite) Sticky Toffee Pudding, white chocolate ice cream, toffee sauce (£6.00). The sponge was light, bouncy and cooked to perfection. The rich toffee sauce she thinks had biscuits in which gave the dish a good crunch. As it often is with this classic dessert they can be far too sweet but it was just right for my friend, so much so that she gave it 10 out of 10. High praise indeed from someone so fussy!!
Rich And Decadent
I chose to have the Passion Fruit Cheesecake, dark chocolate sorbet, passion fruit jelly (£6.50). Now, the way that the dessert is worded I was expecting the passion fruit jelly to be separate to the cheesecake, but it was in fact the fruit layer on top – a given I would’ve assumed. However, it was stunning and gave just the right amount of sharpness to offset the thick, creamy cheesecake. The biscuit base was chunky and wonderfully crunchy. And then there was the dark chocolate sorbet – words cannot describe how wonderfully rich and decadent this was, a perfect end to a wonderful meal.
Reluctant To Leave!
Having whiled away a good 2 hours in there, we were quite reluctant to leave. The staff were great and very attentive without you being aware of them the whole time. The building itself had a wonderfully relaxed feel and we both certainly felt a lot less stressed when we were back outside in the cold – although the rain had stopped and the wind had eased!
So all in all an amazing lunch out, and definitely one that we wish to repeat.