Meet Brighton Food Reviewer, Jodie Wallis

Jodie Wallis - Brighton Food Reviewer
Jodie

I was raised in a tiny hamlet about 15 minutes north of Brighton; surrounded by the Sussex Downs, National Trust Woodland, and local farmland.

My Dad is what you might call a ‘hunter gatherer’ type. This is probably one of the reasons I have grown up with a deep sense of appreciation for local, fresh and quality food.

We’ve always had chickens in our garden, so fresh eggs in the morning; wild game every Sunday and locally caught fish every Friday.

‘Eat like kings’ is not an uncommon phrase in our household.

However, I can’t give all the credit to my Dad for my passion and ‘eye’ for good quality food; my Mum also plays a big part. She has taught me from a young age the importance of presentation as well as quality. Her main rule when dishing up a meal? Never put the same colour food next to each other!

Which is your favourite restaurant?

Though a challenging question, my favourite restaurant has got to be Baloo’s, an unpretentious ‘gastro’ pub in rural Albourne, West Sussex.

I love it here. The food is always of exceptional quality, with obvious thought and creativity put into the dishes which all contain local, seasonal ingredients.

Balloos bar and restaurant in Albourne, Sussex
Baloos restaurant & Bar Henfield

The atmosphere is almost as relaxed as being in your own living room with that dash of subtle opulence that you want when you eat out.

The staff are so warm and welcoming you actually feel as if you already know them. As a family, we now genuinely do feel that way which is one of the many reasons we keep going back.

Another unique draw to this place is their monthly ‘theme’ nights. Each month they create a 5-7 course menu based on a particular cuisine.

The dishes are small like tapas, and each one is matched with a particular wine tasting. All for 35 quid. A novel and satisfying culinary experience.

Favourite Dish?

It’s hard to pick my favourite food dish, as I am one of those people who wholeheartedly believe that ‘variety is the spice of life’.

House Restaurant, Brighton
Favourite Dish

However, whenever I go out for dinner and there’s steak on the menu I always feel more drawn to it over other dishes.

It’s hard to explain why as I’m also a lover of fish and seafood, and love vegetarian dishes too. The carnivore in me just seems to win more often than not!

I love the fact that you can eat steak very simply with garlic butter and fries, or you can dress it up with rich sauces and sides.

I usually prefer my steak simple with a bit of black pepper mingling with the natural juices, however one of my favourite accompaniments which I made at a family birthday dinner once was blue cheese and herb stuffed Portobello mushrooms. Yes. You have to try it, meat eater or not.

What things matter to you when eating out?

As a 30 something who’s had experience of waitressing since she was 15, I definitely notice ‘the little things’ when I’m visiting a restaurant. It’s these little things that matter the most to me.

The genuine smile of the staff who greets and seats you, the rustic candle on the table in a vintage looking wine bottle or the offer of olives to start whilst you peruse the menu.

I guess you could say these ‘little things’ are a lot to do with the service:

the way the meal is presented to you and the environment it’s presented in. Although I know from experience that it’s a team effort, you can make up for a lot when you serve it well.

I would much prefer to eat a mediocre quality meal which is presented by genuinely warm and natural staff who take the time to find out what it is you want.

Something I’ve learnt in my time working in restaurants is to do just that: find out what each table wants. Don’t assume every table wants the same kind of dining experience.