Meet Brighton Food Reviewer, Laura Stevens

Laura has been eating food for over 40 years and has rather developed a taste for it. She consumes cookery programs and recipe books and, it turns out, she’s not too shabby in the kitchen herself.

She was born in Brighton but was soon whisked off to travel around England and France by her bohemian mother and didn’t return to Brighton until she flew the nest at 18.

She has now lived here all of her adult life, along with the rest of the people who thought they were just coming to Brighton to go to university but never left (“What can I say,  Brighton rocks!”).

Laura particularly enjoys spicy, highly flavoured foods such as Indian and Moroccan cuisine but is also a great fan of simple, vibrant Mediterranean fare and, of course, firmly believes you can’t go far wrong with classic British cooking!

Favourite restaurant in Brighton and why?

Currently my favourite restaurant is Hotel Du Vin in Brighton. It is certainly not cheap but it is the perfect setting for a special anniversary treat. The décor is beautiful with plenty of highly polished, dark wood and shimmering, reflective surfaces.

The high ceilings and generously spaced tables make it feel airy and opulent and the whole restaurant is intimately lit with antique fixtures and candles. More importantly, you’d be hard pressed to find a better plate of Moules Frites in Paris itself! Mouth-watering food in classy surroundings. Save up your pennies, wear your finest and enjoy every moment.

Lounge area at Hotel Du Vin Brighton

What’s important when you visit a restaurant?

It goes without saying that good food is the priority.

Quality, seasonal, local produce prepared with love by people who really care about food. However, eating out is not cheap and you are paying for more than just food in your belly.

It doesn’t have to be the Ritz but basic cleanliness goes a long way..

There’s nothing like a sticky table to put you off your fajita.

You also need enough space to be able to relax and have a relatively private conversation without having to move your chair every five minutes so another diner can get to the loo.  And finally, the service should be polite and helpful but not overly cloying, a simple smile goes a long way.

Which is your favourite well-known chef and why?

I have two favourite chefs at the moment and they couldn’t be more different.

On the one hand there is Tom Kerridge. A great, jolly giant of a man and an unapologetic carnivore whose food speaks to the soul!

I have been lucky enough to visit The Hand and Flowers, his flagship pub in beautiful Marlow (the only pub in the UK to have been awarded two Michelin stars) and it was a truly visceral treat.

If you’ve got the time (and I mean several days), try making his Jacob’s Ladder (beef rib) recipe from his book Proper Pub Food. It is to die for!

Yotam Ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi

At the other extreme stands Yotam Ottolenghi. A tall, softly-spoken, instantly likeable guy who is an advocate for all things Middle Eastern and Mediterranean.

His food is eclectic, fresh, colourful and truly delicious.

He is not vegetarian but loves vegetables and has a knack for making them the star of the show. His book Plenty is a must if you have vegetarian friends (trust me, they’ll thank you for it). If you make nothing else, try his aubergine croquettes with tarragon aioli, yum!