Meet Restaurants Brighton Reviewer & Travel Writer Lucy Grewcock
Cooking has always been a big part of my life. From an early age, my Mum was always keen to get me and sister involved in the kitchen as much as possible – she was determined to make sure that we had all the basics nailed, from cakes and casseroles to the perfect white sauce. Working in restaurants throughout my teens and twenties really added to my passion for good food – I loved learning how to prepare and present different dishes, as well as taste my way through the menus!
Travel has really helped to broaden my horizons when it comes to food. Whether it’s a rustic meal in an Alpine lodge or sampling street-food in Bangkok or Shanghai, I love trying new cuisines, different cooking styles and exciting food experiences. I work partly as a travel writer, so tasting new flavours is a real highlight of the job.
Which is your favourite restaurant in the Brighton area and why?
There are so many great places to eat in Brighton that, just when I think I know all the best ones, somewhere new will open or I’ll discover another gem – like The Jetty on the seafront, or Holy Phok on Church Road. But while I love finding new favourites, there are certain restaurants that I’ve been going back to for years: Plateau and the Chilli Pickle are my top choices for a weekend treat, the Lion & Lobster is my go-to place for pub dining, and I love sitting outside at Archipelagos on a sunny summer’s day.
Which is your favourite food dish or genre of cuisine and why?
I’m a big fan of fresh fish, as well as local and seasonal produce, so I’ll often opt for Sussex seafood if it’s on the menu. There’s definitely an art behind perfectly cooked fish, and I’ve always found that Riddle & Finns do a great job.
Although I’m not a vegetarian, veggie food is another favourite of mine. When a chef can impress you with carrots and broccoli, you know they’re good – for me, Terre a Terre is the ultimate example of this.
Game also rates highly on my list of favourite foods, as do fresh Asian flavours like sushi and Vietnamese dishes. Lastly, you can’t beat a good curry – Chilli Pickle is my Indian restaurant of choice or, for takeaway, it’s got to be Nishat Tandoori on Preston Street.
What areas are of great importance to you when you visit a restaurant?
Relaxed, sociable atmospheres appeal to me most – I’m not a huge fan of starched tablecloths and overly formal dining. The lighting has to be right too – stark lighting can really ruin an atmosphere.
The people are hugely important too – food always tastes better when you warm to a restaurant owner or the waiting staff, and it can swing the other way if service is bad. One of the best experiences I’ve had was at Makara Charcoal Grill & Meze on Church Road: the first time I went there, the owner joined me at my table, drank some free shots with me and gave me a free desert. I’ve been going back ever since.
Which is your favourite well-known chef and why?
As a fish fan, I always enjoy watching Rick Stein on TV – I’d love to do a cookery course at his seafood school in Padstow (Cornwall) one day. But, at the moment, my favourite chef is Yotam Ottolenghi. A blend of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean styles, his food is bold and big on flavour. He also puts a big emphasis on vegetables, which I love. I’ve got a couple of his cookbooks, so I often give his recipes a go when I find the time.
What has inspired you to become a food reviewer – or how did it the opportunity come about?
Sharing my favourite food experiences, discovering new restaurants, and finding inspiration for cooking at home is a real passion, so food writing is a great way to indulge this. I already do a lot of travel writing, and I love the way that reviewing something makes you examine it harder and think more critically, giving you a better perspective on the places that are truly exceptional.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about?
With a passion for local and seasonal ingredients, I’d love to learn more about foraging. A couple of years ago, I co-wrote the ‘Wild Guide to Southern and Eastern England’, which gave me a great opportunity to visit some of the best local eateries and producers in the southeast. I found the foragers particularly inspiring, so I’d love to upgrade my very basic skills a bit more!