Excellent, effortless dining at Petit Pois
We all need a rendezvous romantique every so often and Brighton’s warm and welcoming Petit Pois restaurant feels like it was designed for just that. Located in The Lanes’ cute Ship Street (and with a ménage of great pre- or post-dinner bars nearby) its décor sings of snug warmth and its food and wine menu is selected with love.
And what says je t’aime more than French cuisine?
Petit Pois is small in many ways: the one-level space is bijou and with the addition of COVID-Secure transparent screens between tables your dining experience is positively pod-like. Its menu is also pleasingly concise: three fish dishes, three meat and three veggie, with a carefully selected array of complementary sides and pre-meal mouth waterers. And desserts… Amazing desserts, but more on that in a bit.
Scanning the food on offer, you’d be forgiven for thinking the restaurant was all about French clichés: snails with garlic and parsley; frogs legs goujons, and crème brûlée. But delve a petit deeper and a contemporary menu awaits, mixing modern with classic and adding seasonal to the perennial.
Salt and spice and all things nice
The open kitchen communicates a message of confidence; the aromas it sends out are like appetizers in themselves.
And in its small space, the chefs create a wonder of shareable plates, which can be perfectly matched with wines by the in-house experts. But I wouldn’t share, if I were you.
The salt cod fritters with alarming-sounding spicy sauce chien were matched with a Muscadet, which washed down frankly delicious mouth-sized, deep fried balls that sizzle the tongue with both salt and spice and all things nice (namely, a vinaigrette with onion). The generous portion of duck rillettes to be smeared onto toasted sourdough and topped with pickles provide a torrent of tastebud fun as sweet met sharp and soft met crunch – matched with a glass of Côtes du Rhône.
The main event
Starters sunk, a Bouillabaisse supplied succulent fish and seafood in a salty and sweet soup with potato chunking up the textures. The sweet, sticky and totally tender beef short rib with the smoothest roast garlic mash, pearl onions, broccoli and smoked jus shone quite literally from the plate, accompanied with a side of mixed greens sautéed with shallots, garlic and parsley butter.
And to settle it all with sweetness, a trio of crème brûlées laced with cinnamon, Armagnac and vanilla and topped with a madeleine presented a tricky decision about which was the most delicious as the spoon journeyed from one to the other. In addition, we tried the chocolate fondant with pistachio ice cream and crumb and realised that chocolate really is better than, erm, not eating any. A selection of dessert wines is available to further heighten each sweet treat.
Wining and Dining
The French have often been associated with enjoying the finer things in life, and Petit Pois brings the essence of this to our city: a fine food and wine experience delivered in an informal, friendly manner with none of the concomitant pretentiousness.
The prices are pocket friendly, ranging from £10 – £15 for a main dish and with so much attention given to the wine list it’s admirable that such a fantastic hand-picked French selection is priced so affordably.
Mixing elegant with easy going and excellent with effortless is never easy, but Petit Pois has it licked. Once you’re done with date night, you’ll be raring to take friends, family or fly solo – whatever it takes to try everything on the perfectly formed menu.