First impressions count (no pressure!)
This is it – your one chance to make a great impression on your first date. But where to take them? Whether you’re out to impress with a fancy meal, or looking for something a little more relaxed or perhaps even quirky, we’ve put together our choice of the best romanic restaurants Brighton, guaranteed to score you date no.2!
For stylish cocktails
Situated in the Victorian splendour of the Hilton Brighton Metropole hotel, The Metropole Bar and Terrace is a decadent space with stunning sea views. Cocktail wizard Matt Ottley has developed an engaging collection of signature cocktails based around the nautical adventures of the fictitious Neil Halverson Hilton, an Admiral of the British Navy from the mid-1800s. Try the Message in a Bottle, a take on the old fashioned which is served sealed in an ice ball with a little hammer for you to crack open and enjoy. Or for some impressive theatrics Cannons at Cocktail Hour is a take on the gin gimlet but infused under a cloche with gunpowder tea smoke.
Prohibition themed bar L’Atelier du Vin in Seven Dials and the North Laine offers guests a wealth of intimate little corners to occupy and whisper sweet nothings in. The vibe is purposefully low key with mismatched armchairs, lamps and occasional tables, but the wine and cocktail menu is anything but thrown together. Boasting more fine wines than any other bar in Brighton, the cocktails have also been painstakingly researched and mixed to the original recipes.
With a cocktail menu that is constantly evolving, each experience at GungHo bar is different from the last. Influenced by seasonality the cocktails are often made with foraged and local ingredients championing all types of fruit and veg; from green strawberries and elderflower to chicory root and mushrooms. Expect vibrant, fresh and complex cocktails at GungHo. Natural wine is served too alongside craft beer from some of the best breweries in the UK.
Fish and seafood
Duncan Ray’s Little Fish Market is one of Brighton’s most esteemed restaurants. The set menu of six courses is refined and creative, the restaurant itself has only 20 covers and, unusually, the table is reserved for the diners for the whole night, so you can really take your time and even linger a while after over wine conversation. The scale of the set-up in conjunction with the scale of the reputation means The Little Fish Market is one to be planned in advance, don’t call up on February 12th expecting to reserve a table for Valentine’s day.
Following the success of The Coal Shed, restaurateur, Raz Helalat expanded his empire in February 2015 promising a seafood restaurant that would rival the likes of Riddle and Finns. Cue The Salt Room, a modern British seafood and and grill restaurant and possibly the most talked-about eaterie of 2015. If you fancy a spot of wining and dining with a view make sure to request a window seat when booking where you can look straight out onto the West Pier – especially beautiful at sunset. In the summer the terrace is open so you can enjoy a cocktail or two before tasting your way through the menu. Oysters anyone?
The Coppa Club on Brighton’s seafront is a wonderful destination for seafood lovers who are in the mood for love, catching the late sun through its large arched windows and with views of the majestic West Pier the setting is almost enough in itself. Then bring on the bisque whole lobster and lashings of cava and falling in love seems irresistible.
Amarillo is the resident pop-up at Lost in the Lanes Cafe from acclaimed Chef Ian Swainson. Ian fuses Spanish and Asian inspired cuisine in a menu that is bold and creative. Served tapas style Amarillo is perfect for couples to pick over, share and have their tastebuds treated to high-end fine-dining cuisine but in a much more relaxed and informal setting. Amarillo is currently only open Friday and Saturday evenings, which lends it an added air of exclusivity and specialness.
At Planet India Hove they know that Indian cuisine has long been a world leader in terms of vegetarian cuisine, so much so that they don’t really consider it as vegetarian food. The menu at Planet India reads as a friendly trip across the Indian sub-continent with a strong Gujarati influence. With the Hove restaurant, they have created a menu that is a little more centred around a restaurant feel with full dishes rather than sharing as with the original Brighton venue. We love this about Planet India and are certain that you will too.
Curry Leaf Cafe has two restaurants, for something more off the beaten track, and to show off your knowledge of Brighton’s treasures, head east of the Pavilion for Curry Leaf Cafe Kemptown, it’s the smaller of the two venues and offers a tapas style dining experience with a more playful exploration of India’s cuisine. Curry Leaf Ship Street is just as much a gem in the city, albeit more centrally located one, with a host of awards this relaxed cafe holds nothing back on delivering great flavour. Both restaurants serve a host of swoon-worthy cocktails that bring a hint of Indian flavour to well-known classics.
Indian Summer (situated on East Street) offers a fine dining experience with a fantastic menu created by a team of talented chefs. Offering Indian flavours with a modern twist, it is listed in the ‘Top 100’ restaurants in the UK by the Cobra Good Curry Guide. The service is second to none and you’ll be sure of a warm welcome that will impress your date as much as the food itself.
There’s Chinese… and then there’s Gars. Nestled amongst the busy eateries on Prince Albert St (opposite Brighton Town Hall) this little delight has been around for years (1983!) and has a loyal following amongst Brightonian foodies. The sultry, lantern-lit interior casts a warm feeling over diners upon entry and the staff exude an air of friendly professionalism and knowledge. Described as ‘Asian fine dining’one of the most popular dishes on the menu is Dim Sum, small individual plates of food that have been steamed, baked or fried – order a selection and get sharing!
Nothing says romance like a French bistro. Plateau mixes simple, locally sourced, ingredients cooked with a passion for taste and marries these with a selection of dazzling cocktails and fun packed ‘low intervention’ wines. Like the food the ambience is laid back, effortless style with an eclectic mix of background beats. It would be really hard to not look good on a date here.
If you want to impress a date with your insider knowledge of Brighton then a trip to Twisted Lemon cocktail bar is a good bet. Hidden in plain sight in the heart of the Lanes, Twisted Lemon is located down a narrow yellow alleyway which opens up into a tiny and very cute little courtyard. Inside Twisted Lemon is a prime example of Brighton’s fun easy going and eccentric drinks scene. Being quite a small venue you won’t get much in the way of whispering sweet nothings to your date here, but if your idea of a memorable night is just seeing where the adventure will take you, then Twisted Lemon is a good place to start.
Restaurant Interlude was open for less than a year before being awarded a Michelin Star. The tasting menu is inspired and largely sourced from the surrounding gardens, with incredible creativity, taste and flavour. A visit to Restaurant Interlude is guaranteed to be one you’ll remember for a lifetime.
The Sussex Ox offers local craft beer, natural wine, seasonal cocktails and a menu made up from ingredients from their own organic farm just over 2 miles away. The lunch menu consists of some of our favourite pub classics from sausage and mash to ox liver and bacon. The evening menu brings a more refined gastro style menu focussing on flavours from the farm. In the winter a roaring log fire welcomes you to settle in for a cosy evening and in the summer, an extensive beer garden offers some of the best South Downs views in Sussex.
Rathfinny offers a unique experience to its guests who can enjoy an educational afternoon tour of the beautiful vineyards, or walk the scenic Cradle Valley footpath, completing their afternoon with lunch at the Tasting Room Restaurant where local and seasonal cuisine awaits. The exceptional produce of Sussex shines in the menu which is finessed with Asian and Iberian influences. WINTER UPDATE: The Tasting Room serves lunch only from Monday 4th November 2019 throughout the winter months and is closed during October 2019.
Date venues for the foodies
Steven Edward’s Etch was voted Brighton’s Best Restaurant in the 2019 BRAVO awards, as well as receiving multiple national accolades and awards. The tasting menu is a celebration of local and seasonal produce with each dish showcasing only two ingredients. Unusually Steven doesn’t use any spice to flavour his dishes, not even pepper, instead flavour is controlled through concentration and reduction to create unique and authentically flavoursome dishes.
Drakes is a boutique hotel on Brighton’s seafront in Kemptown. It’s a little removed from the craziness of the city centre but the area itself is famed for its bohemian populace and eclectic mix of bars and restaurants. Drakes offers an experience of timeless elegance and style, refinement and quality and a menu of modern European dining that’s hard to beat in terms of excellence. The intimate restaurant and exceptional service have an ambience that leaves diners feeling like they are truly special.
Chard Brighton have collaborated with the fabulous I GiGi General Store in Hove to create a unique space for eating, drinking and shopping. Rustic, creative and welcoming, the venue feels relaxed and homey with a touch of beautiful French chic. By night, the venue is transformed into arguably the most romantic restaurant in Brighton, with low light, chic candles and wooden rustic tables. The space is small and intimate, the staff are non-fussy and welcoming and the food in nothing less than brilliant. This one’s definitely for the bucket list.
Kujira Brighton is the newest addition to the set of bright young things rejuvenating the Preston Street area of the city. The design throughout is sleek and modern and the menu at Kujira Brighton is divided into Kobachi, small bowls or starters, salads, and small and large robata – perfect for sharing! Kujira also offers Japanese inspired cocktails invented by their mixologist adding to the area’s growing reputation as the cocktail capital of Brighton.
For steak lover lovers, head to Baqueano on Western Road, this intimate restaurant offers a tasting menu for two that gives diners a tour of the most traditional Argentinian food. For a little extra the tasting menu can be paired with exceptional Argentinian wines, or let the friendly front of house manager, Adriana, guide your choice through knowledgable recommendations.
For a great first date, why not head to the West Beach Bar & Kitchen. With it being at the base of the BAi360 tower, you can take a flight up in the pod with a glass of champagne from the BAi360 bar and catch the sunset. The restaurant offers a whole variety of dishes, all inspired by the fun and vibrant city. Whether you fancy sharing, a salad or a hearty burger, you’ll be in for a first date to remember with the spectacular views.