A Memorable Collection Of Dishes!
Brighton Food Reviewer, Matt Ainscough, April 2016
Most people would agree that East Asian and Spanish cuisines are equally delicious in their own right, but fusing the two together…there were questions to answer. This was the topic of conversation as my friend and I walked along to Senor Buddha, a restaurant that proffers to do just that.
Located on Preston Road, just a few metres from Preston Circus, the venture is the vision of Lee Shipley; ball of energy and passionate cook, whose travels in SE Asia and Spain laid the foundations for Senor Buddha, which opened 6 months ago.
The setting is relatively intimate and has the laid back feel of a tapas bar come family owned restaurant you might stroll across in Spain and happily while away a few hours in. There are a handful of tables and chairs or you could sit at the bar, directly opposite the open plan kitchen at the back where the action takes place.
We are greeted with a warm welcome from team Buddha as well as from a couple of amiable Spanish guys enjoying a beer or two at the bar. I could’ve been on holiday.
Tapas Or Raciones
The menu is split into Raciones and Tapas; the former being slightly larger servings well priced at around £6 to £7, the tapas plates come in at around £3 to £5. There are 15 or so dishes in total that change from time to time as new dishes evolve and start to feature.
It looks intriguing, sounds delicious and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and dive in.
We’ve asked Lee to take the lead and prepare some of his favourites. A couple of cold Estrella Galicia beers to hand and we begin with the simple delights of fried Padron peppers; rustic and flavoursome, the peppers are soft, sweet, charred and tangy with sea salt.
A Visual Treat
Upping the stakes next, bite sized pieces of salt and pepper Calamari in a squid ink Romseco paste. Squid and a nutty red pepper Romesco sauce is a classic pairing and here, with a twist, it delivers too. Visually the dish is a treat, the jet- black Romesco paste sitting underneath tender morsels of squid sprinkled with chilli and coriander.
The flavours merge together seamlessly and it’s a surprisingly mellow plate of food to savour.
We pair these dishes with a glass of Gewurztraminer, a white grape associated with the Alsace region of France and also Germany, but on this occasion from Spain. It makes wines that are highly aromatic, with tropical fruits at the fore and enough body to soak up the bold flavours.
A Great Plate Of Food
Crab and ginger crusted cod in a lime curry sauce may well have been the most interesting plate of the night. A gently cooked fillet, fragrant with ginger and undertones of crab; it could’ve overpowered but the cod held centre stage. The lime curry sauce is delicate, offering fresh citrus acidity, which the dish needs and a gentle heat. Lots going on but it culminates in a great plate of food.
King Sized Prawns
King prawns really are king sized and tender too, bathed in a spicy sweet and sour broth. The Octopus tentacle, cooked slowly in red wine is again a tender offering, charred here and there with a pleasing bittersweet quality. It’s served with an earthy coriander aioli and moist squid ink caviar.
Fiery Hot Thai Chicken
Moving away from seafood we’re presented with Volcano chicken; a taste of Thailand. Here we have fiery hot chicken thighs with flavours of garlic and coconut milk at the fore. A spicy chilli paste provides a boisterous kick of heat. In this instance the heat channels all the flavours and without it the dish wouldn’t be as good as it is.
Finally a bowl of slow cooked mutton, falling off the bone and sitting in a coconut based sauce, the feel of this dish reminiscent of soothing Indian home cooking.
A Memorable Evening
A memorable collection of dishes served with boundless enthusiasm from Lee and his team. We departed happy and full up but wanting to experience more from the menu, left to speculate over Asian tuna tartare with jamon, sherry pig croquettes with an Asian piccalilli or king scallops with Spanish black pudding on a coconut and cauliflower puree.
This is an exciting project with ambitious cooking at its heart and one worthy of investigation.
In a bustling restaurant scene like Brighton’s standing out from the crowd is no mean feat.