Lunch at Drakes and a trip to Brighton

Lunch at Drakes and a trip to Brighton

by Martin Malloy 19 March 2013

Martin recently made his first trip to Brighton and took it as a good opportunity to sample “London by the Sea’s” culinary scene. Naturally it included fish and chips in the open air, but also a visit to one of Brighton’s premier restaurants - The Restaurant at Drakes.

Martin has come to London from Glasgow and seems to have slotted into the London scene pretty easily - then again as a graffiti-collecting whizz developer it is hardly surprising.

Martin has come to London from Glasgow and seems to have slotted into the London scene pretty easily - then again as a graffiti-collecting whizz developer it is hardly surprising.

I’d never been to Brighton, but everything I had heard about it was probably the same as you – the ‘Lanes’, the Pier, the Royal Pavilion. On this occasion, though, I wasn’t there to see the sights. My own sights were set on finding out what Brighton’s culinary scene had to offer - though I did find time to enjoy its wealth of street art and risk my life on some end-of-the-pier fairground rides. On that last point, I would like to award “Crazy Mouse“ the best ride award and “Horror Hotel” the wooden spoon.

We started with a meal at one of Brighton’s many fish and chip joints: Bardsleys, which was both a restaurant and a take-away. I was surprised to see people in the restaurant, though, as I thought the whole point was to eat fish and chips while strolling along its pebbled shoreline - which is the option we took. We went for a heartily-portioned cod and chips and were not to be disappointed. The cod, which was clearly of a high quality and fresh, was not too greasy and cooked to perfection, while the chips were perfectly fluffy inside and given an extra level of seasoning by the sea-air. The only obstacle was trying to eat the damn thing before the stiff breeze cooled it down - maybe that’s why people use the restaurant.

Chastened by the experience of eating fish and chips al-fresco on a cool March evening, we decided to book a table at Brighton’s premier restaurant, The Restaurant at Drakes. Drakes is situated on the seafront but, being a bit higher up the hill from the pier, comes with spectacular views. We sat in the warm cocktail bar and enjoyed some beautiful white wine while studying the fine mix of artwork which decorates the walls.

Then we were whisked downstairs to a bright and airy restaurant area where we were presented with some warm rolls which we ate while browsing the Sunday Lunch menu. It offered four options per course and we were torn between a few of them.

I decided to start with a rustic Pork terrine with Madeira jelly, which came served with a fresh salad and beautiful bread. Black sea salt helped to season the dish; a single grain in each mouthful is more than enough to reap its benefits.

Following on from that was perhaps the ultimate Sunday lunch dish. Ample thin slices pieces of beef, juicy and pink in the middle, were served with muffin sized Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes – both of which were crispy on the outside and fluffy in the middle - green beans, carrots and a dollop of horseradish sauce. The dish was drizzled in a light but tasty gravy that helped to draw all the flavour out of the prime ingredients.

It became clear that Drakes is an ideal spot for families and friends to catch up over a very good meal. The food isn’t particularly showy but Andrew Mackenzie’s style still comes through well, aided by ingredients as fresh as the sea breeze we experienced the night before. The atmosphere was very friendly, and staff would bring additional courses to enjoy - a cup of very smooth and creamy butternut squash soup went nicely with a warm roll. Once our main courses arrived, the restaurant barely had a table left.

We were busy admiring the traditional stone alcoves with downward spot lighting situated next to our table when our desserts arrived; warm and rich chocolate fondants served temptingly in an iron pot with toffee caramel ice cream. Being a lover of this particular dessert, I feel I make a good judge of a chocolate fondant and this version was one of the best I have tasted. It was so good, in fact, that I didn’t find the time to take a picture of it.

Perhaps I had learnt my lesson from the evening before - that in Brighton food must be eaten quickly!