English’s of Brighton
I was recently invited* to English’s of Brighton for a rather special lunch along with my foodie pal, Eshé. English’s of Brighton is the oldest seafood restaurant in Brighton, having stood in Brighton’s Lanes under its current ownership since 1945. Its full history, however, is said to date back even further – over 150 years!
Situated in the lovely, historic little nook in East Street, English’s always stands out as the original and authentic seafood destination; with its gorgeous painted exterior, sunny yellow brickwork and splashes of flowers adorning the exterior. So there I went to find out if that was the case.
A sharing platter of classics
After a very warm welcome from the team and a quick tour around the charmingly higgeldy-piggeldy floors, we were presented with a tantalising platter of starters to share.
With several classic seafood dishes and some of them reimagined, the sharing platter comprised:
- House smoked salmon on rye
- Prawn cocktail
- Chicken liver parfait
- Curry powder calamari
- Lobster and prawn croquettes
Having never been a fan of smoked salmon or typically dense rye bread, this was a little much for me, but I had no trouble in working through the rest of it.
The parfait was teasingly rich, with flavours of port and red wine. As a still fairly recent pate convert, I could happily have eaten a full sized one to myself. The prawn cocktail, I was pleased to see, wasn’t doused in Marie Rose sauce, but covered just enough to give it that fresh, zingy taste – with its crisp bed of lettuce, it made a refreshing taster.
Favourites had to be the punchy calamari rings, cooked just right (tender and no stringiness in sight!), and the very moreish lobster and prawn croquettes with aioli.
(I should probably mention we were washing this all down with a crisp bottle of Laurent Perrier.)
Catch of the day
Next, we were to work through two main sharing dishes. The first was the local market fish of the day, a whole brill baked in lemon, butter and oil. I’d never had brill before, but loved its firm and meaty texture and delicate flavour.
We were presented with the (delicious) monster catch before being showed how to fillet it (a skill I’m not entirely confident I’ll have nailed after watching once) and then left to indulge, with accompaniments of chunky chips, skinny fries, tartare sauce and garlic butter.
A sashimi grade loin of tuna followed – this means the fish is of such high quality, it can confidently be served and eaten raw. The loin was marinated in honey, rolled in sesame and served seared, with wasabi crackers and a seaweed and citrus salad on the side.
Following the delicate flavours of the brill, the tuna loin and citrusy salad brought sweet and salty flavours to the forefront, along with touches of that surprisingly pleasant yet hard to describe umami taste from the wasabi.
Dessert platter (music to my ears)
I know English’s is predominantly a seafood restaurant, but wow they can do dessert! Again, we were treated to a sharing platter so as to get a taste of what was on offer:
- Sticky toffee pudding, butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream
- Apple tart, rum and raisin ice cream, cinnamon lemon balm and chantilly
- Chocolate and banana cremeaux, raspberry and coconut granola
- White chocolate cheesecake with basil, mango and passionfruit
The dessert offering definitely seems to cover something for everyone, with traditional British staples (perfect place for it), indulgent puddings and refreshing twists on classics. I’d honestly struggle to pick a clear favourite, but I think the sticky toffee and chocolate banana cremeaux pipped it for me.
After trying what feels like a fairly good chunk of the menu for a first visit, I can confidently say that English’s is a Brighton restaurant not to be missed – whether you’re a seasoned local that still, like me, hadn’t made a visit or visiting for the day/weekend.
Not only is the food top notch, the service was impeccable – English’s is definitely one of the classier establishments we have here in Brighton, but in no way does it or the food feel pretentious. You’ll also find a variety of different menus available, from a la carte to a very reasonably priced set menu.
Check out their menus before you plan your visit. They tend to plan these with the changing seasons so, whilst you’ll always find certain classics on the menu, you can guarantee new, fresh and exciting dishes if you haven’t been for a while.
*I was invited to English’s of Brighton for a complimentary lunch but you can rest assured that this is my own, honest review.