Feature – PIEB Top 5… Alfresco Dining
Riddle and Finns gets my vote for best alfresco dining experience. Situated on the actual seafront – none of this “views of the West Pier” when actually all you can see is four lanes of traffic nonsense – Riddle and Finns is one of the most idyllically located restaurants.
The menu is a terrific selection of light bites, fruits de mer platters, crustacea and a wide selection of fish dishes. The smoked haddock fillet with colcannon, poached egg, prosciutto and champagne sauce (£16.95) sounds wickedly indulgent and reflects the atmosphere Riddle and Finns is known for.
Personally, I prefer to shy away high-end plates and order a selection of starters – the pan-fried Brighton scallops with chorizo and chilli are a must – a bottle of something crisp and dry, and people watch for a good couple of hours.
Be warned: getting an outside table in the heat of summer is hard work, but worth it for unparalleled views, excellent customer service and a fantastic seafood menu.
Riddle and Finns Seafront, 139 Kings Road Arches, Brighton, BN1 1FN – 01273 821218
There are so many great places I could recommend for alfresco dining – English’s, Coggings and Co and The Dorset being some of my favourites – but it feels wrong to not mention the seafront, given that summer’s finally kicking in and we have just mere months to make the most of it. So back to The New Club it is for me, which somehow keeps cropping up time and again in my favourites list.
Whatever time of day, they never fail to deliver top-notch grub, from brunches that would cure any hangover (breakfast burger and a bacon-infused Bloody Mary, anyone?) to evening fare that – at the time of writing – included shredded spiced lamb with fennel yogurt, fried chicken with beet slaw, 16-hour smoked pulled pork and lobster sliders.
The views of the West Pier are unbeatable and the seats out front trap the sun all day long – it’s the perfect spot to watch the sun go down. Just be careful, it’s very easy to lose track of time sitting here working through the rather brilliant cocktail menu.
The New Club, 133-134 Kings Road, BN1 2HH – 01273 730 320
When it comes to alfresco dining, why not mingle amongst the people of Brighton at the weekly Street Diner events at Brighthelm Gardens just off Queens Road, running every Friday from 11am-3pm.
A range of street food stalls offer cuisine from paella to pulled pork, with vegan kebabs, meze, burgers, burritos and cake often making an appearance too. You just won’t know until you arrive as although there are often regular sellers in attendance, new vendors can pop up at any time. I’ve spoken to Trolls Pantry here before (usually to be found in the Hobgoblin) and they tell me how much they enjoy serving food directly to the clientele. It seems to be taking food back to within the community where we vote with our feet and popular stalls enjoy hearty queues.
I popped along this week and went for a healthy veg-laden meze lunchbox and a not so healthy slab of Bakewell tart. Both were gorgeous, fresh fare, and you know this food hasn’t been sitting out in a sweaty kitchen for that bit too long. In fact, the stalls tend to sell out so you will need to get a wriggle on to secure your favourites.
Within half an hour of opening, Honeycomb Cakes also look set to sell out soon. I mention this to the vendor who cheerfully proclaims, “and I bought more than last week, I just can’t win!”
But you are winning my friend, we are all winning when it comes to having such a great choice of top notch, honest street food in the heart of Brighton.
Street Diner, Fridays at Brighthelm Gardens, Queens Road, Brighton
Unlike nearly everyone else, I don’t like eating outside. I have had far too many wasp attacks in my life to really enjoy alfresco dining and try as I might, I still dine in fear of those pesky bugs. But don’t worry, there is still one dining experience that I will do ONLY outside: fish and chips.
Brighton’s beach being all pebbles is not good for sandcastles, but perfect for eating fish and chips as there is no risk of any sand contamination. After many years of careful tastings I can confirm that Bankers on Western Road is by far my favourite. They have a lovely dining area but why do that when you can walk along to the beach with your greasy bag in hand?
It’s quite hard to recommend anything from a fish and chip shop as everyone has their firm favourite but I’ll try. Firstly, always go large fish. Going big is always going to be the dinner winner and going small is just a waste of time. Everything to the fish is now secondary so you want one portion of chips, mushy peas and a battered sausage. Too much food you say? Well as this is a treat (you don’t get this each week, do you?), you need to really make it count. Where else would you get a sausage, batter it and serve it with a delicious green slime?
As I mentioned, the idea of eating outside has never really appealed to me, but walking along a cold Brighton beach with chips in hand is absolutely perfect and although very humble in its conception, a hot greasy bag on a cold day could beat any top-end restaurant.
Bankers, 116A Western Road, Hove, East Sussex BN1 2AB – 01273 328267
Lucky Beach is very Brighton. It makes use of a small space, is staffed by inked and well-styled, hip youngsters and the menu has a vintage yet cutting edge feel.
I keep having the LB Royale because it is so delicious and boy is it savoury, the umami factor is off the chart. It comes with mayo, salad, pickled red onions and a super tasty brioche bun. Lucky Beach dry-age the beef for 35 days giving it bags of flavour.
The accompanying chips are exemplary. Everything else, from the fish and chips to the chicken burger and the Caesar salad, were also excellent. The cool factor keeps on coming with DJs, cocktails and pop-ups, plus much more going on in the evenings. The kids menu got double thumbs up and it’s ideal for the kids in the day, with the beach a stone’s throw away. We went for a pitcher of Rioja with our burgers and it was a good match.
Yes, I know there are so many burger places in Brighton, but the whole package can be found right here at Lucky Beach.
Lucky Beach, 183 Kings Road Arches, Brighton BN11NB – 01273 728280