Review – Brighton Rocks
Brighton Rocks is tucked beside our very own ‘school of rock’, B.I.M.M, on Lower Rock Gardens in Kemptown. However, don’t let the hive of students put you off. This long standing cocktail bar and watering hole is a delicate flower in a rather raucous part of Brighton and to make things better it now has a new chef and new menu.
Upon entering the restaurant/cocktail bar/pub you are immediately greeted by warm and welcoming décor: a roaring log fire, rustic wooden tables and candles. The staff are just as welcoming with every guest being treated as an old friend.
The menu is split between a selection of mains and light bites that consist mostly of pub classics including burgers, fish and chips, pies and steaks. After a brief recommendation from our waiter we opted for the 3 for £10 tapas style dishes which are proving to be the most popular choice from the recently revamped menu.
Not wanting to miss out we ordered a feast: calamari with aioli, chicken with tatazkti, broccoli and cauliflower tempura, meat balls in tomato sauce, mackerel with beetroot and finally roast potatoes and gravy.
Ordering tapas style was a great way to sample everything off the menu and also get a taste of what the new chef is capable of. To start, the seafood was fantastic. The calamari was cut in to huge portions with a lot of crispy tentacles and a serving of garlicky aioli. Calamari is always a good test as it can so easily go wrong and become rubbery. This was definitely not the case at Brighton Rocks.
The mackerel was also cooked to perfection with crispy skin with the fresh beetroot salad cutting through the oily fish. This dish was presented beautifully and in a style reminiscent of a fine dining establishment.
The chicken had been marinated in a greek style seasoning with a tzatziki dip . I’m never a fan of breast meat as it drys out very quickly but these skewers were anything but. The beef meatballs so succulent and expertly cooked, they only just about held together.
The tempura broccoli and cauliflower were quite different to the delicate, light tempura we’re used to. We were greeted with huge chunks of large chunks of thick battered vegetables, sprinkled in sesame seeds. These were delicious and highly enjoyable.
The final dish – the roast potatoes and gravy – was the wild card of the evening, but it did everything I wanted it to: a plate of crispy, piping hot roast potatoes and a cup of meaty gravy. A slightly odd tapas choice, but fun however.
After the hearty mains we had to see what the dessert menu held. I’m always intrigued and happy by menus that offer less choice, so with only 3 items we had to sample a couple of them. First we had the chocolate tart, which had an unmistakable fudge like consistency that wasn’t too overpowering. The base was something Mary Berry would have been proud of.
My partner went for the strawberry pavlova; large meringue base, cream, strawberries and passion fruit. The light meringue had a fluffy marshmallow inside and crisp outer shell. These desserts felt homely but still of great quality and attention to detail.
Brighton Rocks has ticked all the right boxes by offering great tapas for sharing alongside a traditional pub menu. With every dish obviously being made from scratch, it’s hard not to be enticed by Brighton Rock’s charm. Whether you want a quick bite to eat with drinks or a hearty meal out Brighton Rocks can do no wrong.
Words and food images by Rob Ling.
Featured image by Julia Claxton.
Rob’s food was complimentary, courtesy of Brighton Rocks.