Review – The Chilli Pickle
I started a Curry Club at my day job and Tom, chose The Chilli Pickle as the first outing.
In true curry tradition, the first hour or two beforehand was spent sinking pints of beer in the sunshine outside the Wagon and Horses pub whilst we waited for everyone to finish work in time for our 7pm booking. Once everyone had gathered, we set off with a spring in our step to The Chilli Pickle on Jubilee Street.
Initially trading as a small, 50 cover establishment on Meeting House Lane, word of mouth spread and The Chilli Pickle sought to relocate onto some prime retail space and where better than underneath one of the bustling hotels in the city, MyHotel, which is conveniently situated on one of the busiest lanes in Brighton.
The vast majority of my group had eaten at The Chilli Pickle before and all had kind words to say and all mentioned the hefty price tag for their “incredible diversity of Indian cuisine” – a word from their own website. As we arrived, I had no idea what to expect and that was a genuinely good feeling to have.
Seated on a long table for ten people with five of us able to have a view onto Jubilee Street, the general decor I thought was excellent, very welcoming and enticing. Our waiter, a young gentlemen whose name escaped me, politely and patiently took our round of drink order of 8 large Kingfisher beers, 1 Thatchers and a Mango Lassi, whilst others scattered menus across the table in quick succession.
The set menu was laid out on top so therefore immediately caught everyones eye with general mutterings of ‘it’ll be easier to split the bill that way’. Two courses for £23.50 or three for £26.50 with a decent selection of starters, mains and puddings to be chosen from and nibbles thrown in as all part of the price.
I’ve previously stated on this website that I’m not the biggest of drinkers and after getting stuck into my third pint, I wasn’t in any position to flick back and forth through the menu calculating what was what and how much things were, I just assumed the set menu would be a great deal and there were many things that took my fancy. However, others did delve into the eclectic and well presented A La Carte.
After much asking of what everyone was having, I decided on Green Pea Kebab – garden pen and fenugreek lead patties served with tamarind and smoked pepper chutney to start and the Tandoori Poultry Platter – chicken tikka breast, yellow spiced chicken oyster leg, citrus red duck tikka, cheese and sundried tomato seekh, mint raita, kasundi mustard, carrot chaat, plum chutney and coriander and chilli naan for my extravagant main course and of course, the Poppadoms – dry roasted or fried with our signature pickles and chutneys and Rajasthani Pickled Onions & Chevada Mix, due to the fact they were included in the price.
I have to say that ordering was a total nightmare. Our waiter seemed to have lost his calm demeanour from our drinks service and looked impatient and to be honest, rather pissed off, that people were asking questions about the menu and the dishes – personally, it made me feel slightly uncomfortable that our intriguing nature had rattled him and I wondered how well prepared the restaurant had been for a ten person table?
The nibbles advertised were brought out fairly quickly and I personally enjoyed the crunchy, crispy Chevada mix and the sharp, pickled onions. These were also coupled with our Poppadoms, which I didn’t get an opportunity to photograph. Sadly, this is where I think things all went a bit downhill – there was some slight uproar when people realised they only got a single poppadom. Served on plates of three and distributed amongst those who’d chosen the set menu, there was a certain air of disappointment. More about this later…
Served on a faux silver platter, my Green Pea Kebab smelt fantastic, a real harmonious whiff of flavours entered my nostrils and I was looking forward to this dish. The fried, brown, crispy mini green pea kebabs were fairly mild and you could really taste an exotic blend of spices that gave them a more-ish sensation. Not overly pea flavoured, they were beautifully paired against the sweet, smokey pepper chutney and tamarind chutneys.
A good starter, albeit slightly on the small side, but overall, I was happy with my choice and kept the remainder of my sweet pepper chutney for dipping in later!
There are some days that I post a photo and feel my degree in film theory and production went entirely to waste. Months I spent toiling over how to create the perfect shot and then I go and photograph something as atrocious as the above.
The Tandoori platter was huge. An absolute beast of a main meal. I had been warned of The Chilli Pickle’s love for gargantuan plates of food, but this was something else.
Needless to say, the selection of poultry was spot on. I particularly enjoyed the slender yellow spiced oyster leg which was melt in the mouth meat and the kasundi mustard as I felt the mild kick added volumes to the tikka spiced cuts. I had worried that the dish may be too spicy for my sensitive pallet, but again, it was fairly mild.
A true meat lovers dream, a selection of well marinaded and flavoured cuts, a few chutneys, a super sized naan and a knife and fork. Heaven, right? So you’d think, but in all honesty about half way through my conscience kicked in – my dinner was meat and naan. How I wish I’d chosen a delicate side of Pilau rice or onion salad to balance the amount of flesh I was chomping through.
Managing just about two thirds of my platter, I resided myself to being defeated and made a mental note that if I were to return, I’d perhaps go for a lighter main course.
As always with large groups, the bill was a nightmare. I was more than happy to split it between 10 but then some of the more cunning amongst us added up their totals and realised their meal was cheaper. Which led to some people adding up their dishes from the set menu against the prices on the A La Carte, only to find the set menu had been more expensive. This was really disappointing and when I did my maths, I realised it worked out I’d paid an extra £4 for one poppadom and a pickled onion by choosing the set menu. Disappointing when you think you’re getting value for money, but being charged more than if you’d ordered the a la carte.
Overall, I enjoyed my evening out at The Chilli Pickle and the food was interesting and a change from the westernised Indian cuisine dotted around the city. Well cooked, very flavoursome and a decent evening out. Will I be returning? Probably not. I feel that I’ve experienced The Chilli Pickle and I wasn’t blown away by the restaurant enough to want to return. The service was poor and I gained a slight atmosphere of superiority that bordered on smugness which I felt was slightly off putting.
Where will next months Curry Club take us is the question on everyones lips at the moment, with requests for ‘somewhere cheap that doesn’t rip us off’ flooding in…