Review – The Eagle
It was the afternoon of the Extreme Food Challenge that I took part in and once I had graciously been defeated by a plate of mushroom fungus, I was more than ready to get out of the cold and have a hearty plate of real food. What better place easily provides both of these options, than that of a good old Brighton pub.
Being smack bang in the middle of town, we had many options available to us but wanted somewhere close by and which served decent food. Being the “foodie” (most opinionated) of my group of friends, I suggested The Eagle. Being a stone throw away from Victoria Gardens, we packed up and headed quickly in the bitter wind toward the pub.
I’m not a fan of busy pubs on a weekend and should have known that everywhere was going to be rammed full of boozy punters at half six on a Saturday evening and The Eagle was certainly no exception. Very busy and not a table in site, we dithered about wondering whether to cramp into the bar and wait until one became free. Luckily, my incredibly quick thinking friend Jess remembered there was an upstairs. Pushing through the crowds we stomped up the wooden stairs and hoped for the best.
It was empty and also, more importantly, shut. However, after some sweet talk with the lovely bar staff, they let us sit on a large, low table next to a huge radiator and also let us put on whatever we wanted on the stereo system. Result!
Settling in and starting to warm up, I got myself a pint of cider and looked at the menu. I was instantly surprised how large their menu was, far more than just the standard pub grub of sandwiches, chips and burgers.
The ‘starters’ section offered up olives and humous, salt and pepper squid, goats cheese bruscetta and smoked mackerel pate, to name but a few. The even more eclectic ‘mains’ ranged from meaty and hearty slow roasted lamb with apricot, beef and chorizro stew and BBQ spare ribs to a fishy squid salad whilst not forgetting a decent selection of vegetarian options, including beer battered halloumi and a wonderful sounding chickpea and pepper curry.
I know, dear readers, that I should be more adventurous when it comes to ordering food, but lets not forget I had just eaten a concoction of chicken feet and grass jelly and was wanting something I associate with comfort and wholesomeness. So, it may not surprise you that I went for the Slow Roasted Pork Belly – with champ, savoy cabbage, pan roasted shallots and red wine gravy (£9.95)
The food came piping hot about twenty minutes after we ordered. The photo above doesn’t really due the dish justice, as the portion was a lot bigger than I think the above depicts (and also looked a lot nicer!)
The pork itself was brilliant. Two thick, succulent, juicy strips adored the champ and cabbage. The flesh pulled apart beautifully and was just the right side of fatty which complemented the salty, crispy crackling tremendously. It was really pleasing to see a pub serving proper crispy crackling too, as with many it ends up just tasting like boiled rind.
The champ was nice, albeit a bit overly buttery for my taste. However, the shallot and red wine gravy was a huge hit. Well seasoned, sweet and silky it served as a great accompaniment to the roasted pork and it was nice to see they didn’t scrimp on the serving size, as the plate was swimming in it.
The savoy cabbage was bright, fresh and crunchy. After all of the smoothness and richness on the plate, it was a great vegetable pairing as it added a bite to the dish.
My friend had ordered the beef and chorizo stew which he found to be as fantastic as my dish, however, other friends ordered the nachos and felt slightly disappointed by the fried bread like texture of the tortilla’s, something that put them off The Eagle slightly.
All in all, the accommodating bar staff and the high quality of the pub grub was enough to satisfy me. There’s not many pubs in Brighton serving up food this good and if you’re looking for a large, wholesome meal as these cold nights linger on well into April, then look no further.
Words by Claire Beveridge