Review – Fish+Liquor
It happens every summer. Friends come down to visit and their first demand is always “let’s go to the seafront for fish and chips”. This poses a problem. I’ve lived here for nine years and I’ve never had good takeaway fish and chips on Brighton beach.
This may have changed though. Fish+Liquor, a restaurant and takeaway with loads of outdoor seating, has recently opened on the former site of the Seagull on Madeira Drive. It’s had a complete overhaul and is now a colourful mash-up of comic-book wallpaper and vintage knick-knacks. The Seagull was a fairly ropey chippy that nonetheless did well due to huge tourist footfall. Some may suggest that Fish+Liquor will only make money for the same reasons, but I think that’s unfair. Their food is surprisingly good.
A new menu
The menu is small with all chip-shop staples covered: line-caught cod, plaice and haddock, fishcakes and goujons, a couple of burgers, saveloys and pies, even homemade curry sauce and pea fritters. My large cod and chips was pretty much flawless: batter was crisp, light and grease-free, coating a huge beautifully steamed, well-seasoned fillet and served with homemade tartare sauce, mushy peas (not homemade, but that’s good) and “chippy chips” that are hand-cut on site every morning. The presentation was ridiculous – nobody needs their mushy peas served in a latté glass – but when I’m being fed well, I can overlook daft gimmicks.
My friend’s “Mad Patty” burger arrived in a frying pan on a wooden board (it’s the kitchen porter I feel sorry for) and pronged with a deep-fried prawn. Silliness aside, she declared it faultless (and this girl knows her burgers), with a juicy patty, lovely gherkin-dotted mayo, leaves, cheese, chorizo and a proper glazed brioche bun.
We were really impressed by the crunchy panko-coated fishcakes with red slaw, packed with fish and not at all stodgy. Onion rings were fat and moreish. Often a meal that consists entirely of deep-fried carbs gives a heavy-bellied feeling for the rest of the day, but this didn’t at all. Clearly someone in this kitchen is a dab hand with a fryer.
Fancy a tipple?
The small cocktail menu, scribbled on a blackboard, is basic with a handful of crowd-pleasers. My mojito was tart and sweet, one of the best I’ve had for a good while. There are loads of beers available, too, and it’s great to see our very own Bison Beer and Brighton Gin on offer.
The restaurant has garnered quite a bit of criticism on social media for its name, which rather closely resembles that of a well-established meaty chain on London Road. In a town this small, the name choice possibly wasn’t their wisest move, but I do genuinely think this was borne of naiveté rather than a calculated attempt to piggyback on someone else’s success. For the record, the two establishments aren’t in any way linked and I’d gently suggest that Fish+Liquor mention this on their website and Twitter bio to avoid any further confusion.
All in all, it’s great to finally be able to recommend a good seafront fish and chip place, and I imagine I’ll be spending a lot of time this summer on the warm stones opposite Fish+Liquor enjoying a decent takeaway.
Fish & Liquor, 11-14 Madeira Drive, BN2 1PS 01273 604462
First published in the Brighton & Hove Independent on 1st May 2015