Review - Fish+Liquor

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 vintage typewriter sits by the door, where customers can leave their feedback

A vintage typewriter sits by the door, where customers can leave their feedback

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.

Large cod with chippy chips, mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce

Large cod with chippy chips, mushy peas and homemade tartare sauce

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.

The Mad Patty burger, with crabcakes in the background (excuse awful lighting, it was pretty dark in there!)

The Mad Patty burger, with crabcakes in the background (excuse awful photo, it was pretty dark in there!)

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.

Really good cocktails: Old Fashioned (left) and Mojito

Really good cocktails: Old Fashioned (left) and Mojito

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