Review – The Hampton

I have always had a very on-off love affair with The Hampton on Upper North Street. For now, though, the romance is firmly back on, thanks in part to a revamped menu and kitchen from The Heart & Soul Food Co.

Operating since last December, The Heart & Soul Food Co serve home-cooked Southern-style American food. Think filling the void where Momma Cherrie’s left and you are halfway there.

Leonie Jani – the head chef who has cooked in kitchens across the world, including Australia and Spain – is keen to show her passion for sharing plates and has constructed a concept menu that emphasises this.

Choose from soul food classics such as glazed ribs, buffalo wings, jumbo shrimp, pulled pork, corn on the cob, and sweet-potato wedges, all available as side orders or mains. The Hampton is a great pub to socialise with friends in, making the sharing concept ideal.

Presented in a mixture of terracotta tapas-style dishes, wooden boards and bowls, ordering a platter was the ideal way to sample The Hampton’s food menu. The honey bourbon ribs (£6) were practically melting off the bone and had a well-balanced sticky and sweet sauce. The half-rack was wonderfully tender and a standout of the meal.

Half-rack of ribs and pulled pork at The Hampton.

Half-rack of ribs and pulled pork at The Hampton.

Other meat dishes also fared well: the buffalo wings (£5) come doused in a great homemade peri-peri sauce, awash with flecks of red chilli; the wings had both crispy skin and succulent flesh. I loved the richness and beefiness of the brisket chilli con carne (£6) and the slow-roasted pulled pork (£6) had a touch of sweetness and really melted in the mouth.

Served slightly warm, the jumbo shrimp (£7.50) were butterflied and swimming in a zesty chilli, coriander, and lime dressing. Ordering a seafood dish gave some balance to the sharing plates – and it would be great to see other fish and seafood options available.

The mac ’n’ cheese (£5.50) is made using smoked cheddar, which gives it a really deep flavour, and the portion size was gigantic – both big ticks in my book. We also tried The Heart & Soul’s rice and black-eyed beans (£2.50), which were good; the coleslaw (£2), however, suffered a major mayonnaise overload and tasted slightly too acidic.

Brisket chilli and mac n cheese.

Brisket chilli, jumbo prawns and mac n cheese.

Leonie also makes a selection of sauces (£1), including blue cheese, chipotle mayo, and a ranch dressing – all of which were excellent, especially the blue cheese.

The Heart & Soul Food Co and The Hampton have worked hard to bring some alternative pub dining to the Montpelier area of Brighton and I predict that their soul food menu will be a success.

A lot of pubs are trying their luck with smoked meats and sharing plates. But The Hampton has got it spot on.

The Hampton, 57 Upper North Street, Brighton, BN1 3FH


Originally printed in the Brighton & Hove Independent Friday 20th February 2015