Review – Preston Park Tavern
The Preston Park Tavern has under gone some major changes recently since being taken over in March by independent pub group Indigo; some changes welcomed by the community, some are still unsure. However, what hasn’t changed is the welcoming atmosphere, great service and high quality gastro and pub food.
Preston Park Tavern stands bold as brass on the corner of Havelock Road, unmissable and basking in sunlight. A mix between a family friendly pub and a sit-down gastro experience, Preston Park Tavern was heaving with all walks of life, even on a fairly average Wednesday. Couples, family gatherings, groups of friends drinking pints and copious amounts of laughter. Sat in the more formal area of the pub, we looked at the menu before ordering at the bar.
Serving a mix of quintessential gastro-pub dishes and traditional pub food, the Preston Park Tavern has clearly worked hard to provide a menu that caters for all. Dishes include spiced South Downs lamb kofta, sautéed squid and chorizo, roast fillet of gurnard, harissa glazed mackerel and chargrilled burgers served in a brioche bun. You can even view the chefs at work through a large, open plan hatch; great to pop over and watch them carefully assemble your meal if you so wish.
The team have also ensured that people popping in for a post work pint are catered for with the Preston Park Tavern selling a selection of homemade bar snacks including pork scratching with a fennel and rosemary salt and sausage roll with sesame seeds. This coupled with a huge selection of British and world craft beers, alongside Sussex Ales including Brewdog, Meantime, Darkstar and Firebird, why bother going elsewhere for that swift one on the way home?
Opting for the Chicken, Pork and Pistachio Terrine – with piccalilli and toasted sourdough (£6.50) to start and the Roast Lamb Chop – with wild garlic mash, asparagus & red wine jus (£13) for main proved to be wise choices.
Scattered with crunchy pistachios, compact and compressed with a combination of meats, the terrine was a thing of beauty. Too thick for any spreading on the Flint Owl Bakery sourdough, the terrine was gobbled up in slices alongside a sweet yet sharp homemade piccalilli. Brilliant texture and a glorious after taste, the terrine at Preston Park Tavern already had me hooked.
Following the wonderfully meaty terrine with the lamb chops was a bold move as both dishes were very meat centric. And I’m not exaggerating when I say the chops were over an inch thick. Keeping the Preston Park Tavern as local as possible, the team source their meat from the local butcher Barfields and it’s of a very high quality indeed.
The lamb was cooked until just pink in the centre and lightly scorched on the outside giving it an almost smokey flavour. Served on a bed of wet yet creamy wild garlic tinged mashed potatoes and seasonal asparagus, the lamb was drizzled in a sultry, fruity jus; the perfect accompaniment to the bottle of Rioja we were drinking (£13.95). The only thing letting this dish down was the presentation; more care and attention to detail and this plate would have been spot on.
Preston Park Tavern isn’t reinventing the wheel with its range of gastro pub food, however, it is of a higher quality than most residential pubs, especially those in the Five Ways/London Road area. Hats off to Indigo for snapping up this family-friendly, relaxed and welcoming pub and making change worthwhile.
Preston Park Tavern, 88 Havelock Road, Brighton. 01273 330517
Words and photographs by Claire Beveridge.