Review – Shakespeare’s Head
As winter slowly arrives our thoughts turn to food that warms the cockles, as well as being filling. This is where Brighton pub Shakespeare’s Head have an almighty trump card. Serving a menu concept that is strictly sausage and mash (with the occasional special thrown-in), the popular Drink In Brighton venue must be laughing the minute the temperature drops. And quite rightly so.
Situated off Seven Dials, Shakespeare’s Head is easily accessible by foot from the town centre, Brighton Station and surrounding areas. Out the front is a large, heated outdoor area that is frequently full of people enjoying post-work pints and dinner, often regardless of the weather. Deeming it too chilly for al-fresco dining, we ordered a large Argentinian Malbec and a pint of Thatchers from the bar and took up a corner table.
Decor wise, Shakespeare’s Head borders on quirky without being at all annoying. I got a sense of rock and roll from this boozer, something that is emphasised via the indie classics playing on the PA.
The menu concept is staggeringly simple, and hasn’t changed over the past six or seven years. Step one: choose a type of sausage, step two: choose a mash, step three: choose a gravy. Easy peasy – or so you’d think. With over fifteen sausages, twelve types of mash and five different types of gravy, constructing your dinner can be time-consuming. But it certainly adds to part of Shakespeare’s Head’s charm.
Sausage options include pork and cider, wild boar, lamb and mint, bratwurst, spinach and cheddar and traditional cumberland. Shakespeare’s Head also have vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available – great for those with dietary requirements – and a range of sides including roasted carrots, green beans with garlic and parsley, and buttered kale.
I chose the Lincolnshire Sausage, Creamy Leek Mash and Cider & Shallot Gravy (£8.95) and my friend had the Lentil, Mushroom and Beetroot Sausage, Savoy Cabbage & Bacon Mash and Red Onion Gravy (£8.95).
The Lincolnshire sausages were cooked well and tasted very traditional, with hints of sage and black pepper coming through. A great meat to fat ratio too. I’m told they’re supplied by a farm outside of Worthing. I can only hope the meat is organic, or at very least free-range.
Creamy leek mash was slightly on the wrong side of warm, i.e. a bit chilly in the middle and could have done with another vigorous attack with the masher to achieve a smoother consistency. Softer, more sautéed leeks would have been a plus. The cider and shallot gravy was delicious: a great consistency and sweet enough without being over-powering.
My partner described their lentil sausages as “delicious” and were more than pleased with the savoy mash and sweet red onion gravy.
To be honest, you can’t go far wrong with a large glass of red wine and a plate of bangers and mash. And for £8.95, I doubt you’ll find a more affordable plate of warming winter food in an upbeat, quintessential Brighton boozer.
Claire’s food was provided complimentary, courtesy of Shakespeare’s Head.