Review – The Good Food Club
Hove Kitchen was a hugely popular place that used to get packed out with families and groups of friends drawn to its affordable, crowd-pleasing food and roomy interior. It closed down – no idea why, it always seemed to be doing well – and now in its place is The Good Food Club, a family-run, all-day eaterie which really doesn’t seem that different to its predecessor.
It’s been refurbished with, crucially, the former play area (a regrettable decision by the previous owners, I imagine, with too many parents treating the place like a crèche) now a raised semi-private dining area that’d be perfect for a large group. It’s fresh and sparkling after an extensive paint job – they’ve hit neighbours Farrow and Ball hard – with loads of natural light and tons of space, which will please Hove’s many buggy owners.
The separate comfy bar area remains, too: cocktails are good and their early-evening two-for-one offer will appeal to after-work drinkers, especially now the weather’s finally nice enough to grab a sun-drenched table outside.
With a focus on local, seasonal produce – I had a chat with owner and all-round lovely guy Ed Cootes about the Hove suppliers he uses – I admire their ethos and support of local businesses. The Good Food Club is an ambitious name for this new venture, though. Was the food as good as promised? Well, I found some great, some a little disappointing.
Marinated, sticky chicken wings (£7.95 for six) weren’t what I expected. I was hoping for something glazed, messy and deeply savoury, but these appeared to have been tossed in flour and lightly fried, with a passing sugary sweetness. The meat was top quality, succulent and falling off the bone, but they weren’t the filthy, finger-licking gorgeousness most chicken wings deliver.
The blue cheese dip served alongside was perplexing: even after a good 20 minutes it remained completely solid. I’m still wondering whether I was accidentally served the blue cheese butter that comes with the rib-eye steak.
After a disappointing start, my chargrilled 10oz prime Sussex rib-eye steak (£18.95) was spot on: tender, again a great-quality cut, cooked exactly as I asked and seasoned well. I chose truffle butter (an extra £1.50), while underwhelming skinny fries (bought in, I suspect) were yet another £3.50.
Thankfully there’s more affordable stuff on the menu, such as the classic burger for £8.95 (chips not included), and my friend really enjoyed her special of sticky (yes, properly sticky!) pork ribs with chips and salad, all for a tenner.
A caramelised banana terrine with salted caramel ice cream and rum custard (£6.95) was the best course of the three, special mention going to the deliciously rich homemade ice cream.
Versatile places like this are really handy. Brunch, roasts, lunch, dinner, cocktails, outdoor seating and a kids menu: they’ve got every area covered and the food is tasty, well-cooked and thoughtfully sourced.
From the décor to the food and music, it’s all a little predictable and safe, though as a parent myself, I know this is often exactly what families (and large groups) require from a restaurant. I hope, and have no doubt, that the Good Food Club does really well in this prime location in the heart of Hove.
The Good Food Club -102-105 Western Road, BN3 1FA
First published in the Brighton & Hove Independent on 22 May 2015