It was my 10 year anniversary a few weeks ago. Normally in pre-covid times, I probably would have booked a holiday abroad. However, a year and a half since lockdown, as much as I’d love to jet off on a plane and go to somewhere with golden sands and guaranteed sunshine, the hassle of testing and the anxiety of waiting to see which countries go on the “green list” for all of 2 minutes is just too much. Who would have thought we would still be in this situation in 2021?!
Nevertheless, I decided to have another staycation like I did last year with Bournemouth and visit the hip seaside town of Brighton. Despite the weather living up to its quintessential Summer Britishness, Brighton did not disappoint.
Here’s the top 10 restaurants and bars to visit when in Brighton aka the Shoreditch of Sussex.
Riddle & Finns
With its flagship restaurant located in the quaint, narrow streets of The Lanes, Riddle & Finns is a must visit when in Brighton. If you’re not into seafood, read on. If you’re a seafood lover however, this is hands-down one of the best seafood restaurants I’ve ever been to in the UK.
Whether you opt for views on the sea at their newly opened beach location for that holiday feeling, or whether you want more of a cosy, almost pub-like feel, be sure to book in advance or get down to the restaurant a few hours before you’d like to eat and put your name on the waiting list. It’s a ball ache to book, but absolutely worth it.
It is so much more than an oyster & champagne bar; from whole malaysian style crab to glistening buttery lobster, it is bound to tantalise your seafood tastebuds. To top it off, the service is one of the best we experienced in Brighton.
A must visit seafood restaurant with two locations in Brighton; either on the beach or in the midst of The Lanes.
The Salt Room
Located opposite the beachfront, The Salt Room is a Michelin star restaurant which specialises in grilled fish & meat. I was worried when I booked this prior to our trip because it meant we would be visiting 2 fish restaurants 2 nights in a row, however I’m so glad we did. As they celebrate cooking both meat & fish over coal, we opted to make our own surf & turf so that we could get the best of both of their specialisties.
From oysters and scallops to start, to platters of shellfish and ribeye steaks for mains, The Salt Room Brighton caters for all. It’s not too expensive for a Michelin star restaurant either; we were pleasantly surprised. They had an amazing, extensive wine list too which helped us discover our now found favourite wine; Xinomavro.
Affordable Michelin star restaurant specialising in grilled fish & meat with a terrace overlooking the sea.
Before visiting Brighton, I’d obviously had a look at which restaurants to visit. Mangetout came up quite a few times but I unfortunately couldn’t get a table. As we went to explore the wonderfully bright and colourful North Laine Market, we walked past Mangetout on the way; just as we had started to get hungry too. Fate much?!
Since we had dinner at The Salt Room booked that evening, we decided to keep it light which independent bistro Mangetout was great for. Known best for their brunch menu, they also serve a seasonal, daily changing menu of small plates which looked delightful also. To be honest, anywhere that serves bread, cheese, charcuterie and organic wines has me sold, but the croissant with raclette cheese was to die for!
I didn’t get time to enjoy one, but the orange wine looked out of this world too. Pretty much everyone in the restaurant had one in their hand so it must have been great.
Laidback independent bistro serving brunch and small mediterranean plates and organic wines.
I must admit, I didn’t actually find this hiddem gem myself. It was once we’d got speaking to our waitress at The Salt Room that she recommended Oeuf to us. “Do you like gigantic fried crumpets?” she asked. I mean I can’t say I’ve had one before, but I’m absolutely here for it.
Despite not being able to reserve a table, we headed straight to Hove the next morning to try and get in. It’s a little hard to find as it’s located on a residential street (by the way the houses in Brighton are beautiful), but this just made it even more worth while. It’s so nice to find somewhere a little off the beaten track which only the locals are likely to know about.
As we arrived to the flower arched and pampas grassed entrance to what appeared to be a gigantic Georgian house, I was a little weary that my fiancé wouldn’t want to step into this Instagrammable wonderland. However once he had a tower of frumpets (french toast battered crumpets) in front of him, he was in his element.
Girls, Oeuf is a must visit for Saturday brunch.
Aesthetically pleasing hidden brunch spot in the heart of Hove, serving stacks of frumpets and homemade breakfast nugs.
Lost in the Lanes
As the name coincidentally (I think not) implies, Lost in the Lanes is a contemporary cafe located amongst the famous windy passages of The Lanes which you can so easily keep circling round and round and get lost in.
Serving a wide range of wholesome and veggie friendly breakfast and brunch dishes, Lost in the Lanes cafe was a great way to kick-start our day. We both opted for the LOST breakfasts which was a play on the full English, but everything tasted so fresh and even healthy. Full English & healthy do not usually go in the same sentence, but the organic and free range produce really gave it that extra oomph.
To top it off, my coffee was garnished with glittery coffee beans, there was pampass grass hanging from the ceiling, and the marketing was very clever and intriguing. Every word written on the wall had lost the letter “o”. Get it?
We also couldn’t resist getting a cheesecake brownie to take away with us from the counter too.
Clean, mimimalistic cafe serving a variety of wholesome veggie friendly breakfast dishes, coffee and fresh baked goods.
Despite booking a table at Rockwater before arriving in Brighton, we unfortunately didn’t get to visit. I’d booked a table on the terrace for a few after dinner drinks to enjoy the amazing view, however we were longer than we anticipated at our dinner at Riddle & Finns as we didn’t get down there early enough to get our names on the waiting list, so we missed our table at Rockwater and was unable to get another table booked for the rest of our stay.
What drew me to Rockwater though was the absolute holiday vibes it emits. It looks like a beach club in Ibiza right? The drinks looked a little pricey but would be worth it just to get that holiday beach bar feel whilst on staycation.
Whether you want to visit to see the sunrise whilst doing a spot of yoga before indulging in some brunch, or enjoy the sunset with a cocktail in hand, Rockwater looks like just the place.
Beach bar & restaurant on Hove beach boasting gorgeous views of the sea with a roof terrace.
Another one we booked but didn’t get to try was the highly recommended Plateau. We had Plateau booked for our first night however earlier that week, an unprecedented event took the nation by storm; England had made it to the semi-finals of the Euros!
As the restaurant wouldn’t be playing the game, we regrettably had to cancel the booking to find somewhere that was. We said we would definitely visit another day either for lunch or dinner but of course, couldn’t get another booking.
Not only were we recommended to visit Plateau by a number of friends, it comes up in almost every article you find when searching for “best restaurants in Brighton”. Admittedly, Plateau doesn’t look like everyone’s cup of tea as it has a daily changing menu, often featuring some adventurous meats such as pheasant, however it definitely looks worth a try. Especially for their natural wines and sharing plate culture.
Rustic, buzzing restaurant serving daily-changing sharing plates, focused on the produce available on the day and by season.
Located in MyBrighton hotel (which is actually where we stayed and turned out to be a great base for exploring Brighton), Merkaba is a cool, classy bar serving artisan cocktails.
We arrived to the hotel on a Saturday night and there were queues to get into the bar. Everyone was dressed up, glasses were clinking and if we weren’t in such a mad panic to find somewhere to watch the Euros semi-final, would have headed straight in there.
Ever changing vibrant cocktails in a contemporary and relaxed environment.
The Druid’s Head
On our way to the explore The Lanes, we came across this beautiful little square which resembled the likes of Belgium. Cobbled streets, old-bricked buildings and colourful buntings floating from the lamposts, The Druid’s Head was the perfect place to enjoy an aperitivo and watch passers by of the busy square from their little front terrace.
Traditional reasonably priced British pub located in the pretty square of Brighton place.
The Gin Tub
The Gin Tub was another place recommended to us by our lovely waitress at The Salt Room. We had every intention of having a drink before leaving Brighton on our last day but the weather was just not on our side so we decided to get on the road and beat the traffic.
Although we didn’t get to visit, The Gin Tub is a world famous cocktail bar in Hove serving international gin in pretty settings. Whether you’re a gin enthusiast and want to visit The Gin Tub for a tasting session, or whether you just want to sit back and enjoy a few glasses of flavoursome gins which you can order from the quirky dial o’phones on the tables, The Gin Tub is for you.
Serving gins from all around the world in beautiful floral settings.
I hope this blog post has given you a flavour of what Brighton is like and some inspiration about where to visit and #discoverdifference. If you’ve been before or will be visiting soon, let me know in the comments below!