Fish and Chips goes with a trip to the seaside just as going to the seaside goes with Brighton. Put the two together and you've got the perfect combo. With so many places to suit all budgets serving up this fishy dish we really need a list to sort out the cod from the haddock. So, we got our thinking caps on, asked the locals on social and did a bit of research.
Apart from some really good recommendations we also noticed a few trends emerging on our list. Nostalgia, old-fashioned charm, traditional settings and long-standing local establishments seemed to keep cropping up. With that in mind this post is dedicated to all the hard work that goes into making those long-standing businesses such a success.
For those who live in Brighton a trip to the Pier is often not on their list of priorities. With a reputation for having expensive fairground rides, noisy arcades and with little else to lure the locals, it's a place where mostly tourists go. But with Brighton snobbery aside, there is still something quite special about floating above the dark blue sea and looking back at the busy and bustling coastline. It also turns into quite a magical spot at certain times of year when thousands of starlings merge into one great flock to perform an evening acrobatic display. And finally, there's a restaurant called Palm Court that serves a damn fine fish and chip supper.
On their take away menu the only fish they sell seems to be cod but a notice reads that it is sourced from sustainable and well managed fishing grounds. They have a kitchen on site to prepare and cook the food from scratch using a standard batter with no seasoning added. It's a dish that Manager Julian Clayton describes as "honest on a plate". The dining area is quite large with a plush, old fashioned air about it. There may be a bit of a deep fat smell pervading, but the team are a friendly bunch, the food delicious, the views superb and the experience pretty unique.
Outside the restaurant a board advertises that the Regency is famous for locally caught fish. This long standing institution in operation since the 1930s has a lived-in feel to match and can be found on the corner of the even more long standing Regency Square. This place gets packed with diners. On the wall a chalk board displays the Regency's Specials with options such as Scallops pan fried with sesame and chillies, Oysters Parmigiano and Swordfish Supreme.
There is seating outside, directly opposite the recently added, can't-miss i360. Inside there are long tables, smaller tables along the window and more seating on a lower level at the back, that allows them to cater to huge crowd. The number of menu options match the number of seats on offer and a plate of cod, haddock or plaice with chips, tartare sauce and lemon costs £8.20. For slightly more, £14.95 you can go for a Fish Medley Grill of halibut, salmon, plaice and sardine (selection may vary).
(Photo credit: Modern Bricabrac)
A jolly favourite of ours, even the name has a perfectly appropriate ring to it. Stylish and classy, white table cloths cover tables outside the mustard coloured listed building in East Street square. Fish has been served from this site for the last 150 years with the current occupants, the Leigh-Jones resident since 1945. Get your timings right and you can enjoy lunch in the sun, while being serenaded by some street jazz.
The waiting staff look terribly smart with their long dark blue aprons worn with white shirts and red ties. Inside a shiny marble topped bar means you can stop off for just a glass of wine and a few oysters if you prefer. Their fish comes from Newhaven fishermen and their oysters from Rossmore, Richard Haward's and Lindisfarne. Fish is offered on and off the bone with chips as a side, their menu du pecheur enables you to have 2 courses for £19.50 and 3 courses for £24.50. Ooh! What a lovely spot for the afternoon.
Keeping things super posh our next stop takes us to another restaurant with an alley-fronted bar. Riddle & Finns established in 2006 can be found at two des res locations and has built its reputation on serving fresh oysters and fish. Their first restaurant takes its inspiration from New York and Paris oyster bars with high marble topped tables and an open kitchen in Meeting House Lane.
While their seafront restaurant nestles in one of the arches with a sun terrace overlooking the sea. Chef David Roy uses winkles, whelks, cockles and crabs from the Sussex shoreline plus fish caught by Shoreham based fishermen. The fish is a little more pricey with such choices as Pan Roasted Tranche of Brill, Crab Croquette, Artichoke & Clams for £24.50. However, if you just want fish and chips you can order the catch of the day with a side order of French Fries to get your fix.
Bringing things back to basics there has been a recent addition to the colourful St James' Street that rises upwards from the Old Steine and heads east. Reach No. 119 and a new restaurant offers a fishy menu at its newly fitted out interior. It's all black and white with black high backed chairs and white table tops. On offer is a happy hour special Monday to Friday 3:30 pm - 6:00 pm for £4.95 of fish and chips.
Using a homemade crispy batter this offer stands whether eating in or taking away. The menu is limited (which is not a bad thing) with four starters, chowder, pate, whitebait and prawn salad all at £3.95 and relatively few fish dishes for the main. A copy of the menu is attached to the window overlooking the street and each dish on the menu is accompanied by a photo of the dish rather than a description. Included in this list, Fish Express offers a fish and chip dining experience without the high price tag..
Meanwhile in contrast and just the other side of the Old Steine is a long standing establishment that dates back to 1547 and is the oldest pub in Brighton. Expect Victoriana in splendid undiluted form. Crushed high-backed red velvet banquettes, matching maroon flock wallpaper, stag heads, brass plates, a row of chamber pots hanging from the ceiling, dark wooden architraves and a slight whiff of old pub, this destination oozes character. A favourite of writer Graham Greene, it gained its current name in 1790 when a keen Cricketer called Mr Jutton became the Landlord.
Bringing the place bang up to date, the menu that includes fish and chips has been given a few modern touches. Their beer battered cod comes with twice cooked chips, a pea puree, burnt lemon and a side of sour dough bread. Chef Phil Bartley uses fish caught by fisherman from nearby Newhaven and it costs £13. There are plenty of picnic tables in their covered courtyard or eat outside where a few tables provide a sunny corner with huge people watching potential.
(Photo credit: Modern Bricabrac)
This Hove institution pride themselves on doing traditional fish and chips right. The family run restaurant and takeaway have been serving the people of Brighton & Hove since 1988 and only use sustainably caught fish and locally sourced tatties. They're also one of the last remaining eateries dishing out proper London pie and mash, all the pies are handmade and filled with tasty local ingredients. Gluten or Dairy Free? Not a problem this stylish hashery has it all wrapped up. Not to mention gluten-free battered sausages, for when you’re feeling health-conscious, but not really. Each chip is lovingly laboured over and hand cut for an authentic, British tasting chip.
There's a small amount of indoor and outdoor seating if you're stopping by for a snacky lunchtime feed, but on chippy night Fridays there are ques out the door. It's worth keeping an eye on the specials as they often have tasty treats such as Soft Shell Crab in a Coconut Tempura batter, or Fiery Cod & Chilli Fish Cakes. Delish.
Olly’s Fish Shack are regulars at Brighton’s biggest Street Food Market - Street Diner. Every Friday the hungry hordes descend on Brighthelm Garden for a dose of delicious gourmet fish. Grab a decent portion of proper fish and chips covered in mushy peas or opt for one of the mouthwatering fish subs. The best seller is ‘Cilantro Dave’, a super-fresh local tempura fish fillet in a gourmet 8-inch sub, with freshly ground harissa and a coriander and lime aioli. Heavenly.
Our favourite is the ‘Sole Boy’, Fish & Shrimp, House slaw, cajun mayo, hot sauce, crisp lettuce and fresh lemon. Keep your eyes peeled for seasonal specials, the recent PO Boy Thermidor with King Prawns and Lobster Thermidor Sauce was an absolute knockout.
This Hove hostelry specialise in shellfish and craft beers, and jeesh do they do it well. On their regular menu you’ll find classic seafood staples such as Moules Mariniere and Langoustine, but their specials menu is where it gets really exciting. How good do these sound … Crab, Ginger & Shitake Dumplings with Soy dipping Sauce and Scallops with Salt Baked Celeriac, Hazelnut and Apple. Just stunning.
This freehouse stocks over 100 craft beers, and a wine list curated by a Vinology PhD graduate so you can find the perfect tipple to compliment your delicious supper. Just a short walk from Hove station this gastropub is the perfect spot for date night or a special occasion, the restaurant fills up quickly so it’s definitely worth booking in advance.
From the same stable as lauded local steak-sizzlers The Coal Shed comes this glamorous fish-focussed corner spot. Wisely ditching the chi-chi fussiness you’d expect from a former seafront hotel bar, exposed brick and pricey looking bronze lamps set the elegantly sparse contemporary tone. Get a seat on the right side of the room and gaze out at the West Pier or, according to taste, i360.
It ain’t cheap, with many dishes intriguingly (not to say coyly) billed as yours for ‘market price’. But you know it’s authentic, and magisterially well cooked. This is a seafood lover’s paradise with anything from Crab Claws to Lobster and Oysters to Scallops on the menu.
As with my previous best-of guides, this list ends with my own particular favourite, Bardsley's. Fish and Chips can't get more traditional than from one that was established in 1926. Fish and Chips is properly of the take away kind here, an option not offered by our top notch entries that somehow snuck onto this list. You can, however, also eat in.
The dining area may have reduced in recent years, losing the area dedicated to Max Miller memorabilia, but there's still room to sit in comfortably. Expect nothing fancy at this eaterie but you're likely to receive a friendly welcome and there's still some Max Miller pictures hung on the back wall. With cod, haddock, huss, plaice and skate on the take away menu and prices starting at £5.90 for a cod and chip supper, it's not the cheapest, but arguably it is the best.
(Photo credit: Modern Bricabrac)
With thanks to Sarah of Modern Bricabrac for her contribution to finding the best chippies in Brighton. Find her blog here