‘May oui’ as our refined cousins across the English channel might say – because this month has a distinctly gallic flavour to the cultural calendar.
Celluloid fans among you will naturally be aware of the Cannes Film Festival (May 14 – 25), presided over this year by Oscar winner and (cough cough) former Brighton resident Cate Blanchett.
Sporty types out there will no doubt be more attuned to the French Open tennis championships. Well, fun fact, that ditzy ‘Wimbledon’ movie was shot here…
Anyway, our awesome city has plenty of restaurants that tip a respectful beret in the general direction our chums across the channel. Here’s our pick of the best…
This smart, contemporary space a little way down from the station is a must-try for francophiles, whether for the small but perfectly-formed wine list and confident takes on classics like filet mignon, or the note-perfect brunch croissants.
81 Trafalgar St, BN1 4EB
Alright, raclette is technically swiss. But no-one nails quite like the gallic gastronomes at this sedate Seven Dials spot. Great glossy hunks of jambon, salami and gooey cheese lend heft and savour to their trademark mini spuds, washed down with a nice fat red. Parfait.
82 Dyke Rd, Hove, BN1
Proper, homely, rustic decor that nicely evokes la France profonde (just a fancy way of saying ‘the countryside’, by the way), and that’s before we’ve even got the menu: duck rilettes, fromage, charcuterie and (of course) frogs legs goujons. Get stuck in.
Sustainable biodynamic wine by the glass is the order of the day at this romantic Lanes spot, sister venue to Mange Tout (above). The menu is light and contemporary; think charred sprouting broccoli with yoghurt and hazelnuts, or for something more substantial to soak up all that goody-goody booze nosh a bavette steak with traditional ratte potatoes and fresh watercress.
1 Bartholomews, Brighton BN1 1HG
Upmarket traditional French fare that’s perfect for pre-theatre fine dining (and/or when somebody else is paying). Kick off with a liver parfait or nailed-on-classic escargots á la bourguignonne. The steaks (most notably the monster Chateaubriand sharing cut) are justly famous, but it isn’t all la-di-da fancy; croques and baguettes are just as dandy, and far easier on the pocket.
2 Ship St, Brighton BN1 1AD
If you seek a proper French brasserie, straight out of the movies, swing by this plush Hove institution. Moules mariniere, salad nicoise or confit duck leg (natch) rub shoulders with more mediterranean risottos and halloumi based dishes. Special shout out to the plating; beaucoup Instagrammable, mes amis.
6 Queen's Pl, Hove BN3 2LT
Another trad Hove bistro, occupying a fine property on the gastronomic Church Road, Le Nantais is the place to be if you fancy a wholesome, hearty bouef bourguignon, classic onion soup, coq au vin… think rich sauces, good wine, old-fashioned service. Everything you in Paris, basically, without the faff of the Eurostar.
41 Church Rd, Hove BN3 2BE
And lest we think French cooking is all sexy wine and animal cruelty, this top-rank pastry chef will whip you up a colourful macaron at his eponymous ‘salon du thé’ in town. Enjoy a nice coffee, eat sweet things and gossip away like a posh belle époque duchess.
48 Queens Rd, Brighton BN1 3XB