The knowledge: Fran Villani’s guide to eating out in Brighton

Brighton is known as a popular seaside destination with a lively after-hours scene, but its dining options are just as attractive, with more restaurants per person than anywhere in the UK outside of London.

Fran Villani runs The Graphic Foodie blog, a repository of her own family recipes (from the Abruzzo region of Italy), her food-related designs, book recommendations and reports on Brighton restaurants and food events.

She shares her recommendations of the best places to eat out in Brighton in the latest instalment of The Knowledge…



The most memorable dish I’ve been served in Brighton…

I’ve had a few memorable dishes that I care to forget but I guess you mean positive memories! One that has stuck in my mind for a while is the Tandoori Venison with curried apples and cherry chutney dish that The Chilli Pickle did a couple of Christmases ago which was pretty special. Most of their food is memorable stuff.

The place I keep going back to…

I have a bank of favourites that I can rely on for decent, solid cooking. Sam’s of Brighton for good quality, unpretentious food. The Chilli Pickle for dazzling regional Indian food. The Gingerman Group, particularly The Ginger Pig and The Ginger Fox are worth a visit. Plateau and The Little Fish Market Restaurant are becoming new favourites of mine too.

My favourite place for a quick, no-fuss bite to eat…

For a quick lunch I’ll pop into one of our great cafés in the North Laine or maybe grab a take-away box packed with filling veggie treats from Iydea.

Terre a Terre
[Veggie cuisine at Terre a Terre]

My favourite place for veggie food…

Terre a Terre, the Brighton vegetarian institution, always think outside the box with their food. They are inventive and often quirky, but in a good way.

The best place for seafood…

For fish dishes The Little Fish Market Restaurant would be hard to beat. If you want ostentatious displays of seafood washed down with lashings of Champagne, then I would say Riddle & Finns.

The best place to go for a special occasion…

Fine dining in its true sense is a little lacking in the city. Maybe we’re all a bit too relaxed for that. I would be happy in any of my regulars or maybe pack a luxury hamper with all my favourite treats, a bottle of fizz from Ridgeview and head to the beach or on the Downs.

The Little Fish Market
[The Little Fish Market]

What I think sets Brighton’s dining scene apart…

The variety in terms of culture, price point and venue, plus the audience it caters for, particularly our vegetarian and vegan diners. There are far more independent boutique restaurants than big chains and long may that fact hold true.

Brightonians are rather unique people and the local dining scene reflects this. We also have huge Food Festivals throughout the year as well as our first street food market, which opened at the end of April.

For something a little different, a visit to one of our pop-ups or underground restaurants, some run by established chefs, would be worth a try.

Restaurants which have impressed me recently…

There are a few new kids that have really elevated the dining scene in the city. The Little Fish Market Restaurant is an unassuming little place tucked away in the back streets, but the food is amazing. The chef and owner, Duncan Ray has a really impressive CV, including the Fat Duck. The last meal I had there recently was one of the best that I have ever had in Brighton. Ever.

Boho Gelato
[The ice cream range at Boho Gelato]

My perfect foodie day/night in Brighton…

By day I’d like a casual but sophisticated lunch at Plateau, sharing one of their mixed boards with goat curd, smoked salmon and chorizo with a glass of local sparkling wine. Then I’d go grazing for a sweet treat around some of my favourite hotspots, either a few jewel coloured macaroons at Julien Plumart Salon du The or a scoop or two at Boho Gelato.

By night I’ll start off with a cocktail, somewhere like Hotel Du Vin‘s bar then simply head to one of my favourite restaurants and tuck in for the night. I’m often last to leave!

Read more from Fran at The Graphic Foodie, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook

View Fran’s Brighton food recommendations on the map:

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Do you have your own Brighton food recommendations? Would you like to share your tips for this series?

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