I have a very vivid memory from childhood of my Uncle David (hey, Uncy Dave if you’re reading) opening and slurping oysters by the dozen at my grandparent’s dining table. That dining table was a huge focus of fun, food and entertainment as a child, whether that be my grandad cheating at cards (every damn time), my grandma serving her famous meat pie (when we found out after years of eating it that she had been using tinned meat, we were gobsmacked), me lining up the dominos and knocking them down time and time again, or the time my brother realised the salad cream he was eating wasn’t just years out of date, but had gone red… red?! His face…
The oyster memory however is one that I laugh at, mainly because I was disgusted at the time at how my uncle could be knocking back such creepy, disgusting, slimy morsels of rankness. Fast forward two decades and I realise I must have inherited his obsession, as I cannot get enough of them. And it’s not just oysters, I’ll inhale pretty much any morsel of seafood you put in front of my gob. It won’t be a surprise that I’ll dedicate a few posts to seafood over the coming weeks/months.
For now, it is time to share with you my top places to get seafood in Brighton. Three restaurants (for now) and one fishmonger. I have spent a fair bit of time and money in these places and have never been disappointed.
Riddle & Fins – The Lanes
This was the first restaurant I ever visited in Brighton. My boyfriend, who is equally as nutty about seafood as me, knew I’d love it… and he wasn’t wrong. For any Londoners reading, this place reminds me of Randall & Aubin, the loud buzzy seafood joint in Soho, co-owned by chef Ed Baines, which has been going since 1996. The music might be too quiet to hear through the buzz, but that buzz is what makes it great. Since opening in 2006, diners have been sharing high tables with other diners (which has made for some very interesting visits!) The bottle green frontage of the restaurant, which is tucked away in the maze that is Brighton Lanes, is complemented by rustic interior and impeccable service.
The menu offers a range of both raw and cooked seafood, all literally perfect. I’ll always start off with some oysters, perhaps with a spoonful of caviar if I’m feeling fancy. I’ll follow it with sashimi, maybe a bit of crab or some langoustines, then the linguine. The wine list also doesn’t disappoint. A bit of chalbis? Or perhaps a nice reisling? Yes please.
This was one of the first restaurants I ever visited in Brighton. Despite being blown across the street and soaked with sheet rain as we approached on a rank winter’s evening, I loved the whole experience.
One of the best dishes I’ve eaten here is a whole salt baked piece of fish. The waiter brought it over to the table and duly cut the top off – love a bit of restaurant theatre. My favourite dessert on the menu is also a lot of fun – a sweet take on a funfair treats, apt with Brighton Pier within view.
You don’t have to go on a cold, blustery and rainy day. In fact, you’d be better off going on a summer’s day and making the most of the amazing terrace out front. Sit back and relax with a glass (or two, or three, or four) of crisp white vino, some tasty seafood and a sea view.
Address: 106 King’s Rd, Brighton, BN1 2FU
Brighton & Newhaven Fish Sales
This is not a restaurant. I repeat, this is not a restaurant. I wouldn’t want you to get to this little shack and be disappointed because someone isn’t cooking your fish for you. However, this place sells the best fish I’ve come across in Brighton – what is best is that it is literally fresh from the boat, as the shack backs onto the water, where the fishing boats head out from daily.
Not all of the fish here is locally caught, but what isn’t is still as fresh (and delicious) as anything. I have bought tuna to make (slice) sashimi, gilthead bream for the BBQ, prawns the size of my head (no joke), tiny prawns, oysters, seabass, skate wings, monkfish cheeks, you name it… I’ve bought it!
They have even had the foresight to think about the accoutrements to certain dishes and you’ll find a range of store cupboard ingredients, as well as cured and smoked fish, plus cured meats. Oh, and there are a few freezers with various different bits and bobs, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Service is with a smile and they’ll clean / gut the fish for you too, if you like.
The Urchin, Hove
The first time I ever ate a whole crab was at The Urchin. I’m going to say something a little controversial here… I prefer crab to lobster. There, I said it! Haters gonna hate, but I don’t care, I just don’t understand why someone wouldn’t opt for the soft, sweet taste of a crab, over the tougher and more savoury taste of a lobster. I know, I know, a lot has to be said for how the lobster is cooked / flavours that go with it etc… but crab still wins in my eyes.
The Urchin is a pub tucked in a residential street in Hove. I have been a few times, but I always look forward to my next visit. They serve whole crab in metal bowls, along with all the juices you need to mop with bread.
But it isn’t just crab here, oh no. The pub always has changing specials, which are equally as delicious. Go on, have a look at the menu… then book a table.