Spitewaves are threatening
The seaside hotels
It’s good to get out of the city now and then. Once, when I was a little boy and staying with my grandparents in London, my Grandad decided it was such a nice day that he was going to take the day off and take me on a day trip to Brighton. I remember playing on the pebble beach, running along the piers and having an orange juice and a bag of crisps outside a pub while grampa had something stronger inside. I also got to see the Brighton Pavilion which at the time I thought (and still think) was completely bonkers. He explained to his employers that the red face he had acquired was due to high blood pressure.
I’ve only been back to Brighton a couple of times since then so a visit seemed long overdue. I’d heard good things about The Meadow and that it was one of the better places to eat in the area (I think the article was by über-foodie Andy Lynes). A short train ride later and I was making my way from Brighton to Hove where The Meadow is located.
When it’s wet and slightly out of season seaside towns have a melancholic quality that that I find appealing so I quite enjoyed my walk along the esplanade which was deserted save for the odd jogger and parents who had obviously press ganged their kids into taking the sea air (yes, you can play with your DS later…yes, I know it’s raining…yes, you can have an ice cream afterwards if you’re good). After all that walking, well fifteen minutes of it, I rewarded myself with a little loosener of Harvey’s Sussex Best in The Wick pub then hopped across the road for my meal.
The Meadow is all nice and light and airy inside with high ceilings and simple décor and with some strangely appropriate folk chanteuse warbling over the sound system I felt pretty comfortable.
The menu is shortish but to the point with a couple of choices of meat, fish or vegetable based dishes available for starters or mains. Everything sounds interesting and the prices are pitched at the London gastropub level. The real bargain though is the set lunch menu where two courses will set you back the grand sum of £11 which probably doesn’t get you more than a couple of Pret Sandwiches and drinks these days. Adding pud only increases the bill by another £3.
I think I’ve said before that one can usually tell what a meal is going to be like from the first taste of the food. Here it was from the first taste of the bread. Served warm and with a crisp crust and soft moist crumb I thought this is homemade and I’m going to have a really good meal.
First up a starter plate of Potted crab and brown shrimp with Celeriac remoulade. A lot of the time this dish would just taste of mayonnaise but in this instance was made so you could taste the crab and you could taste the shrimp. The remoulade was crunchy with a julienne of celeriac which provided good texture contrast and a little salad of microgreens was a lot more than an afterthought.
Fillet of Lamb had been cooked so it had a good char on the outside but kept pink within. There were more tasty microgreens including some wild garlic.
(I have to say I love microgreens. They provide loads of flavour, look good but remain light to eat.)
A word about the service here which is excellent: unfussy and relaxed but efficient. Since I was having an extra starter I’d asked for a little time in between the courses which I duly got. Before my main course came I had a little browse of the drinks list which I was surprised to see had a big range of sherries. These included a fair number from Gonzalez Byass including some of the aged varieties and the brandies. What’s also nice is that the measures are 100ml and the prices ungreedy.
Cooking fish is always a good test of a kitchen’s ability and a main course fillet of Bream passed with distinction. It was firm with nice crisp skin. Underneath there were crushed Pink Fir potatoes and some beets and greens. A small scoop of crème fraiche mixed with chives added richness and sharpness to the dish. Top stuff.
There was selection of good homemade (natch) ice cream and sorbet to follow. The latter was made with Blood Orange that was particularly apt after several courses of food. The Lepanto PX brandy served a similar purpose.
This was pretty much a flawless meal. No culinary fireworks, just assured, elegant cooking with a lightness of touch and using the great ingredients. The dishes were uncluttered by too many components but there was always enough going on to make the food interesting as well as tasty to eat. Chef Will Murgatroyd really knows his cooking er…chops.
If it was in my neighbourhood I’d want to visit at least once a week. It isn’t, unfortunately, but I hope the good folk of Hove realise what a gem they have on their doorstep. And if they don’t then I pity the fools (sorry Mr T). A big DH thumbs up.