Breakfast, lunch and dinner Brighton
OPINION

Words: Tim Wild   Photography by Tim Wild and Xavier D. Buendia (SILO)

Breakfast, lunch and dinner Brighton

The inside word from a local

You are a person of taste. You do not throw yourself into the nearest eatery and hope for the best. But gussied up tourist joints, brown things in steam trays and pre-frozen chain meals seek to trap the unwary. There are many fine places for you to eat in Brighton, but here’s my favourite three.

 

Breakfast: Mange Tout

Think of all the terrible things you’ve been served on toast: The mingy spoonful of off-brand beans. The over-poached egg, its cloudy water soaking the bread. The hastily-spread supermarket slice, spread in haste, its glob of margarine pooling in one corner.

But we always keep trying – because good things on good toast are the stuff of life. An attitude wholeheartedly embraced by the owners of Mange Tout, a cheerful bistro minutes from the station.

It serves fat, plate-covering slice of grilled sourdough, covered with the things you crave. Think Toulouse sausages, house-made tomato compote and organic Sussex eggs. Halloumi, wilted spinach and mushrooms. A Croque Monsieur, its smoked salmon slice slowly pinking in the hot béchamel. Great coffee, obviously, and pastries and natural wines and whatnot.

But you're here for breakfast. So eat up, because you're going to need it.

This is a walking city. Steep as a hotel cocktail menu and all but impossible to drive around. So wander. Buy a vaguely seditious t-shirt. Leaf through an ironically displayed soft porn novel in a flea market. Then, when you’re deep in the heart of the Lanes, pondering whether those gas-mask bongs are any fun, stop for lunch.



Lunch: Riddle & Finns

Riddle & Finns might be the only restaurant that I’ve never left unhappy.

Skint perhaps, but never unhappy.

Good things that have happened to me here:

1. I asked to keep my lobster, crab and prawn shells, to make bisque. They were returned without a murmur, carefully wrapped for odour-free transportation, accessorised with a whole lemon.
2. My 7 yr-old daughter and I got dressed up in our poshest clothes and came here for a 'fancy dinner.' The staff got the idea immediately - they draped napkins over her lap as if she were Cleopatra, made her a special ice cream and addressed her as 'Madame' throughout.
3. They serve Pol Roger White Foil, by the glass.

It’s a classic, old-school seafood and champagne house. High marble tables, wax-laden candles straight from a Dracula movie. Shellfish implements that suggest Victorian surgery. There are excellent seasonal oysters. A ‘salad’ of an entire crab, scraped out, mixed with aioli, packed into its shell and scattered with greens. Scampi of monkfish cheeks with Siracha mayo. The shellfish platter could support the weight of a small child.

Moderation is not the order of the day here. If you don’t end up glistening with butter, flecked with parsley and surrounded by fishy detritus, you’re missing the point.

By now, there’s no need to pretend you’re on some improving cultural outing. The most Brighton thing to do would be to spend the afternoon in a bar.

Dinner: Silo

Even in the current vogue for ethical dining, Silo might seem like it’s asking for mockery. It makes its own fermented drinks from ‘intercepted plants.’ There’s a giant tumble-dryer ish thing in the dining room that generates energy from food scraps. The plates are made from plastic bags.

But rather than compromising taste for principle, this ethos is what drives the quality cooking – and Silo serves some of the best food in the city. Ten dishes every night, five plant-based, five not, all blessed by serious technique and some delicate, esoteric foraging.

Local seafood is beautifully showcased with local herbs and aromatics. The wine list is formidable. The staff know what they’re taking about, and they care. And for a place that’s a bakery by day and has all its furniture made out of scrap wood, it feels surprisingly indulgent.

Leave yourself in their caring hands, order the wine flight and the cheese plate with your five courses, and tell yourself you’re doing the right thing.