But let's rewind a little. If you've never visited Brighton, The Lanes where Chilli Pickle is located are an ancient maze of streets and alleyways, packed full with small independent shops. Luckily Graphic Foodie had warned me that unless I knew the area well I should allow some time to find the restaurant. Bearing this in mind, I decided to scout out the exact location during the day, cunning and sly as I am.
Thank God I did.
I walked around and around, I couldn't find it at all....."But this IS Meeting House Lane?!!!" I muttered darkly turning the map and studying it closely for the umpteenth time. Finally, after resorting to randomly plunging off down alleyways - I stumbled across Chilli Pickle, Success!....taking careful notes of surrounding landmarks I vowed to return directly later that evening.
So, with a spring in my step, a Peroni or two sloshing around in my belly and the GF in tow I strode confidently through the balmy evening in Brighton - plunging into the lanes like a man who knows exactly where he's going, I headed for Chilli Pickle like a heat-seeking missile. Stepping up to the entrance, no problem at all. Time spent in planning is rarely wasted, as they say.
Sitting down at our table, we surveyed the restaurant and very pleasant it was too. Low lighting, modern, extremely busy and buzzing...all good signs.
We ordered some Poppadoms to eat as we studied the menu, these come in two varieties Dry Roasted or Fried, the former being quite spicy. These arrived with a selection of pickles and chutneys.....but any similarity with whats on offer at your run of the mill Indian Restaurant ends there - these chutneys and dips were all freshly made and tasted fantastic.
For starters I ordered the Veg Kadak Kebab, which are spicy vegetable dumplings with melted cheese and a roast tomato and ginger concasse on the side. These were lovely, with a really unusual texture - almost like deep fried shredded wheat! (probably doing the Chef's a complete disservice with that description) But, they were lovely.
The GF ordered Aubergine and Potato Pakora, which the menu describes as crispy fritters. These came with two chutneys, tamarind and mint. She really liked these, I had taste and I liked them as well. Combined with the dips, a couple of really nice starters. But, it was the Mains I was really looking forward to.
I'd heard previously about the Award Winning Oxtail Madras, and couldn't wait to try it. The Menu description describes this dish thus "Sussex Oxtail pieces gently braised in a spiced rich gravy served with cumin pilau and spring onion riata." Slightly perturbed by the 4 red chilli symbols next to its entry on the menu, signifying pretty damn hot - I stuck out my chest, Man'd-up and ordered it anyway.
It arrived and I tucked in with gusto. Wow. Spicy! but nice....so nice in fact that I discarded knife and fork and picked each piece of Oxtail up in my hands, biting, slurping and gnawing every single piece of meat off the bone. A Vulture couldn't have done a better job.
Delicious - really good stuff - but phew - hot.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the table looking at my performance with the Oxtail aghast, my GF was eating Paneer Tikka Masala in a somewhat more refined manner. The menu describes this dish as "Indian cheese tandoor baked, served in a Tikka Masala sauce with green chilli pickles and chapattis" - It's heat quota is denoted by a solitary chilli - so fairly tame then. She really liked this, again - I had a taste (taking a break between picking at oxtail bones) and thought it was pretty nice, not as nice as my dish. But good.
Sighing and patting my now rather substantially enlarged belly, I studied the dessert menu. As I've mentioned before, I have a real weakness for any dessert containing syrup, toffee, treacle.....or in this case Maple Syrup. I greedily ordered the Maple Gulab Jaman, which is Indian sweet curd dumplings soaked in spiced maple syrup served with cardamon ice cream. Take a look at the photo, It was as delicious as it looks. Really good dessert. But......
Oh - a word about the drinks. As befitting this excellent contemporary Indian Restaurant Chilli Pickle stock a very impressive list of quality lagers, including stock from the Meantime Brewery in Greenwich to various German wheat beers.
Overall - We had a first class evening, the food was really excellent, the staff friendly and brisk and it was fantastic value at around £60. Bargain.
When your next in Brighton eat here.
42 Meeting House Lane
tel: 01273 323 824