Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Essex Eating in Brighton - Chilli Pickle.

Last week saw myself and the GF spend a couple of days in Brighton. As is usual for me, I had planned where to eat beforehand, enlisting the help of fellow Food Blogger, Brighton based Graphic Foodie, who had highly recommended Chilli Pickle, which is located in The Lanes, so on our first night that's where we headed first.

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......

The GF picked the winner here, Pistachio Kulfi with cherry compote and honeycomb. Honestly, this was incredible. Really simple dish, but the flavours went together so well. She was really impressed with this, as was I - when I managed to get my spoon in there and steal a little taste.

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.
So thanks again to Graphic Foodie for the recommendation, and now I'm passing on the recommendation to you....with bells on.
When your next in Brighton eat here.

Chilli Pickle
42 Meeting House Lane
Brighton House

tel: 01273 323 824


franmouse39 said...

Excellent review, Dan - tummy rumbling here in Tottenham.

Graphic Foodie said...

Ha yeah, "Meeting House Lane", not exactly a great meeting place eh!

So glad you enjoyed it, looks like word is spreading - this place is busy, busy, busy. I pray that their high standards don't slip and their prices stay low!

Cheers for the heads up on the Pistachio Kulfi. Next time I'm going for that (AND the Maple Gulab Jaman, oink)

Kate said...

I've heard nothing but good stuff about this place. Looks like a trip to Brighton is in order! I've linked to your review on brighton-eating - hope that's ok.

Dan said...

Thanks Fran - it's a really nice restaurant.

Graphic Foodie, thanks again for the heads up - great recommendation! Honestly, the Pistachio Kulfi was awesome....but then so was the Maple Gulab Jaman. Great stuff.

Kate - Thanks, that's fine.

Boo said...

I've never heard of Chilli Pickle before and have been underwhelmed by places I've eaten at in the Brighton lanes. Clearly it's worth doing your research and taking advantage of foodie contacts! Love the sound of the oxtail madras. Not sure i'm man enough but i'd give it a go!

foodieguide said...

Oxtail Madras? That looks like something I would really enjoy with relish. And eat with my hands too! But I wonder when I'll next go to Brighton...

The Ample Cook said...

OOOh that looks like an excellent meal. You visit some great places Dan. Where are you going next?

Dan said...

Boo - next time consult Graphic Foodie before chancing your arm in Brighton :) I know a few decent places now as well. The Oxtail Madras was very hot, but very nice.

FoodieGuide - next time your in Brighton, you should give it a try.

Jan, thanks - I have a review of the Ginger Fox to write up, which is just outside Brighton....and then I have nothing planned or booked apart from Nuremberg in December.