Sunday 22 February 2009

A trip to Brighton....Bills Produce store and The Ginger Pig

Yesterday, having nothing else planned we drove down to Brighton for the day. You must realise that I plan days out with military precison. I research things like which places to visit, where to park, how much does it cost....and more importantly - where to eat.

Too many days out (and trips abroad for that matter) are blighted by wandering from one restaurant to the next, perusing the menu, peering through windows trying to make a snap judgement on whether your going to get heaven on a plate or a cracking case of food poisoning. Therefore I like to know where I'm eating before I even arrive.

Generally, the evening before any trip I can be found scouring food critic reviews, blogs etc compiling a complex list composed of ticks, smiley faces, stars, arrows pointing to choice pieces of information and ad-hoc maps. It no doubt represents to a casual observer the tortured scribblings of a lunatic. But it's a goldmine of info.

Yesterday my scribbled research was time well spent, and I struck the bullseye, not once but twice.

Having arrived in Brighton and parked on the sea-front by 8-30am (I like to get out, and be at my destination early!) The first order of the day was breakfast.

My seemingly scribbled by a child research indicated that the place to grab breakfast in Brighton is
Bills Produce Store a deli come restaurant of warehouse-like proportions with produce of all kinds lining the shelves that run almost the entire length of the building with benches, tables and chairs positioned around the center of the store.

We grabbed a table, and perused the menu. Knowing that I was in for some serious walking later....and with the girlfriend in tow also; no doubt, some serious shopping. I thought I'd better order something substanial from the myriad of breakfast options on offer (From porridge to Smoked Mackerel and everything in-between) - and went for 'Bills Breakfast' - a Full English affair.

My partner (having eyes bigger than her belly) ordered the same.

In seemingly the blink of an eye, two plates of 'Bills Breakfast's were deposited on our table by the friendly waitress along with two cups of excellent coffee.

Under that huge Basil leaf in the photo lurks two toast, two poached eggs, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and for good measure some really nice sausages. Now that's what I call a breakfast! and yours for £7-50, which isn't bad at all considering the quality and organic credentials of the ingredients. True to form, my partner couldn't finish hers, and purely in the interest of preventing needless waste - I stuffed the remains of her breakfast as well. Fantastic.

Setup for the day - we wandered the streets and lanes of Brighton - our little bellys (ahem)totally full, I honestly couldn't even think about food until with dusk falling, at 6pm, our minds turned to Dinner.

I'd heard about a Gastro-Pub called The Ginger Pig located in Hove. Not realising it was over two miles away, we walked down the seemingly endless seafront and after an epic journey, on top of walking around all day from 8-30am we practically collapsed through the door when we arrived. But arrive we did - and wow. What a treat!

The interior decor is very nice, and the food is seriously good. Sadly I couldn't get any photos inside, as my camera phone takes awful pictures under 'intimate' lighting conditions, and turning the flash on appeared just a tad too obtrusive dazzling other diners as they ate. I'd be very interested to know how my fellow bloggers deal with this.

An initial nice touch was the carafe of tap water already on the table, to my mind - water is water and the age of diners being fleeced for some ludicrously overpackaged, alpine mountain spring water; that's been hand strained by virgins and then; flown 2000 miles to your table but, is inderscernible to the free stuff that comes out of your tap is so over dahlings.

Foregoing starters (hungry but not that hungry after Bills Breakfast) I ordered a Rabbit, Smoked Bacon and Mushroom Suet Pudding - it came with Champ, and I ordered some buttered leeks on the side.It was quite possibly, one of the best mains I ever eaten anywhere. The suet crust was gorgeous and thin, it was crammed with tender pieces of rabbit and bacon - sublime. I ate the lot and just about stopped short of licking the plate.

My girlfriend ordered the Chickpea and sweet potato curry, and she said it was also very good. (She refused to eat Rabbit, a much loved childhood pet and traumatic memories of Watership Down have seen to that.)

On to Desert - and I ordered from the specials board, Chocolate tart with quince sorbet. My Girlfriend ordered Peanut butter parfait with Praline and Marshmallows. Now, my desert was competent - good even. My girlfriends desert was amazing. Ice cold, smooth peanut butter parfait, with a square of warm spongy marshmallow and a thin slab of crunchy praline. The taste and texture combination was amazing. My partner declared it the best desert she'd ever tasted, and I'm inclined to agree - its up there.

Altogether a really great gastro-pub, intimate, warm and buzzing - fantastic food with an emphasis on local produce. Price wise - not bad at all, my main was £10.50 which is dirt cheap, especially considering it was possibly the best main course Ive eaten anywhere!

So, my gastro pre-planning prevailed once again....into the night we departed Brighton, and drove back home to Essex, smug, satisfied and with me smiling and belching contentedly in my partners direction with the question literally hanging in the air "Does that smell like 'Thumper' to you?"

Bills Produce Store

The Depot

100 North Road


Tel: +44 (0)1273 692 894

The Ginger Pig

3 Hove street



Tel +44 (0)1273 736123


Merlotti said...

What a fantastic day - you set off a little early for my liking! If I remember before heading out, I take a 'proper' camera with me to the restaurant and am past caring what the staff or other diners thinkn(that probably says a lot about the type of person I am though!)The Ginger Pig sounds great and I'll definitely pop in if I'm ever down that way.

Dan said...

Merlotti, the sad thing is - I had a proper camera with me, a Nikon digital SLR, but it's a bit of a huge camera to be pulling out at the dinner table. I regret not getting any good pics of the food In the Ginger Pig now though, as it was so amazing.

Alex said...

The food sounds great but I'm still reeling at your start time!

Dan said...

Alex, yep, I do like to get out early - but sometimes you see something that makes it all worthwhile - once, years ago when out on the streets of Paris at some ungodly morning hour...I spied many a Parisian not conforming to the stereotype at all...I swear, every single one was toting a baguette and walking a poodle. But the smell of baking bread seemed to be almost everywhere. It was fantastic, it's also great to have the place almost to yourself in the grey morning light.

Unknown said...

I still have not been to Brighton (embarassed to admit it) so these sound like two good tips to have in hand

Graphic Foodie said...

I went to the Chili Pickle Indian bistro last night, a new place opened up in Brighton, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I recommend the oxtail madras and the curd dumplings with cardamon ice cream. They also have an Indian street menu for lunch which I am definitely going back for.

I will upload a review in the next couple of days!

Dan said...

Foodie - that Indian menu sounds fantastic. Really unusual. Next time I'm in Brighton I'll need to check that out.

William Leigh said...

I love Bill's, it's one of my fave restaurants. Great day out to be had down in Brighton, as long as it's punctuated by lunch there.