The Independent in its travel section ran an interesting feature on 48 hours in Brighton. In the restaurant section they recommended The Salt Room and the Little Fish Market. I have never visited the latter so off I went with a French girlfriend last night.
It’s a small restaurant in Hove with a five course tasting menu priced at £50 payable only in cash. The wooden seats were uncomfortable and the bare table basic. Looking around the decor was mediocre with a few pictures for sale on the walls. The colour scheme was bland. Given the success of the place it could do with a makeover.
The first course of smoked salmon served with a horseradish salsa arrived and was extremely good. This was followed by a lobster risotto which was equallly tasty. Then the meat course of beef with oyster mushrooms pleased us both. The tasting menu is a hard back to cuisine nouvelle as the portions were small but therea are five of them. The cod serve in a lobster sauce was the least flavoursome. The desert was a chocolate concoction with beer scotch.
The restaurant has one waiter and one chef which must make it hard work. The waiter got off to bad start by spilling a glass of mineral water over the table and my French Friend. He was suitably contrite. A blue-eyed dark haired boy, he could mop me up anytime!!! He was friendly but not to the point of obtrusive and we had an interesting gossip on Brigiton restaurant life.
I was not wholly convinced that the Little Fish market deserved its high billing – they are going for a Michelin star. I believe diners would expect more menu choice. Given its size and success, I hope they do not take the route of 64 Degrees of opening and shortly closng a much bigger restaurant on the assumption of greater custom after noteworthy reviews.
There is a tendency of us critics to assume we can determine the success of a restaurant. In some cases to flatter can be to break them. I was recommended Ken Howard’s autobiography by Alice Mansfield. He wrote of one artist who was doing well, attracted a favourable critique and hardly sold a picture afterwards. Anyway most diners now go to Tripadvisor first which I think is sad as you don’t know the name of the reviewer, his authenticity, whether he has any qualifications to assess and the motives for publications.
For what is worth if I had to recommend Brighton restaurants it would be English’s for traditional seafood, Sam’s Bistr and 64 Degrees for cuisine and the Regency for value.