As I was meeting Nancy Bright Thompson for lunch, I was mindful of her comment that travel writers are not that interested in writing about the cheap end of the market. It’s much the same with us restaurant critics, who are rather too easily seduced by sophisticated PR and the celebrity cult. Essentially a celebrity chef is a clever business operation by which the restaurant critic is too easily ensnared.
Thus I chose one of my favourite Birghton venues, one much trusted by the locals, the Regency – which is on the front, on the borders with Hove actually. It’s a large attractive place, once the elegant residence of Harriet Mellon, wife of Thomas Coutts and 11th Duke of St Albans. She was reputed to be the richest woman in Europe. In 1976 two Cypriot students at Brighton Poly, Emilio and Robert Savvidas, started the restaurant and have run it since. It’s based on the simple formula of well cooked fresh fish at a reasonable price. Although I booked to ensure a table overlooking the front, the restaurant was not full.
We both ordered fish and chips. Nancy went for the haddock, me the plaice. Last time I chose the hot seafood, a enormous platter for two comprising lobster, scallops and langoustines, which at £42 was sensational value. The fish was fresh and the batter crunchy rather than soggy or greasy. It arrived with chips and garden peas. I treated myself to 6 oysters and, with 3 glasses of wine, the bill came to well under £50. The service was attentive and the cheerful staff Spanish. Throughout Brighton I noticed a preponderance of Spaniards. When I treated myself to a outfit in Calvin Klein, the assistant was Spanish, as were the 3 at Sport Direct where I bought trainers for the boys. All purchases were at most reasonable prices.
The Regency is excellent value, reliable in its cuisine and I could not recommend it strongly enough. English is the most famous restaurant for fish, Havanas the most expensive for fine dining, but the locals will go to The Regency every time.