Despite its name the New Club is not so new these days. Having built up a reputation for its brunch and burgers they have launched an evening menu that they hope will be just as successful. Taking inspiration from the casual dining of New – having never been I will have to take their word for it – I was invited to have taste of the new menu and a cocktail or two; it was an offer I could not refuse.
With a fantastic seafront location overlooking the West Pier the restaurant occupies a prime spot at the bottom of Preston Street. The neutral décor is broken up by a mural of New York style tenements occupying one wall. They have recently refurbished a downstairs room which can be used for larger groups and would be ideal for a private party or family get together.
The menu is designed with the option to share smaller plates as well as larger main meals using the smaller plates as starters; I opted for the second. While I waited for my food I sat at the bar and ordered a Hemingway Daiquiri (£7.50). Named after the American writer and liquor aficionado it was a delicate and fruity beverage that lifted my post work mood.
Not content with one starter I went for two (all priced at £6.50). First up the crispy chilli squid which was meltingly soft – none of your chewy rubbery nonsense here. The coating was not as crisp as I would have liked, which was a shame, but there was a black pepper heat to it rather than spicy chilli that I enjoyed. The accompanying Tom yum aioli could’ve been more prominent as I could not get the flavour.
My second starter of polenta chips was a sizeable portion of surprisingly light but filling salty chips with a mild chilli heat. Polenta can easily be stodgy and tasteless, thankfully these absolutely weren’t. They came with a refreshing goats cheese cream with a beetroot crumb; Very enjoyable all round.
Feeling slightly more full than I had planned I ordered my second cocktail of the evening, a Dutch Old Fashioned (£8). Based around the Grandfather of gins, Bols Genever, this cocktail is one of the stronger options on the menu. Despite its high alcohol content it was a surprisingly smooth concoction that left a fading memory of absinthe on the palette as its calling card.
My main of slow smoked pork (£12) was a very generous serving that was both tender and flavoursome. It came with a Korean BBQ sauce (not sure what makes it Korean) that was sweet and lightly spiced. The veg was courtesy of a parsnip puree and – not so trendy – Brussels sprouts. I’m a sprout fan and these were cooked as I like with a good amount of bite and a slight caramelisation on the edges. The puree had a very delicate sweet flavour that you could taste when eaten on its own but got a little lost with the smokey meat.
The desserts were very new on the menu and I opted for the lemon tart (£4.50) as I was feeling quite full – the treacle pudding with Jack Daniels sauce sounded great. I asked for vanilla rather than coconut ice cream as I am not a fan, and the staff were happy to oblige. The tart had a biscuit like base rather than a traditional sweet shortcrust giving a savoury backdrop. The tart itself had a nice natural lemony tang which was not over sweet or sharp. The consistency of the filling was, however, not quite right; I would have prefered it to be slightly firmer. A blueberry compote added a striking colour contrast although not much in terms of flavour.
I washed my dessert down with a Stark and Dormy (£7) which is a take on the traditional dark and stormy rather than a typo. Made with ginger and Kraken rum with Aperol bitters adding a pleasing bitter twist this was a layered cocktail that was lively and changeable in character.
The New Club offers an inexpensive casual dining experience that is not just for hipster burger eaters or brunching tourists. The menu has a very American BBQ feel with ribs, hot wings and meaty mains featuring heavily. The extensive cocktail list is a great touch – featuring some of their own flavoured spirits – plus there are American style beers to choose from and Brighton Bier on tap. The New Club may not appeal to the more discerning diner but its laid back environment and solid menu will resonate well with others.