From asking around it would seem that the pub has built up a bit of a reputation as a good local for dog walkers, parents with push chairs and families. For a pub of this size, and given that they have a day time café on the premises, this makes sense in my mind. A bit of research online provides a mix of opinions regarding the food, no surprises there, and so I went with an open mind – as always.
The inside of the pub is lovely and light and airy with a mix of styles. There is a café area off to the right with a fairly traditional feeling bar in the centre. The restaurant area toward the back overlooks the garden, which is where I sit to enjoy a beer before my meal. It is not the best of days but still a pleasant place to wind down after work with an ale.
We take a seat inside and look over the menu. The basic menu is pretty standard in terms of options.
There are a few starters such as soup of the day (£5.50), fried brie (£6.50) and sticky wings (£6.50).
The standard mains include fish and chips (£13.50) and a selection of burgers and pizzas that start at around the £10 mark.
The daily specials menu has the most interesting option of a pork knuckle burrito (£16.50) which is what I go for. My friend decides to give their “Green Nutty Vegan” pizza (£12.50) a try on the advice of a friendly regular. After a bit of a wait the food arrives, and first impressions are good.
The burrito is huge and comes with garlic potatoes and a plethora of other bits and pieces. It looks pretty impressive although I am not sure how much of the extras are just for show or whether they add much to the dish.
The burrito itself is really tasty with a generous helping of tender pork meat that has that classic sweet yet smoky flavour that you would expect. There is a lovely tangy chutney to cut through the richness of the burrito and the potatoes are crisp with a soft centre. I just about manage to finish the dish and feel very full.
The vegan pizza is a bit of a new one on me in that it does not have any cheese and consists mainly of greens, tahini and hazelnuts. It actually tastes pretty good although the overriding element is the chilli heat from the jalapenos – although I am a bit rubbish with spice these days. As a vegan version of a pizza it does actually work and my friend enjoys it – I do give him a bit of my burrito as well as that was what he wanted originally.
Despite being very full we go for dessert as there are some very interesting options. My friend orders the gin and cherry bakewell tart (£5.50) and I have the mint and white chocolate terrine (£6).
We have to wait for quite a while for the desserts to arrive but when they do they look very appetising.
My terrine is served with a chocolate sauce and chocolate chips and it is a real celebration of all things chocolate and I tuck in and forget all about being full.
The gin and cherry bakewell does have a slight hint of gin which is pleasant and the pastry is crisp and flaky. Unfortunately it lacks the other elements of a bakewell and so is not quite the finished article.
My overall impression of the Dyke Tavern was of pub that still had a little way to go if it wanted to be taken seriously as a food pub. There were some really nice touches on the menu and the food was pleasant without being outstanding. I think that they could probably take a look at their prices as they are a little on the high side compared to other food pubs. This is especially true of the pizzas given the quality now available in the city at a fraction of the price. The food also took too long as the pub was pretty quiet when we were there but still had to wait about half an hour for each course.
There are certainly positives in terms of the quality of the food and the staff were friendly and attentive. With some tweaks they could put out good quality pub food and become a decent venue for the local community.
The Dyke Tavern
218 Dyke Road, Brighton BN1 5AA
This review was printed in the June 10th Edition of the Brighton and Hove Independent