On the evening on Monday the 20th February, Brighton’s restaurant community came together to celebrate the announcement of this year’s Brighton’s Best Restaurant Awards. Now in its second year these awards have already become the most hotly anticipated in the city. Voted for by local chefs, restaurateurs, producers, bloggers and writers, they represent the opinion of the people who help make Brighton the food destination it is. Awards and accolades are always a great boost to a restaurant, and to be recognised by your peers and people in the food business are what makes these awards a little bit special.
As with last year, the awards were announced at Brewdog Brighton at an event that is always one to remember. The atmosphere was jovial and lively, with just a hint of tension in the air. This wasn’t anything to do with the awards themselves, most were just concerned about who was going to be in the firing line of host Euan MacDonald once he got on stage. Just like last year Euan did not disappoint, or hold back, putting on a performance that had the room in stitches within minutes. It is all in good humour and everyone takes it on the chin. On a personal note I was very pleased to get a mention, accompanied by a delightful photo, alongside some of Brighton’s other fantastic food bloggers and writers such as Graphic Foodie, Foodie Eshé, Rosie Posie’s Puddings and Pies and Andrew Kay.
The room was crammed with the brightest and best chefs from across the city, all enjoying a beer or three and a rare night away from the kitchen. To see all these talented and passionate people in one place cements in my mind how great Brighton’s food scene has become; not to mention how exciting its future is looking.
Brighton’s top 20 Restaurants
Once the introductions were over it was time to get on with the awards. Not wanting to keep people away from their drinks for too long, the awards were announced in fairly quick succession. A full list of the awards is at the end of this post so I will not go through them all now. I was really pleased to see one of my favourites, Fourth and Church, included this year making it to number 20. These guys are creating some of the best food in Brighton and Hove, and I really hope this makes more people take notice of them.
Other awards of note were the inclusion of shell fish and craft beer aficionados, The Urchin, making it on the list at number 17. Semolina improved their ranking squeezing into the top 10 which is a great achievement. Newly opened Cin Cin also deserve a mention coming in at number 6 which is amazing seeing as they only opened in November. They also took the award for Best Welcome which awards a venue for their front of house, “We opened in November, so I’m speechless to have been recognised so soon,” said Cin Cin owner David Toscano. “Our aim was to give Brighton the Italian food it deserves, so we’re so pleased that people have understood what we’re doing.”
A new award for Brighton’s Best Roast was included this year and The Dizzy Gull, based at the Brighton Beer Dispensary, took the award to much applause. This was a popular win for a pub affectionately referred to as “a sweaty ball sack of a pub”, or something along those lines, by our host. From speaking to Cody afterwards I believe that they are going to proudly adopt this description for future marketing material. Dizzy Gull, which is operated by the guys from The Set, is putting out some fantastic food and is well worth a visit if you are in town.
Whilst we are talking about The Set I should make you aware that they are holding a special event on the 9th April called “Too Many Critics” to raise money for Action Against Hunger. This dinner will see the tables turned and will see six local food writer and bloggers, including yours truly, in the kitchen cooking a six course tasting menu. I am delighted to have been asked to take part and hope that we raised lots of money for this fantastic charity, and don’t poison anyone in doing so.
Brighton’s Top Five Restaurants
It would be hard to argue with the top five restaurants, and they are all very deserving of their recognition. Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Japanese grill restaurant, Bincho Yakitori, came in at number 2. Owner Dave Milney was a little bit gobsmacked, but the rest of us weren’t. Bincho is one of my favourite places to eat, and I do not know a single person that doesn’t love it. They have shown that the most important thing about a restaurant is putting out good food, “We are no frills, but people don’t care,” said Dave. “They’re not interested in the weight of the cutlery or having table clothes. They just want good food.”
With The Set coming in at 5, Little Fish Market at 4 and The Chilli Pickle at number 3 it was no surprise to see 64 Degrees retain their top spot. It was another double victory for 64 Degrees with head chef Michael Bremner also winning Best Chef for the second year running. “I’m totally blown away,” said 64 Degrees chef and owner Michael Bremner, after receiving the top award. “I really didn’t expect it again because Brighton has so many good chefs and restaurants. We eat out in this town all the time and we’re constantly impressed with what everyone else is doing.”
Brighton a real food destination
Much like last year I left feeling enthusiastic about what is happening in Brighton, not to mention a little bit pissed. “We’re delighted that the new Top 20 reflects Brighton’s dynamic and fast moving restaurant scene,” said Andy Lynes, who, along with fellow Brighton-based food journalist Patrick McGuigan and 60 Second Reviews supremo Euan MacDonald co-founded and organised the awards. “It confirms Brighton as one of the best dining destinations outside London, and one that can stand side by side with cities like Bristol and Edinburgh. There’s something for everyone from innovative small plates to fabulous pizzas and of course great seafood.”
With the new top 20 in place I am looking forward to this year’s OctoberBEST festival, keep your eyes peeled for announcements in the coming months. Another fantastic year is in store for Brighton with Matt Gillan opening Pike and Pine soon, Steven Edwards opening Etch. next month and with the recent announcement of Tom Griffiths and Amanda Menahem’s new restaurant Pascere which is due to open later in the year. These three restaurants will certainly be pushing for honours next year, and who knows what other new ventures could be on their way.
Full list of winners
The Top 20, in order, are as follows:
1) 64 Degrees – www.64degrees.co.uk
2) Bincho Yakitori – www.binchoyakitori.com
3) The Chilli Pickle – www.thechillipickle.com
4) The Little Fish Market – www.thelittlefishmarket.co.uk
5) The Set – www.thesetrestaurant.com
6) Cin Cin – www.cincin.co.uk
7) Plateau – www.plateaubrighton.co.uk
8) The Salt Room – www.saltroom-restaurant.co.uk
9) Silo – www.silobrighton.com
10) Semolina – www.semolinabrighton.co.uk
11) The Gingerman – www.gingermanrestaurant.com
12) Terre a Terre – www.terreaterre.co.uk
13) Curry Leaf Cafe – www.curryleafcafe.com
14) Isaac@ – www.isaac-at.com
15) The Ginger Pig – www.thegingerpigpub.com
16) Fatto a Mano – www.fattoamanopizza.com
17) The Urchin – www.urchinpub.wordpress.com
18) The Coal Shed – www.coalshed-restaurant.co.uk
19) Riddle & Finns – www.riddleandfinns.co.uk
20) Fourth & Church – www.fourthandchurch.co.uk
Best Chef, sponsored by Nisbets
Michael Bremner, 64 Degrees
Best Barkeep, sponsored by Brighton Gin
Matt Ottley, The Salt Room
Best Welcome, sponsored by DesignLSM
David Toscano, Cin Cin
Best Roast, sponsored by Barfields Butchers
Dizzy Gull at the Brighton Beer Dispensary
Rising Star, sponsored by Enotria&Coe
Highest New Entry, sponsored by Bibendum
Best OctoberBEST Dish, sponsored by L&S Printing
Crispy Pork Knuckle Vindaloo, The Chilli Pickle