We’ve got pretty much everything in Brighton when it comes to places to eat, drink and sleep. With a huge variety of venues, it is easy to see why the city is one of the top leisure and tourism in the country. This appeal has not gone unmissed as the city attracts more and more business into its midst further boosting its appeal.
A recent addition that is aiming high in its ambitions is the Harbour Hotel. Situated on Brighton’s iconic seafront, with panoramic coastal views, the location could not be more perfect. Aiming to be the top hotel in the city it incorporates a luxury spa and will feature Brighton’s very first rooftop infinity pool in 2017. The hotel also boasts a stylish cocktail and lounge bar, the HarBar, and an award winning restaurant called The Jetty. Given that this is a food column, these last two are where my attention will be focussed.
I have paid the HarBar numerous visits in recent months and I must say that their cocktail menu is one of the best in the city. This claim is backed up by their recent win at the 2016 Brighton Bartender awards for “Best New Bar”. With some of the city’s top mixologists on hand to create whatever your heart desires it is a definite destination bar.
I’ve worked my way through a selection of the menu from classic martini’s and gin fizz, through to their smoked salt negroni and “Apples & Bees”; which is a great calvados based cocktail. The bar is a place to while away a few hours taking in the views and the atmosphere. There is a relaxed and upmarket feel to the space, and the bar staff are extremely friendly and attentive.
The Jetty restaurant is situated within the same space as the bar making for a simple transition from drinks to dinner. Given the name of both the hotel and restaurant you will not be surprised that they specialise in the bountry of sea and river. For those who are not keen on our fishy friends you will also find vegetarian and land based proteins on offer.
There are a number of dining options to choose from based on the time of day of your visit or whether you want to go a la carte or with a set menu. This can be a little daunting but the waiting staff are more than happy to go through the options with you. Some of the set menu and lunch/early evening offers represent excellent value so it is well worth looking into these.
We kick off proceedings by sharing a cold fruits de mer and some cockle popcorn with malt vinegar dressing. If you’ve never had cockle popcorn you need to put that right immediately. The Jetty’s offering is as fine as you will find and the malt vinegar dressing adds a classic chippie feel; although they get a little soggy towards the bottom so eat them quick.
The fruits de mer looks the part with all the usual suspects in attendance. The main thing that strikes me with this is the quality of the ingredients used. Large juicy mussels of the like I’ve not had in a while sit alongside a firm pan fried shrimp and beautifully fresh oyster. Potted crab and shrimp are both rich and luscious, with silky smooth smoked salmon and a perfectly cooked scallop to boot. The only weak point is some slightly tough squid in what is a lovely selection of seafood.
For my main I opt for the stone bass with creamed leeks and bacon which comes with a mini shellfish pie on the side. I add a side order of sautéed courgette with tomato and chilli for some extra greens. My dining companions Nick and Andrew decide on whole plaice and the skate wing with caper sauce from the “Catch of the day” menu. We go for a bottle of the 2013 Trimbach Riesling to go with the mains which I have to say is one of the best white wines I’ve had in some time.
My stone bass is a solid and enjoyable plate of food with the highlight being the shellfish pie that adds a luxurious feel to the dish. My only criticism is that it feels a little bit safe, I think they could be a little bolder with the flavours. The other mains look fantastic and Andrew waxes lyrical about his skate, which I admit I had some food envy at the sight of.
I cannot resist a dessert after perusing the rather wonderful options. I settle on the most over the top sounding; the Espresso Martini sabayon. I feel immediately like a child when this ostentatious dessert is placed before me. Grinning, I barely speak a word until it is gone. Most people would probably be defeated by this, and indeed Nick was, but I could’ve done another.
The Harbour hotel has certainly got a number of things right in its quest for Brighton glory. The bar is a great place to meet with friends and enjoy a few quality drinks and The Jetty has a great menu and utilises quality ingredients. The prices are at the higher end of the scale, but there are some fantastic deals available and the food is on par with other restaurants within the same bracket. The Jetty is well worth a visit and is a top addition to the city.
Brighton Harbour Hotel, 64 King’s Rd, Brighton BN1 1NA
I was invited to review the restaurant as their guest, this did not affect my opinion of the meal in any way.