In a nutshell though, Mr P&P and I have been road testing a series of restaurants and pubs in the Brighton and Hove area to find out whose Sunday roast takes the crown for the best in Brighton.
Things worth noting:
- Early arrival is advised, ideally no later than 1pm or it’s likely to have been sitting about for ages, the pub will be rammed and the chef will be stressed out.
- Roasts come in at around the £10 mark, Lamb is often more.
- It is virtually impossible to get a brilliant roast potato outside of your own home.
- Consistency is a massive issue- this may be down to it being hard to keep hold of a good chef.
- You’ll be hard pushed to find somewhere that serves roasts after 5pm.
The Eagle- 7/10
To source inspiration for different places to trial for these posts I took to my Facebook and Twitter and this pub was one of the most suggested so I was eager to see if it lived up to the hype…
It was OK, I didn’t love it and I would have given it a 6/10 but Mr P&P said I was being to harsh, so for once, I gave in. There was a good selection of veg which ranged from well cooked (mash and broccoli) to bone dry (carrots). The potatoes sucked, so much so I took a photo close up to help illustrate their shitness – cremated on one side and flaccid and anaemic on the other, it doesn’t take a genius to make a decent roast potato really does it?! The pork, well, meh. They’d used those cheap belly pork strips that they sell in the budget range at all supermarkets, but they’d cooked it quite well and managed to make nice crunchy crackling. Mr P&P thoroughly approved of the portion sizes other than his lamb which he said was lovely but not enough of it. The pork was £9.95 and the lamb £10.50.
The Good Companions- 6.5/10
I really love this pub. It has a massive garden, excellent bar snacks, sells glass bottles of coke and also has particular sentimental value too as it was where Mr P&P and my Dad got absolutely SHITFACED the first time they met.
I fear I am going to become a bit broken-record like in these posts, but this was another case of really wanting to like their roast offering but coming away distinctly overwhelmed. Pork (£10) which didn’t ‘melt’ and crackling which was sticky as opposed to crunchy was their biggest offence. Mr P&P’s lamb (£11.95) was a good size but quite fatty. The roast potatoes were OK but there was only 2 of them. All of the veg was well cooked but just a bit of a weird selection I think?! Don’t get me wrong, I love courgettes and broad beans, they just didn’t ‘work’ in this context, plus the fact the latter hadn’t had their tough outer skins removed- lazy. The gravy was yummy (not a hint of Bisto) and the yorkie homemade. I ate it all, it was OK, just nothing to write home about.
The Pop up kitchen- 6/10
Oh dear oh dear, this place genuinely was the front runner to win the title of best roast in Brighton but spectacularly declined to the point where I would have actually advised against going there. I feel genuinely awful about this as the guys behind the Pop Up Kitchen really are lovely, although I suspect they may hate me after I wrote this review of one of their themed nights from last year. I really enjoyed that meal, I just might have said that the tagine wasn’t reeeeeally a tagine and talked about a screaming child in the bar…
The first time I went (top picture) I was genuinely bowled over by the standard of roast I was served. I gave it 10/10 and raved about it to anyone who would listen. Perfect crackling, melting meat, THE BEST roast potatoes, creamed leeks, homemade yorkie, gorgeous gravy and an excellent selection of veg which was cooked perfectly- I was over the moon.
Fast forward a few months when we made our next repeat visit to something altogether mediocre. Smaller portions (Mr P&P’s lamb shank was pretty sizeable though), what looked suspiciously like shop bought yorkies, two types of cabbage (no need) horrid potatoes and the most laughable “devils on horseback” I’ve ever seen. The bar man was an absolute gimp, I’m sorry, but he was. I took back the sausages and said expressed my disappointment, he took them away and said he’d take them off my bill. He bounded over 5 minutes later to inform me that, while they might not have looked great, he had eaten all three and they tasted lovely… errrr right.
The final opportunity to redeem themselves was even worse than the previous. If I’d have had my way I would have given them an overall mark of 5/10 but Mr P&P insisted I was being too harsh. I feel like I’ve criticised it quite enough already, the final picture sums it up pretty well.
I believe the London Unity has shut down and now re-opened. I have no idea whether or not The Pop Up Kitchen are still operating from there, they used to be extremely active on Twitter but that appears to have died a death too… such a shame.
The Royal Sovereign- 7/10
This pub is one of a few places which has a board outside boasting that they make “the best roast in Brighton”… hmmmm.
I’ll start with the positives- A nice variety of well-cooked veg, root veg mash, lovely gravy, meat which fell apart at the mere touch of a knife and fork and proper crackling.
The negatives- they had stripped the meat of its crackling so they could sell it off in extra portions- GREEDY. Those utterly pointless deep fried veg peelings, minuscule yorkshire puddings and inconsistent roast potatoes. The pork was £10 and the lamb shank was £10.50.
Despite not loving it, I would quite like to give it another go as so many people I know rave about their roasts and say I must have visited on an off day.
The Pub with no name – 0/10
This monstrosity featured in a previous blog post: Where NOT to eat in Brighton. I would summarise what was written in there below but I don’t care to expend that much energy on something so utterly undeserving and RANK so am going to cut and paste from the original review, do check out the full post for other places to avoid though.
To be honest, I’m not surprised that no-one wanted to put their name to this pub, because it SUCKS. I’m still doing the Brighton roast challenge (results coming soon, promise) and we were actually planning to go to The Geese, also in Hanover, but sadly it was full and as we had a pressing football deadline looming (god damn you Sky Sports) we stumbled into the nearest pub.
The first thing that set alarm bells ringing was the ridiculously large menu (pictured above) I’m all for a bit of variety, but this was an absolute joke. A few things about it concern me but the freshness of the meat was at the forefront of my mind. Surely it couldn’t all be fresh? In which case did they have some gargantuan freezer in which various body parts of numerous exotic animals were languishing? Were they taking the upmost care to defrost it thoroughly? Were they sourcing their zebras, camels and wilderbeests etc ethically cos they sure as hell weren’t from a field down the road?!
The pub was by no means full and we got served immediately at the bar where we also placed our food order. I went for belly of pork and Mr P&P the lamb.
We took our seats in the back section of the pub, which by the way STANK of disinfectant (one of my many pet peeves) and started to wait for our food… and waited… and waited
After 40 mins I looked over to the bar and the guy serving caught my eye, I heard him say to the barmaid that he didn’t know what was taking so long and she said that 19 (our table number) should be up next, but no-one came over to communicate this to us. There was a grubby looking man with an apron on milling about who also made no attempt to speak to us so in the end Mr P&P went to the bar to ask what the delay was. 5 minutes later yet another member of staff came over and said that the food would be out in 10 minutes max and made some weak excuse about the tickets being in order and ours being at the bottom of the pile- this might have been acceptable if the place was busy and we were having meals that were being cooked to order!
20 minutes later the grubby looking man in the apron appeared with the above…
The plates were boiling hot to the touch, so hot that they had either been nuked within an inch of their lives or had been sitting in the oven for the entire hour and a bit that we’d been waiting. Everything had been slopped onto the plate with very little care, in fact the only care that seemed to have been taken was the stringent portion control of all of the woefully overcooked veg.
Just LOOK at those peas, bone dry and the smallest serving imaginable, the half teaspoon of creamed leeks (top left) was welded onto the skanky plate, the TWO brussel sprouts looked like they’d been served up at Christmas 2011 and the photo doesn’t even begin to do justice to the roast potatoes which were cremated on one side and practically raw on the others.
The grubby man returned with condiments and cutlery but by this point Mr P&P and I had decided that eating it was out of the question. He asked us if everything was OK, at which point I said that no, everything was NOT OK and that I couldn’t believe we had waited an hour and 15 mins for something like that. He shuffled off to get the barmaid who came over and asked us what was the matter. I gave her an unabridged version of everything that was wrong with it and said we wanted our money back for the food and drinks and that we were leaving. Apron man shuffled off with our rejected meals mumbling his apology, the barmaid offered no such courtesy and refused to refund our drinks as the bar was a separate entity to the kitchen, hmmmm.
* From what I gather this pub has now changed hands and re-branded- probably a very good thing too.
The Mesmerist- 8.5/10
Mr P&P and I visited The Mesmerist two days before Christmas after one of my friends posted a photo on Instagram of an unbelievably good looking roast. The pub was only half full so we didn’t expect to wait well over an hour for our meals, but after we pointed out how long the delay had been we were given a full refund- WIN.
A generous sized portion of meltingly delicious pork, crunchy (in a good way) roasties, homemade yorkshire, cauliflower cheese as standard, roasted and (perfectly consistency) steamed veg and lovely gravy.
I loved mine, in fact, I would have given it a 9 or maybe even a 9.5/10 but Mr P&P was furious about the wait time (he was very hungover) and unhappy with the portion size of his lamb (it was pretty small) so I compromised with an 8.5. If you’re looking for somewhere very central where you’re pretty much guaranteed a table then The Mesmerist is just the place. Both meals were around a tenner each.
The Hampton – 7.5/10
The first roast I had at The Hampton was a serious contender for the overall winner. Generous portions at only £10.50 for the pork and £10.95 for the lamb. I don’t actually have anything bad to say about the roasts we had that day but it is worth mentioning that we arrived at 12pm and were the first people there.
Both roasts came with a homemade Yorkshire pudding, 4 good sized roast potatoes which were some of the best we’ve tried throughout the challenge, cauliflower cheese as standard (BIG tick), roasted root veg, buttered cabbage and peas and gained an extra point for the fact that the pork was free range.
A couple of weeks later I arranged to go for lunch with a few friends who were aware of the fact I’d been road-testing Brighton roasts, so asked me to choose where we went- as the pressure was on I decided to choose the best to date. We booked a table for 3pm and when we got there it was rammo. We waited quite a while to have our order taken and nearly 45 minutes to be served our food. It was OK, but in comparison to the previous time, I was underwhelmed- you can see from the photo that the standard had slipped. Less veg, bone dry crackling and nowhere near as well presented. Like I said, they were busy and it was late in the day but it was a stark difference. On the first visit I would have given it 9.5 out of 10 but the second a 6.5 would have been pushing it. I haven’t been back since but I know a few people who have and I haven’t heard great things.
The Fox on the downs – 7/10
This was the cheapest roast out of the entire challenge and also the only carvery we visited. It’s right up the top of Elm Grove, and not really the most glamorous of venues, however we decided it would be next on our hit list as a friend of mine worked there and had posted a photo of a rather yummy looking roast for the bargain price of £6.95
We were both at death’s door with hangovers on the day we visited, it was about 3pm and there was still a fair amount of food left. I had both meats on offer, turkey and gammon which were dished out to me but you have free reign with the rest. The roast potatoes were really good, shop bought Yorkshires, good gravy and cheesy broccoli & cauliflower. There was only two types of boiled veg which were a bit overdone but given the price and how late in the day it was, I was pleasantly surprised.