This post is LONG overdue so apologies!
In a nutshell: I’ve 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 (if it’s any good) and the chef will be stressed out.
- If they are using nice quality/local/free range meat, they will shout about it.
- 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 and/or hungover the chef is.
- You’ll be hard pushed to find somewhere that serves roasts after 6pm.
The Setting sun- 7.5/10
Despite being located on the less… desirable side of Hanover, I’d heard good things about this pub and well up for putting it through the Brighton Roast Challenge test, so jumped at the chance when some friends of mine suggested lunch there one Sunday.
We arrived at 3pm and ordered at the bar straight away as we were all hungover and ravenous, as usual I had the pork. It arrived after about 20 minutes and for £9.95 I think it’s a really good sized portion.
If I’m honest, the meat was the only slightly disappointing thing about it. Only a sliver of crackling and a tiny bit dry, however there was plenty of it and it was very tasty. Creamed leeks- my fave, three small roast potatoes but some of the best I’d had in any of the pubs I tried and a delicious homemade yorkshire were all big ticks. The parsnips were crispy and delicious (suspect they may have been re-enlivened in a fryer, but whatevs) slightly crunchy carrots and a small amount of perfectly cooked cabbage. All of this was covered in the perfect amount of homemade gravy.
The second best roast to be found in Hanover- in my opinion.
The St Georges Inn- 6/10
Looking back at this photo, I really really wish the roast was better- it’s within spitting distance (not that I would cos it’s vulgar) of my new flat and would be ideal, I might give it another try, just to be sure.
The bad: We got there at about 2 and were told there was only beef left and that it was likely to be be ‘on the rare side’- as I love bloody meat this was fine by me, but as you can see from the above- this was extreme, in fact, it was pretty much raw. 5 roast potatoes, if you ate around the edge they were lovely but the insides were hard. The gravy had a definite hint of Bisto to it.
The good: 2 Yorkshires which seemed to be homemade, a large portion of cheesy broccoli- granted it was just some broccoli plonked in a dish with some sauce poured over the top rather than a traditional bake, but it was still a welcome addition. The carrot and swede mash was buttery and delicious as was the red cabbage.
This was a good few months ago now so I will definitely give it another go and report back.
The Druids Head- 7/10
Slap bang between The Level and London Road this pub is hardly in the most salubrious of settings. I’ve never liked it, for various reasons, but my ex’s mate had taken over the kitchen that week so he was keen to go down and see him.
We ordered pork and beef- both around a tenner, despite the fact it was midday and there was only a couple of other tables in there, we waited about 25 minutes for our food. It arrived in 3 parts, main plate, side of cauliflower cheese and about 10 minutes later, the crackling.
The pork seemed to be just one of those thin slices of belly pork you get pre-packaged in supermarkets. It didn’t taste bad and was fairly tender, but the quality just wasn’t there. The crackling was rock hard and cold and the carrots were dry and barely warm. The rest of it was actually lovely though, the roasties were crunchy on the outside and fluffy (ish) within, a gigantic homemade yorkshire that didn’t have a hint of ‘prawn cracker’ consistency about it, a blob of buttery, smooth mash and this was the only place we tried that served kale with a roast which was a nice change. There was an individual ramekin of cauliflower cheese too which was delicious. It cost just under a tenner.
The Temple Bar- 4/10
The second pub to host the ‘Pop up kitchen” (I reviewed the other in part #2 of this challenge) and I really, REALLY wanted it to be good…
We were seated next to a table of screaming children and their parents- I could rant about their behaviour and lack of parenting skills respectively, but I’ll spare us all, let’s just say that they were a prime case of where children should be neither seen nor heard.
We waited nearly an hour for our food, I was thoroughly unimpressed, and sadly, even more so when the food arrived. Rigid pork belly, chewy ‘crackling’, virtually raw roast potatoes and shop-bought Yorkshires were the low points. The thimbleful of delicious gravy, roasted apple slices and perfectly cooked cabbage were the saving graces. So, so disappointing.
Another place claiming to be the ‘best roast in Brighton’- complete with a board outside announcing their brilliance. For this reason I had dismissed it out of hand, however I kept seeing numerous reports on various social media streams that it was ‘the one’ so decided to investigate myself.
As you can see from the pictures it was an absolute disaster. The pork was tough and dry with the ‘crackling’ being weirdly sticky and impossible to chew. Woefully undercooked roast potatoes that were solid inside, same with the parsnips and a large amount of heavily vinegared red cabbage which completely dominated the taste of everything surrounding it. But the chicken, oh the chicken- they didn’t ask us how we’d like it cooked but had they have done we would’ve asked for it to be cooked properly, not rare. When I complained to the waitress she didn’t really seem to understand the problem so we spoke to the duty manager on the way out, who again, wasn’t overly bothered either.
When we got home I tweeted Koba about it, complete with the above picture. I waited for a response, and waited, and waited… I tweeted again, and again- nothing. Four days later the owner Jake emailed me. To give him his dues, he was absolutely gutted, he offered me a free meal for two as he was confident in the quality of the food they serve and wanted me to experience this.
Fast forward two months later and we returned to claim our free meal: the second photo is their attempt at proving the quality of their roasts…
We swerved the chicken option as the dodging one salmonella bullet was enough for us in one year so opted for beef and the pork again. Exactly the same issue with the pork as on our previous visit, I asked the waitress for a piece with crackling, she came back 5 mins later and explained that the chef had said ‘you can’t get crackling on belly pork’ but that he had put it under the grill to crisp up the skin. I cannot even… The beef was wafer thin, really overcooked and dry, so dry. Rubbish roast potatoes, one even had a black rotten bit in it that they hadn’t bothered to cut out, nor had they bothered to peel the onions before roasting. All in all, sloppy and utterly substandard- especially when if we’d been paying it would have been over £25 for both. AVOID.
The Connaught- 7/10
For the price (nearly £14) I expected a lot and in terms of taste I wasn’t disappointed, it was superb.
However, to say that the portion size was meagre, especially for the most expensive roast in the entire challenge, would be an understatement. The top picture is of my pork- it was a slice of a rolled belly joint- delicious but not enough of it. Homemade yorkshire, excellent duck fat potatoes (3 small) and rich meaty gravy were all high points. The roasted veg on which the meat sat were nice, but again, child size portions. Exactly the same case with the lamb. Both meals were randomly garnished with watercress, I’ve no idea how they thought that might enhance the meal, but I can assure you it didn’t. I ate it though as I was still so bloody hungry. For £8 I would have been impressed, for nearly double that- not so much. I’d recommend if you’re on a diet and have no issue with paying nearly £15 for a roast.
The Open House- 7.5/10
We went in at 4pm so the choice was limited to beef as they’d nearly sold out. This set alarm bells ringing with me immediately, but actually, I was pleasantly surprised.
The meat was tender and slightly pink (only 2 small slices), homemade yorkshire pudding and swede and carrot mash were the best bits. The potatoes were a real let down, they may well have been lovely when they were originally cooked but they’d almost definitely been microwaved. The veg were nice, could’ve done with a few more but I enjoyed what there was. Not enough gravy at all but they immediately brought us some extra when we asked. For 9 quid I thought it was great.
The Coal Shed 10/10
Drum roll please… this is it, the winner, the creme de la creme, the dogs bollocks (etc etc) of roasts in Brighton. OK OK it’s from a very nice restaurant and costs slightly more than most offerings from a local pub, but seriously, it rules.
I’d seen numerous photos on Instagram and Facebook of their sharing roasts and was already a fan of this place after eating there the Valentines Day before (review here) so was really excited to try it out.
For £12.50* a head you can choose from either 500g of sirloin or a whole roast free range chicken with all the trimmings. All of it was perfect, totally flawless. Potatoes as good as yo’ mama makes, enormous yorkies, (look a bit burnt but really aren’t) creamed leeks, buttered chantennay carrots and green beans. The gravy was thick, meaty and expensive tasting (if that makes sense) and you got a whole jug of it to share. We ordered the cauliflower cheese as a side and it was the best I had throughout the challenge.
*After looking at their website today, the price has gone up to £30 for 2.
I appreciate that this might be slightly out of some peoples’ price range, but you get a lot for your money and it really is the nicest roast I’ve ever eaten out. I can’t wait to go back and try the beef soon!
The Geese 9/10
This was actually my second roast of the day (don’t judge me) and definitely one of the best pub roasts I had throughout the challenge.
Lamb shank which fell away from the bone and had been slow cooked to perfection. 4 types of veg which were all delicious as well as carrot and swede mash and 4 roast potatoes, which although not the best I’d had were still very nice indeed. Homemade yorkie, plenty of lovely rich gravy and an added bonus of a stuffing ball and sausage.
I don’t actually think my photo does this roast justice, I used a flash which always makes food look a bit naff, but for under a tenner and at 7 in the evening this was an absolute gem. I would highly recommend- word of warning though, seating is limited.
The Barley Mow 7.5 /10
I went there at 4pm on my own, absolutely hanging and hid in a booth at the back. To be honest I didn’t have high hopes at all, I walk past this pub all the time and it just looks like a ropey old boozer full of ropey old boozers!
My food arrived within ten minutes and other than the meat which was terrible, diabolical in fact, everything else was exemplary. Some of the, if not the best roast potatoes of any of the pub roasts I’ve had, a good selection of well cooked veg, homemade yorkshires, cauliflower cheese and two types of mash. SO annoying about the pork. I get the feeling it would be the case with all the meat on offer- beef, lamb or 1/2 chicken (not free range)- but given how good everything else was I think I might give it another bash.
64 Degrees: As you can see from the picture above- it looks very impressive. Had I not have been absolutely shitfaced when eating it, I would do a full review and include it in the challenge, but honestly (shamefully) I can’t remember much of it. I did find a text I sent to a foodie friend that day saying it was almost as good as The Coal Shed, but who knows. If was anything like the next meal I had there (sober) then I’m sure it was pretty incredible.
The Thomas Kemp- I slated it in my last review and almost 2 years on, it still sucks. Badly cooked, fatty, unseasoned meat. What looked and tasted like Aunty Bessy potatoes and definitely yorkshires. Undercooked uninspiring veg and gravy which tasted overwhelmingly of stock cubes. Don’t bother, seriously do not. The only thing that place is good for is the garden on a summer afternoon.
The lion & lobster: After reading my previous review lots of my friends and followers on Twitter insisted I give it another go, so I did. It was lovely, much improved from my last visit in terms of portion size and quality. The having to pay for all the sides incl yorkshire puddings still irritates me though!
Where do you like to eat a roast in Brighton? Have I missed anywhere? Have you tried any of the places above more recently and completely disagree with my ramblings? Post your suggestions/arguments/comments in the box below- I’d love to hear them.