It’s not often I (if at all) that I eat at the same place twice in a week, but two visits to Indian bistro, The Chilli Pickle were the very first things pencilled in to the itinerary of my birthday (week) celebrations.
I’ve been a fan since they were little-known and had their smaller venue in Meeting House Lane. Now in a premises quadruple the size, and with an impressive collection of local and national awards to boot, they’re a key player in the Brighton restaurant scene and much loved by every foodie I know.
I’ve not actually reviewed The Chilli Pickle since 2014 so this one covers pretty much all of their current menu types. If it comes across as a bit advertorial-ly, then I apologise, because it’s really not. I paid for all of the food pictured (bar the lunch boxes*) I just happened to eat there six times in the last three months and have finally got my act together, to round it all up in one post.
These lunchboxes are available to pick up or via Deliveroo for £11. I think that the price, the quality, and variety of dishes included, represents enormously good value. You can pick the curry of your choice from the menu and it’ll come with rice, a couple of snacks, and dips which are also made in-house.
The restaurant itself is informal yet still has an upmarket feel to it. It’s been pretty much (or completely) full on all my recent visits and the atmosphere is bustling yet relaxed during lunch and dinner services – children are welcome, but the one running round screamng whilst I was trying to enjoy my pork knuckle last Sunday, certainly was not – little shit.
When I saw they were now offering a brunch menu on Sundays, I was hoping for some kind of Dishoom style items, and although I was disappointed not to see a bacon and egg naan, I’m not the kind of girl to turn her nose up at a meat feast at any time of day, and this one, at a reasonably priced (I thought) £17.50, was spot on. It’s not the first time I’ve had a tandoori platter at the Chilli Pickle and they regularly switch up the selection of meats, I love the variation of textures and tastes and the spiced makhani gravy that came with it was an absolute winner, so much so that we asked for a refill!
Apologies for taunting you with pictures of dishes which are no longer available, but those crunchy poppadom coated, cheese-stuffed pea fritters more than deserved a shout out too. I’m all for a menu dominated by seasonal produce, but the fact I can’t eat these again makes me sad.
Perfect for the indecisive (and the greedy) the thalis offer a decent sized portion of your curry of choice with rice, dal, various chutneys and pickles, savoury and sweet snacks and a blistered and buttery naan. In a restaurant which puts as much care into its side dishes as its mains this is a great way to try out a selection of their lunch menu, at a set price.
You can get a King Thali (pictured) for a tenner, every Monday 12-3, and I suggest you do.
Vindaloo Pork knuckle platter
As soon as this offer appeared in my Twitter timeline I knew that it had to be mine, and it was indeed everything the promotional picture had promised, and possibly more. I know when a lot of people think of vindaloo they imagine a ‘blow your head off’ kind of heat, but for my tastes it was pleasantly warm and would be easily manageable for those who like things a bit spicy.
If I had to hazard a guess I’d say the pork knuckle had been braised, dried and then plunged into a deep fat frier, but who knows. Who cares, really, it’s practically perfect AND due to its vast popularity, the offer’s been extended into November as well – so catch it while you can.
Look at how happy I was!
I know I am a bit of a ‘special case’ (in more ways than one) but I know from other customers (without a blog or social media following) that the front of house staff routinely go over and above to accomodate birthdays, dietary requirements, etc etc.
The Chilli Pickle banquet/Autumn menu
I’m afraid to say that the banquet menu option is no longer available, they just very kindly did it as a one-off for my Birthday treat, but all of the dishes pictured are from their current menu.
It’s rare that a vegetarian element is the hightlight of a meal, for me, but the buffalo milk paneer was sensational. Battered, fried and rolled in a sticky sweet and sour sauce it had a lovely kick to it too. Chickpea and potato pakoras which can often be underwhelming in other restaurants, were topped with kaladeiscope chutneys and were another favourite dish. Had I not have been having the set menu I’d definitely have ordered the sardine fry, I love them and these were fine specimens, as were the pani puri with spiced tamarind water. Overall the ultimate selection from a starter menu, which barely contained anything that didn’t tempt me.
There was nothing that I didn’t like about the main course platter. The punchy herb smothered salmon (top left) was still blushing inside and was a surprise standout for both of us. The Keralan chicken curry was the same one I’d had, and loved, on the thali so was thrilled to see it making a reappearance. The spiced aubergine ratatouille had a meditarraenean feel to it, my friend wasn’t a fan, which suited me fine as I got to eat all of it. The sauces and salad brought the whole thing together beautifully, and I’m not even slightly ashamed to admit that we all but licked the banana leaves on which it was served.
In terms of vegetarian offerings I think they knock it out of the park, and I’ve recommended them time and time again to my non meat-eating friends/blog readers, and after eating *that* paneer dish, will continue to do so with even more fervour! I rarely, if ever, eat desserts in Indian restaurants, preferring to fill up on poppadoms and extra sides, but this sweet platter was the piece de resistance. Marzipan-like raspberry kulfi, a stuffed date that bore more than a passing resemblance to a certain part of the female anatomy and those little balls are cake soaked in a sweet and lightly spiced syrup, which fell on just the right side of sickly sweet. It was the perfect finale to a grossly indulgent Birthday feast.
Usually I’d do a summing up paragraph about how great it was and whether or not I’ll be going back/would recommend, but I don’t think I really need to in this case, do I? If you haven’t been already, then do so at your nearest convenience. If you’re already a fan, then get yo’ ass down there for a pork knuckle, tout suite.
Have you been to The Chilli Pickle? Where’s your favourite place to eat Indian food in Brighton? Please do let me know in the comments section or hit me up on social media (links below).
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