Flavour pirates of the Caribbean

I should really start by saying this was by no means my first visit to Bus Stop. In fact, it is easily one of my favourite restaurants in Brighton, if not the world.

I love the energy and the vibe of the place, and upon visiting immediately feel like life’s woes get left at the door as I settle in with the most delicious Rum Punch in Brighton (you heard it here first). The lighting and ambience is always on point, with reggae tunes and the buzz of happy customers – I instantly feel transported to that carefree feeling of being on holiday.

If there’s one thing I would advise to anyone that is checking out Bus Stop for the first time, it is to go hungry. The menu isn’t huge, but the portions are, and everything looks so good it’s hard to stop yourself from overindulging.

That being said, I fail to take a leaf out of my own book, and my dining partner and I decide to treat ourselves to starters and mains because, well, why not.

I am recommended the Bajan Fishcakes (£6) to start, which I must admit wouldn’t normally be my first choice, but – having been surprised by a lot of things I’ve eaten here in the past – I’m up for trusting the experts. Natalie opts for the Fish Goujons (£6.50) and we agree to share so all bases are covered.

Most of the main dishes on the menu comprise of a main element to which you add your choice of sides – which for me tend to be as much a star of the show as the main component. I decide to go for Danny’s Stuffed ‘Proper’ Pork Chop (£17.50) which comes served with creamy gravy, plantain, coleslaw and a side of my choice (with not a moment’s hesitation I opt for the Macaroni Pie). Natalie is recommended the Blackened Sea Bream (£17) to which she adds a side of Granny’s Rice & Peas and another portion of plantain.

We order a couple of ice cold Banks Beers to accompany our starters (which arrive piping hot, crispy and gorgeously golden brown – a perfect contrast). The Fish Goujons are coated in a Bajan batter mix and served with a tangy homemade tartar sauce and are absolutely delicious. The Bajan Fish Cakes are equally as good; they are served as plum sized round balls with a dumpling like consistency and a Marie Rose dipping sauce. As our waiter clears our empty plates, we give each other a knowing look that says, “we have definitely ordered too much food”. But we soldier on.

Luckily, there are a few minutes’ wait between courses which gives us a little break, at which point we mull over which of our friends we have not yet recommended Bus Stop to.

As our mains are served I am delighted with my choice and feel more than ready to dive into the spice-coated pork chop. Although this was my first time to have ever ordered a pork chop off a menu, having sampled a mouthful of my friend’s meal on a previous visit, I was sure I wouldn’t regret trying something a little off-piste. My instincts were right. The meat is succulent, tender, and bursting with flavour and paired perfectly with the creamy gravy. The macaroni pie is rich and decadent but well balanced with flavours of vegetables running through the cheese sauce. I have to admit the plantain was probably a level of deep-fried-too-far for such a big dish, but still thoroughly enjoyed with Bus Stop’s infamous homemade hot pepper sauce.

Natalie was equally as happy with her sea bream, which true to the description on the menu came out blackened with spices with not one, but two fillets of the succulent once-white fish. The plantain dipped in hot sauce was replicated on her side of the table and the classic Caribbean side of rice and peas went down as an ideal accompaniment.

There wasn’t a chance of us squeezing in any of the Bus Stop desserts, but judging by the cocktails and food, if you were to have room they would be as good as the rest. Bus Stop is my number one choice for a holiday at home evening out, and I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy it – so save the money on flights and visit a little slice of Barbados in Brighton.

Bus Stop is at 99 North Road, Brighton. Tel: 01273 623143

http://www.busstop.biz/

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