If you were to ask any Brightonian to recommend a good Indian restaurant, I am pretty sure Chilli Pickle will always get a mention. In fact, I am yet to meet anyone that doesn’t love the place – which begs the question, why have I never been? Although I have ordered the take away Thali trays on numerous occasions – because I tend to cook a lot of Indian food at home (at least once a week), we don’t seem to prioritise it when we eat out.
Being our Food and Drink issue and with October Best just around the corner (5 – 21 Oct) I thought what better time to go check out the hype – so with my critic hat firmly on and expectations high, we booked an early evening table on Tuesday evening.
The restaurant is extremely spacious yet first thing to hit you, quite rightly is the exotic and intoxicating aromas of spice and the warmth of the place – the decor takes inspiration from its heritage with bright colours and splashes of silver whilst the ambience takes a more elegant and refined feeling with atmospheric low lighting and great attention to detail.
We kick off with ordering a large Kingfisher beer to share, along with some Poppadom to snack on whilst we check out the menu. The Poppadoms come both Dry roasted and Fried with a selection of the signature chutneys and pickles – the only way to start off an Indian in my opinion.
Although the menu does offer variations on dishes we are all familiar with, Madras, Biriyani and Korma, I am delighted to see there are a few dishes which are much more unusual and not something I would make at home.
I must admit I was immensely disappointed that one of the dishes I was most excited about – the Darjeeling Chicken Momo’s were not on the menu during our visit, however I bravely decided to plod on with my second choice of Sigri Hawkers Corn whilst my dining companion Natalie chose Kerala Fish Fry.
One bite into my starter, I am almost grateful my first choice wasn’t available – I remember thinking, this may be the best corn on the cob I’ve ever got my teeth into! The Charcoal roasted cobs came smothered in Tellicherry pepper with tiny pinch bowls of toasted garlic crumble and curry lemon butter sauce for you to add as you wish – every bite is absolutely heavenly. Natalie lets me try one of her nuggets of thickly spice coated Seabream fillet which are beautifully crisp and beautifully succulent – equally delicious as mine, served with a sweet dipping sauce of fresh pineapple relish and a creamy citrus curry leaf dipping sauce.
For my main I opt for the Sri Lankan Seabass which I pair with German Wheat Beer – Schenider Weisse which they offer on the menu as the recommend beer to accompany the dish. Natalie goes for the Sigri Chilli Pickle Mixed Gril – Masala Lamb chop, red chicken tikka, Awadhi chicken tikka and a pepper chicken seekh kebab.
My curry arrives on a thali tray with the curry, rice and pickles presented in little bowls. The Seabass fillets are perfectly cooked served off the bone in a thick coconut gravy with flavours of pandan, ginger, lemon grass, chilli and curry leaf – absolutely packed with aromatic flavours, with a bowl of lightly seasoned lemon rice and garlic pickle to add an extra punch of flavour.
Natalie’s Mixed Grill arrives on a second thali tray, with small bowls of onion salad, spicy gravy, smoked aubergine riatta and mango chutney. The grilled meats are presented on a bed of coriander cumin butter naan. She generously allows me a taste of everything which although not as packed with flavour as the rest of the dishes is still unequivocally yummy.
We round off the meal with the Chilli glazed pineapple – a juicy chuck of coal roasted fresh pineapple served with chilli and stem ginger glaze and topped with coconut Sorbet, accompanied by a Kerala Coffee – a short strong but sweet milky coffee with a hint of cardamom, which is poured at the table from a height – Kerala style.
I am happy to report that I totally get the hype – definitely a thumbs up from me and worth checking out for the October Best set menu for just £20 a head!
Chilli Pickle is at 17 Jubilee Street, Brighton, BN1 1GE. Tel: 01273 900383