Change isn’t always a good thing. I remember being a young girl and inspired by some eminently peppy and sacharine-sweet pop star I decided to unceremoniously lop off all of my long blonde hair. I ended up looking like a cross between Friar Tuck and a serial killer and subsequently spent many a night praying for the return of my boring but lengthy locks. Often though change is an excellent thing and this is most certainly true of Smugglers frankly phenomenal metamorphosis into The Walrus.
Smugglers, on Ship Street, was around for a long time and its walls told many a story of drunken escapades and raucous games of pool. What always struck me though was what a great space it had, especially as it also housed The Loft club upstairs. Well it seems I wasn’t the only one to notice its potential. After nearly a year of solid renovations The Walrus burst onto the Brighton scene on the 8th of June. Walking around is an experience in intself. Downstairs has a luxurious feel with the abundance of Persian carpets, beautiful old photography and deep blue and green hues. A trip upstairs reveals a dining room to rival some of the best restaurants in Brighton. The clean and light space is filled with immaculately laid tables, chandeliers and sparkling glassware. A further bar is the prize at the end of the hallway, but the pièce de résistance has to be the stunning roof terrace where sunlight pours in and illuminates the white walls and hundreds of flowers.
The menu reads like a homage to all that is fresh and seasonal. It was genuinely hard to choose between the dishes, but we opted for starter of Smashed Avocado which was accompanied by beetroot houmous, toasted hazelnuts and coriander flat bread (£5.50) and the Quail Scotch Eggs with one being chorizo on a smoked tomato salsa and the other haggis on a celeriac remoulade (£5.25). The smashed avocado interlaced with red onion and was wonderfully seasoned and as a self-proclaimed hater of beetroot I was shocked to find that it was creamy, flavoursome and had not even a hint of the muddy taste that often causes me to speak so disparagingly about it. The freshly made flatbreads had a crunch that contrasted perfectly with the smooth textures of the avocado and beetroot. The whole dish was fresh-tasting and light. The scotch eggs were crunchy little spheres of gorgeousness. The chorizo had a fantastic spicy kick which was nicely neutralised by the juiciness of the tomatoes, and the haggis was incredibly moreish and perfectly matched with the celeriac. Again, another fresh tasting winner from The Walrus.
Mains were equally as difficult to choose, but after much toing and froing and with the help of our lovely server Tyler, we picked the Seared Sea Trout with shaved fennel, beetroot, squash puree and steamed mussels (£14.75) and the Posh Lamb Kebab which was a sumac and pomegranate marinated shoulder of lamb, buttermilk ailoli, summer slaw and naan bread (£13.75). The trout, which along with the vast majority of the mains menu, was gluten free and absolutely delicious. The fennel was used sparingly and perfectly enhanced the trout’s delicate flavour while the mussels added an additional dimension and went surprisingly well with the squash. As with the starters, the overwhelming sense was one of seasonality and freshness; I haven’t eaten a main as light as this for quite a while. For the meat lovers then the posh kebab was the perfect choice. The meat has clearly been marinaded to succulent perfection and the slaw provided balance. I was tempted to roll up the naan and eat it like a savage, but I resisted the temptation. Maybe next time though…
It’s odd how no matter how much food I’ve consumed I can always find some tiny little pocket of space to fit in dessert, especially when I spotted a Dark and White Chocolate Brownie with vanilla ice cream and popping candy (£5.75) on the menu. The brownie had achieved that unctuous soft state that only the best of brownies manage to achieve and the delicate vanilla ice cream was the perfect partner in calorific crime. After not only an exceptionally fine dining experience, but also wandering around the lovely and well thought-out space it is impossible to imagine The Walrus being anything less than the newest star in Brighton’s sky.