Busy Brighton is bustling with life on a warm Friday evening. May is a vibrant month on the cultural calendar with both Brighton Festival and Fringe dominating the city. With The Warren’s new position near to Spiegeltent, the streets are filled with people eager to kickstart their Bank Holiday weekend. As we turn the corner from Old Steine onto St. James’ Street, I see a glimpse of The Blue Man standing proudly in its newest location.
I say ‘new’ loosely here. Manchester Street has been home to The Blue Man since September 2018, its fourth site in two decades of activity. Still serving up authentic North African street food, their new space is comforting and homely. Downstairs is kitted out with cosy seated areas perfect for cocktail nights and indulging in the kitchen’s vast array of Algerian bar snacks. We were taken upstairs to the dining area, lit with warm and welcoming light from the Moroccan lamps dotted around the room.
An aperitif is always a fitting introduction to any meal, and so we selected a glass of Pomegranate Prosecco and a Gin Martini. Their martini is not for the faint-hearted, with a sharp but warming kick, paired with a pleasing saltiness from the olives. The prosecco is dainty and presented beautifully with a dash of pomegranate juice and seeds.
I was immediately curious to try the Sferia, their vegetarian Algerian Cheesy Dumplings, accompanied with harissa mayonnaise. Resembling the appearance of falafel, the little balls were very soft, light and pulled apart impeccably. A cocktail and a nibble were priced at just £12 – highly recommended to offer a delicate start to the meal. The Blue Man’s menu details an extensive list of nibbles, also working perfectly as sides to the main dish. The rest of our meal was accompanied by the restaurant’s two most popular beers: Morocco’s Casablanca, which was rich and full in flavour (£4.20), and a slightly lighter Tusker from Kenya (£5.50).
After heavy contemplation trying to decide if we wanted to try the Kemia plates (Algerian tapas) or one of the main dishes, it was the specials that won us over. My dining partner chose the extremely tender Lamb Shank (approx. £14), which is certainly for those with a healthy appetite. The dish was accompanied with flatbreads and couscous, perfect for soaking up the thick and succulent sauce, which was topped with flaked almonds and pomegranate seeds.
I selected the vegetarian special, Roasted Butternut Squash, topped with mixed vegetables, a thick slice of grilled goats cheese and a red pepper sauce (approx. £12). The butternut squash was cooked perfectly, and I ensured each forkful had the perfect amount of each component for every bite. I thought the thin slice of fennel added an extra lift to the dish. Not a single bit of food was left on my plate.
Managing to reserve some room for dessert, I was excited to see The Blue Man had teamed up with Boho Gelato to curate some special flavours for their Sweet menu. We tried a scoop of Lemon Sorbet, which is a refreshing conclusion to the meal (£2.50). We also received an extremely generous slice of Algerian Orange and Semolina Cake, served up with one of Boho’s special ice- cream concoctions, Honey, Rosewater, and Ginger (£7). I will not hold back in saying this was a perfect winning flavour combination. Rosewater and Ginger can often be dominating and overpowering flavours – not the case with this dessert.
After years of serving, The Blue Man consistently delivers delicious and authentic North African food. With an incredibly friendly atmosphere provided by Laura and her lovely team, this restaurant fulfils any occasion. I’m sure it won’t be long before I return to try their Kemia plates.
10 Manchester Street, Brighton, BN2 1 TF. T: 01273 605885