With my summer holiday already feeling like a distant memory, I realise how incredibly lucky we are that there are so many authentic restaurants across Brighton and Hove that you can almost imagine yourself on holiday in an exotic country – rather than a few blocks away from Hove lawns as we walk from the beach up to Market on Western Road.
We booked an early table on a Tuesday night, expecting the usual couple of tables but found the restaurant already almost packed to capacity as we were shown to our stools at the bar. I love the energy at Market, with the open style kitchen bar, the walls hanging with cured meats, the low lighting and ambient music the vibe immediately transports me to a tapas bar somewhere in Europe.
Kate who owns the restaurant takes the time to talk us through the menus and explains that tonight is their rather popular Tapas Tuesday (I understand now why it is so busy – five plates of tapas for just £22 is an absolute steal!).
To further immerse myself into the holiday vibe I order myself a Campari and Orange to wet my palette whilst Natalie opts for a Schooner of Estrella. We can’t resist ordering ourselves an Oyster each (served with sherry vinegar and shallots), plus some of the delicious bread with flavoured butters and some of their famous Crispy Olives with Mojo Rojo and Greek Yoghurt.
The concept of the restaurant is set out as if you were in a Market, with the menu offerings laid out as the Greengrocer (veggies) Fishmonger, and Butcher and so on.. They also offer an amazing selection of authentic Spanish cheese and charcuterie – which would normally be my first stop but having sampled this menu on many occasions we decide to choose a selection of small plates. We choose a couple of dishes from each section plus a side of new potatoes served with spicy sobrasada and herb butter.
Our first dishes to arrive is a small plate of Spanish soft cheese dumplings served with summer veg (peas, asparagus, samphire and peas shoots) and lemon dressing, which was a fresh, light and summery start to the evening. Next up was the equally bright and seasonal salad of squid, prawn, orange segments, olives, Lebanese cucumber and paprika. We enjoy both immensely but start to worry we may not have ordered the most substantial dishes on the menu.
This soon changed as our next two dishes are presented to us, a roasted half aubergine with a sticky glaze, sprinkled with crunchy grains of quinoa, and a grilled fillet of mullet served with ajo blanco, aioli negra, nori and almonds. We devour both the dishes which are perfectly accompanied by a glass each of the highly recommended 4 Meses Monastrell – a beautiful red wine with notes of blackberries, cherries, vanilla, chocolate and spice.
Our last plates to come out are definitely the stars of the show – slow braised Iberian pig cheeks in a sweet sour sauce, served on a bed of cauliflower puree, with tiny pickled cauliflower florets and stewed plums. The dish arrives with the side of new potatoes which are perfectly seasoned and really a dish in their own right with the spicy sausage and herb butter. The pig cheeks are rich and succulent and absolutely jam packed with flavour with the sharp bites of pickled cauliflower and sweet plums providing a mouthwatering array of flavours and textures – definitely the dish of the day in my opinion.
We are just about able to squeeze in a chocolate truffle each to round of the superb meal – as ever when leaving Market I am suitably filled with delicious food, divine wine and gratitude for a restaurant getting it so right.
Market is at 42 Western Rd, Hove, BN3 1JD. Tel: 01273 823707.