We’ve all got that beer-loving friend who takes a lifetime at the bar choosing their tipple. Now, imagine you’re at the bar after a long old day and your beer buddy is stood in awe in front of a 19-strong list of different ales, lagers and ciders. I breathed an inward sigh, thinking I was in for a long night. Fortunately for me, Brighton Beer Dispensary has some very knowledgeable bar staff. After asking what flavours we enjoy, we were sat down with two fantastic drinks within about five minutes – off to a fantastic start!
Our bartender really paid attention to our tastes, serving me up a Helles Lagerbier at 5.2% (£5.40), which had a beautifully subtle hoppy edge to it. My companion opted for a light amber Wiper and True ale, which was enjoyed thoroughly (£3.15 per half pint/£4.20 for two thirds of a pint). Pint-in-hand, we took our seats at a bar-style table to take a look at the menu. This being an evening focused on a proper pub experience, who were we not to try the infamous Beerkins (£4)? The ultimate drinking snack, these are deliciously salty gherkins encased in a gorgeously light batter, served with mustard mayo. Now, I’m not really a fan of gherkins – but the chefs here have (somehow) succeeded in creating the perfect crunchy batter, without the sogginess. Beerkins give you a sense of eating a hotdog (without the sausage, obviously), and are so addictive they keep you going back for more. We could easily have demolished a portion each of these. In unison our oxtail nuggets (£4) arrived. Honestly one of the richest tastes I’ve ever tried, these give a deep, warming flavour that comforts you like sitting by a crackling fire on a cold winter’s day.
Next to arrive were our selections from The Dizzy Gull’s specials menu. First up was the salt cod croquette (£4) accompanied by squid ink aioli. The croquette had a fluffy consistency – filled with a creamy mix of mashed potato and cod, the flavours were balanced beautifully. Not too fishy, the perfectly golden breadcrumb casing gave a fantastic crunch to juxtapose the inside. Alongside the croquette, we were presented with crispy pork belly fries (£5). Now, these are not your regular fries – these are chunky, mouth-watering, proper chips. In fact, they’re dripping chips made with succulent chunks of pork belly, spicy Sriracha and a wonderful homemade bacon mayo. The hot sauce was a fantastic touch, adding a fiery bite to each mouthful. An egg proudly topped this dish, oozing volcanic yolk that smothered our chips, adding texture and taste to die for.
Opting to share a main after a good amount of food to start, we were advised that the bier braised beef cheek (£9) was quite unforgettable. Served with vindaloo mash and gravy, beetroot chutney and onion salad, I was honestly a little bit intimidated by the potential spice. Digging in, the beef was totally melt-in-your-mouth amazing. Although the first bite ensured our ears blew a little bit of steam, the heat became more of a nice, slow burn as we got stuck in. The beetroot chutney and onion salad were the perfect lifesavers as they cooled our palates, allowing us to continue to shovel down the good-sized portion in a timely fashion. To quench our thirst, we gratefully accepted one last round of beers. This time my dining partner chose the Pressure Drop Pale Fire at 4.8% (£3.30 half pint/£4.40 three-quarter pint), which boasted a long-lasting smoky taste, while I chose the Four Pure Indy Lager at 4.4% (£4.90 per pint). The latter went down so easily, concluding our meal wonderfully.
As we finished up the last of our beers, the pub began to bustle with people, ready for the weekly quiz night. Sliding out onto Dean Street with full tummies, we were sad to find our evening coming to a close. My beer buddy turned to me and cheekily asked, ‘pint?’
The Dizzy Gull is at Brighton Beer Dispensary, 38 Dean Street, Brighton, BN1 3EG