If you’ve been to Brighton and not visited The Hop Poles, have you really been to Brighton?
Nestled in the city’s picturesque Lanes district, this back-street pub is a short stroll from both the beach and the bustling town-centre, ensuring its popularity as a watering hole for locals and tourists ‘in the know’.
Featuring sturdy pine tables, walls festooned with retro memorabilia, and artisan lampshades that would make your grandma swoon, this eclectic venue intimately blends both the modern with the traditional.
The Hop Poles is renowned for a selection of mid-week meal deals, such as Monday and Tuesday’s two for £15 burger deal and Thursday’s mix n’ match Pie Day – but being a Sunday: it was all about the roasts!
As a bonafide Brighton institution, I’ve enjoyed a fair few nights out here over the years and always enjoyed the bar’s popular courtyard. So, it came as a welcome surprise to find the addition of a new expansive open plan area which is open until January.
Both the new garden extension and the permanent courtyard have heaters galore and are ideal cosy spots to while away the nights as winter slowly closes in.
The attentive staff ensured table service was prompt, with a deliciously spicy bloody Mary (£8) and chilled pint of Staropramen (£5.50) landing swiftly on our table accompanied by the menu for its resident The Pickled Oyster Kitchen.
It’s Sunday menu offers a nice break from traditional roast starters, with hummus, marinated olives and toasted pitta bread (£5), and beef or five bean chilli nachos with jalapeno peppers, melted cheese, tomato salsa and guacamole (£8) the perfect choice for snacking with friends.
Nevertheless, we decided to go straight for the roast options. I choose the leg of lamb studded with rosemary and garlic (£12.95), while my friend opted for the slow-cooked pork belly with sea salt crackling (£12.95).
Both arrived swiftly with piping hot layers of delicious looking roastiness balanced on top of one another.
The sizable portion of moist and tender lamb was dutifully accompanied by roast potatoes and gravy so tasty, that as a northerner – I’d happily order those last two as a meal themselves.
Seasonal vegetables included perfectly cooked roasted carrots and a non-overpowering red cabbage which many venues these days struggle to balance.
Spread around the plate’s side was as purée harbouring an intriguing taste which I was a touch unsure about but my dining companion loved, though more confusing was the discovery of a smattering of peas (though that’s more of a stickler for die-hard roast fans).
Our side of cauliflower cheese with truffle oil (£3.50) was consumed with gusto, and the fact that every roast comes with a homemade Yorkshire pudding was a nice touch as many places discriminate this welcome addition from roast to roast.
By the time my friend let me taste the slow-cooked pork, the crackling was all but devoured – though I was assured it was a real highlight. The meat itself was beautifully cooked, and with all the fat rendered, fell apart before my fork came anywhere near it.
Homemade desserts include Raspberry and Vanilla crème brûlée (£5) and a dark Belgian chocolate and organic cranberry brownie (£5) but in all honesty, the roast dinner was so filling we didn’t have space to try them.
Great staff, good food and a warming atmosphere are just some of the elements which ensure certain venues stay popular over the years. The Hop Poles has all of these and many more, and its status as a Brighton institution is well and truly warranted.
The Hop Poles
13 Middle Street, Brighton, BN1 1AL