Where To Eat The Best Seafood In Brighton & Hove

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Could there be a more fitting place for fish, chips, pickled cockles and the rest than Brighton? A quintessential seaside town, but with a food scene and collection of restaurants to rival any city on these shores, if it’s fish you’re after, fine dining or folksy, then this is the place for you. We’ve filled our bellies with the good stuff (it’s a hard life) to narrow down our recommendations to just a handful; our favourite places to eat seafood in Brighton and Hove.

Riddle & Finns, The Lanes

A Brighton institution, this one. Established in 2006, and drawing inspiration from high end, counter seating oyster bars in New York, Riddle and Finns is nominally a ‘champagne and oyster bar’, but it’s actually far more than that. The menu is globetrotting; there’s bouillabaisse, risotto, cerviche, sashimi and a carpaccio (from Venice) with a Thai dressing…hmmm. Fortunately, the vibe inside is unfussy; think white marble countertops easy to wipe down between sittings.

Accordingly, we think, it’s best to stick to the ‘traditional’ stuff, like their ‘fruit de la mer’, including cockles, whelks and clams from local waters. It’s a particularly enticing prospect in the evening, where from outside you can see the chefs at work and the whole place is illuminated with flickering candles which beckon you in. If you can’t get a table here, they also have a second joint Riddle & Finns The Beach, sitting atop Shelter Hall on the beachfront. 

Address: 12b Meeting House Ln, Brighton BN1 1HB 
Website: www.riddleandfinns.co.uk


Murmur

The restaurant with the best location in all of Brighton and Hove? In our humble opinion, yes. Sitting just a few yards back from the beach and directly in front of the old pier’s iconic 24-pillar Golden Spiral, Murmur is the second restaurant from chef Michael Bremner, who is chef/owner of the exemplary 64 Degrees in Brighton’s Lanes.

Named after Brighton’s famous starling murmurations, the food here is more down-to-earth and hearty than its older sibling, with a signature of lobster croquettes always a winner and the market fish of the day, grilled simply with greens and French fries, representing great value for around £25 (weight dependent, of course). There’s even a kid’s menu and space out front for them to play. Idyllic scenes, indeed.

Best of all? The beachfront, outdoor seating is walk-ins only; simply leave your name and number if there’s no tables, have a wander along the promenade or a beer at one of the nearby pubs, and the call always seems to come in promptly. Cheers!

Address: Kings Road Arches, 91-96, Brighton BN1 2FN

Websitemurmur-restaurant.co.uk


Brighton Smokehouse

Head towards the big blue from the city’s famous Lanes, get to sea level and next to the pebble beach you’ll find a collection of tables and chairs, a statue of a portly, bearded fisherman, and Brighton Smokehouse. With the mise en scene set so succinctly, and the smell of smoked fish permeating the outdoor seating area, it’s time to refer to the specials chalkboard for what’s good.

For us, nothing beats a smoked kipper roll and a fresh lemonade from the adjoining shop on a crisp, sunny day. We’ve also heard good things about the fish finger sandwiches from a neighbouring diner. It’s that kind of place; convivial and relaxed, and the perfect seaside brunch.

Address: Kings Road Arches, Brighton BN1 1NB 

Website: brighton-smokehouse.business.site 


English’s Of Brighton

English’s is Brighton’s oldest seafood restaurant, and like a fine wine (or an ikejime mackerel hung in a salt chamber), it’s only getting better with age.

Sitting pretty across three former fishermen’s cottages in the city’s iconic Lanes, English’s has been helmed by the Leigh-Jones family since 1945, and there’s a keen sense of history in these walls. Huge paintings in the dining room, depicting fancily dressed frivolity from years gone by, set the scene beautifully for a seafood feast.

On the plate, old school classics like lobster thermidor and sole à la meuniere feel like the most appropriate order, and both arrive perfectly conceived, the sole in particular a glorious specimen, pulling away from the bone to reveal the very lightest of pinks, just as it should be, and needing little more than a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of parsley to send it on its way.

Owing to its position right in the mix of things, you’ll want to book ahead if you’re keen to get a lunchtime table at English’s, when the bulk of the Brighton Lanes footfall is galloping through, hungry for a taste of the sea. They’ll find it here.

Address: 29-31 East St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1HL

Website: englishs.co.uk


The Coal Shed

From the same team as the Salt Room, and though first and foremost a steak restaurant, the chefs at the Coal Shed have a wicked way with fish too, the restaurant’s charcoal grills used to glorious effect on thick tranches of bar-marked brill or monkfish tail on the bone; the best way to cook such a cut, make no mistake.

Both seafood and flame are just as well celebrated on the Coal Shed’s smaller plates, with a recent visit revealing the dish of the day to be the restaurant’s pile of shell-on grilled wild prawns, all blistered and burnished and dressed in a tumble of peanut XO, coconut and coriander. Roll your sleeves up, as this one gets messy!

During the week, between midday and 3:30pm, the Coal Shed offers a keenly priced ‘working lunch’ menu, with starters costing £4 and mains £16. That’s simple maths from where we’re standing; a generous meal for just £20. In terms of seafood, you’ll be spoiled, with oysters, crayfish rolls and grilled bream all swimming about on the current menu. Well, it would be rude not to!

Address: 8 Boyce’s St, Brighton and Hove, Brighton BN1 1AN

Website: coalshed-restaurant.co.uk


The Little Fish Market

Consistently named Brighton’s best restaurant, though actually in Hove, chef and owner Duncan Ray has created a glorious homage to everything seafood in this small but sophisticated 20 cover restaurant. Be warned; it’s purely a dinner affair, Tuesday to Saturday, and you’ll need to book well in advance to secure a coveted seat, but the effort is well worth it. That’s because it’s only the finest, freshest fish, sourced as locally as possible and cooked with the respect you’d expect. It’s a no choice tasting at around the £70 mark, but the price tag is fair. Already the proud owner of 3 AA rosettes, a Michelin star surely isn’t far away.

Address: 10 Upper Market St, Hove BN3 1AS 
Website: www.thelittlefishmarket.co.uk 

 © The Little Fish Market  

Brighton Shellfish & Oyster Bar

You just love to see it when satiating your appetite beachside. Brighton Shellfish and Oyster Bar isn’t a ‘bar’ in the sense of cocktails and blokes wearing loafers with no socks, but rather a beach shack doing lots of traditional British seaside treats that any seafood lover lusts after. All shellfish is laid out and visible in tubs and on ice, and the place feels as old school as it gets. Just lovely. Accordingly, dressings sit on a metal table to the side of the till, with Tabasco, vinegar, gherkins et al for dressing your oysters to your own requirements. You did order the oysters right?

Equally, the £7 lobster roll or bap with gherkin and cayenne pepper mayo is an absolute steal. They have seats to the left, perched on the pebble beach, making this a great choice for a picnic with a cool (not cold) beer in a plastic pint glass from nearby pubs seeming the perfect accompaniment.

Address: The Fishing Quarter 199 Kings Road Arches, Brighton BN1 1NB
Website: www.brightonshellfish.co.uk 


Bankers Fish & Chips

Family owned and family focused, this one, with secret batter recipes discussed in hushed tones but the clatter of kids (drawn in by a great children’s menu) decidedly not hushed. We love this kind of place. There’s a takeaway, ‘express’ menu and also a lengthier, restaurant one – expect to see 15 types of fish on the restaurant menu at any one time – and a devoted dedication to sustainable sourcing. It’s a 5 minute walk from the beach if you’d like to enjoy your fish’n’chips to the sound of the lapping sea, but if the inclement bluster or threat of seagulls puts you off, there’s also ample indoor seating. They are the previous winner of the prestigious Fish and Chips awards and as one of the top 25 chippies in the UK. 

Address: 116A Western Rd, Hove, Brighton BN1 2AB 
Website: bankersfishandchips.co.uk 

© Bankers Fish & Chips

The Urchin

Housed in a residential area in a working class part of Hove, this is still no doubt a pub acting as the neighbourhood living room, but just with a sterling focus on doing really interesting shellfish dishes.

There’s two menus. One, an evergreen, with seaside town favourites like potted shrimp, oysters with pickled, brunoise shallot, and a quarter pint of cockles. The other lets the chef’s creativity (and love for travel) run wild, with lots of South East Asian flourishes. On our last visit, Malaysian prawns with lentils caused orange stains on the finger nails and purrs of appreciation on the lips, and clams in a clear dashi broth was clean and lively. Staying true to their pub (formally the Bell) origins, they have a microbrewery in the basement which results in their own beer ‘Larrikin’ on tap. If it doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are around 120 other beers to choose from. An absolute gem.

Address: 15-17 Belfast St, Hove BN3 3YS 
Website: www.urchinpub.co.uk 


The Salt Room

The Salt Room’s website claims it as ‘Brighton’s best seafood restaurant’; a bold claim, indeed, but it’s not far off. Part of a group of three – the Coal Shed in Brighton and one of the same name in London – this is a place which ticks all the boxes for great fish cookery; sustainable sourcing and simplicity. The menu resists the urge to globe-trot, and this time, we think that’s welcome.

Inside, it’s a surprisingly cavernous space with a good buzz and young, enthusiastic staff. The restaurant is compartmentalised neatly and cleverly, with lots of different spaces and areas, so the buzz carries through the restaurant and acoustically it works.

Anyway, we’re here to talk about fish, right? The grill is used liberally and it’s all the better for it; good news for the whole fish destined to be blistered and burnished on it. Saying that, perhaps the best thing on the menu is the salt cold fritters with whipped cod’s roe; yep, as saline as that sounds, and delicious too. 

Keep an eye out for Burnt Orange, another restaurant from the group found in The Lanes. Here, it’s all about grown up drinks and small plates that have been kissed by the grill, with the flamed sea bream already garnering plaudits from Brighton’s foodies.

Address: 106 Kings Rd, Brighton BN1 2FU 
Website: www.saltroom-restaurant.co.uk 


Cafe De La Mer

There are fewer better places to sit back and have a cold one and a plate of calamari than Cafe De La Mer, which sits right on Brighton’s beachfront, overlooking the pebbles and within earshot of the live music playing at the Brighton Music Hall.

Whilst a cover version of Valerie rings out across the promenade, tuck into freshly fried, flour dusted whitebait with nothing more than a squeeze of lemon, or a plate of scampi with a ramekin of ketchup and a side order of sea air. Whilst this isn’t necessarily the best seafood in Brighton, it’s certainly one of the best times you’ll have here, and a true, quintessential seaside experience. Cheers to that!

Address: 124A, Kings Road Arches, Brighton BN1 2FN

Website: cafedelamerbrighto.wixsite.com

Joseph Gann
Joseph Gann
Chef and food writer, with an interest in mental health and mindfulness

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