Far too many pubs call themselves gastro pubs which are undeserving of the title so it was almost a revelation to eat at The Ginger Pig in Brighton, a pub which is a gastro pub in the true sense. The pub itself is technically in Hove and is an old art deco beauty which has been restored to highlight its 1920’s architecture. It has garnered a cult following among locals (I received recommendations from Essex Eating and Graphic Foodie) so on a Saturday night the place was packed to the rafters, no chance of a walk up table here. Luckily we had a booking which we were about half an hour late for but our lovely waitress gave us the impression she was unperturbed.
A jug of tap water arrived at our table without us even asking along with a basket of brown bread and butter, a small but sensible act that made me love The Ginger Pig from the minute we sat down. The menu trod the seasonal, local produce line but was also quite adventurous featuring dishes such as roast garlic and chestnut beignet with truffled cauliflower puree (£5.50). It could be a little poncy, but it wasn’t and the food was hearty and generous. The standard menu was also supplemented by a blackboard where several specials were chalked up. I knew I was not in London anymore when I worked out that most of the entrees were around £5 and the majority of the mains from £10 to £15. This was bargain gourmet eating.
From the actual menu, the ox tounge and cheek with cannelloni delivered a huge serving of offal along with an accompaniment of buttered spinach (£14). The dish was perfectly executed but my only complaint was that it was a little too meat/offal heavy as the cannelloni itself was also filled with oxtail. I do love my meat, but even for me this was perhaps a step too far on top of the stack of ox tounge and cheek. A better option was the cod from the specials board. This dish featured a cod fillet balanced on top of bite sized roasted potatoes and gussied up with some salsa. The emphasis was good sense over high style but the fish was fresh and firm and the potatoes fluffy on the inside with crispy exteriors.
Ox tounge and cheek
After a big day of eating we skipped the dessert menu proper and ordered pieces of homemade fudge (£2) along with (excellent) cocktails for a sugar hit and pick me up before heading out to brave Brighton’s night life. It was an absolutely freezing night in Brighton but we were warmed against the arctic sea breezes by our fully bellies and the contented feeling that you get when you have just had a very enjoyable meal. The ox tounge and cheek may not have been entirely successful, but I was more than happy to eat food where the chef had taken a bit of a risk and not pulled it off in its entirety rather than just churning out standard, safe and unremarkable pub meals.
Details: 3 Hove Street, Hove (Brighton) BN3 2TR (Ph 01273 736 123)