I absolutely adore The Hop Poles, it’s easily one of my favourite pubs in Brighton. The only downside is that so many other people feel the same way it’s near-on impossible to get a seat unless you get there about an hour before you want to eat or queue at the door as it opens.
The first thing that hits you when you walk in (provided, of course, that you look upwards) is the enormous octopus made of hubcaps on the ceiling. Absolutely brilliant. There’s also an alligator made of various car parts outside in the trellis-covered beer garden. The rest of the decor, in stark contrast, is very traditional and homely – chunky rough-hewn tables and a huge wooden bar with gleaming brass pumps. I’ve also been told that they have a fabulous selection of real ales, although I never touch the stuff so quite honestly I wouldn’t know one from another. I’m very happy with my pear cider thank you.
The best thing about The Hop Poles though is their food. They have a menu which changes on a daily basis and is sourced entirely from local produce. Their menu is a great mix of traditional pub fare (like sausage and mash, roast lamb and steak) as well as slightly more restaurant-style dishes (like risottos, roasted Mediterranean vegetable dishes and lasagnes). But the BEST bit is that on their menus they print fantastic (and often hilarious) descriptions of all the dishes detailing things like which of their chefs came up with the recipe and how and where they discovered it, how they think you’ll feel when you’re eating it or what the staff members think of the dish.
Among the dishes I’ve sampled are their sausage and mash, wild mushroom risotto, sweet potato with roasted Mediterranean vegetables and, the pièce de résistance, their Sunday roasts – beautifully presented, flavoursome locally-sourced meat and wonderfully al dente vegetables. Just get there early to secure a table!