Qype: Brighton Coalition in Brighton

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I can’t vouch for Coalition as a nightclub, seeing as I haven’t been there since my student days when it was still called The Beach and seemed to run nothing but cheesy 80s and 90s nights. Which, incidentally, were awesome. Now, I only seem to end up in coalition in the summer, when Brighton beach is deliciously warm, completely packed and I want somewhere to chill out with an enormous jug of Pimms.

If you’re lucky enough to get a table, the staff are friendly, the service is fairly quick and the music is summery and funky. The outdoor seating area is a total sun trap though – we sat there for about three hours yesterday and I got incredibly sunburnt on one arm – so make sure (unlike very silly me) that you’re slathered from head to toe in sunblock!

Check out my review of Brighton Coalition – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: La Panza es Primero in Madrid

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Inside La Panza es Primero

After a night out on the town bar-crawling (in a civilised manner, of course) around Old Madrid, we decided to take an alternative route back to the hotel along the Calle Segovia. When we passed this place and had a look inside, we couldn’t help stopping for a quick glass of vino. It just looked so immensely cool with its combination of exposed brick walls, flashing neon, pictures and street signs. Not to mention the rather enticing, dusty bottles of wine displayed above the bar…

Oh, I’m weak-willed I know, but I’m a sucker for good wine and great bars.

Our tumblers of Rioja

The wine was served in short, fat, tumblers rather than wine glasses (as we found in several places) and was a lovely, smooth, fruity Rioja (my favourite Spanish wine, but if you’ve read any of my other Madrid reviews you’ve probably figured that one out already!) We perched at the bar as we weren’t intending to stay long, but even from there I could feel that the atmosphere in the restaurant was busy and buzzing. I was almost sorry that I’d already eaten earlier in the evening and definitely wished we’d found this place sooner than on our last night.

Check out my review of La Panza es primero – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: The Tin Drum in Brighton

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I used to come here a lot when I worked around Seven Dials way and never walked away anything but satisfied. This family-run business, established in 1998, now has three pubs throughout Brighton and Hove. In my opinion, this one is the original and best. Well, better than the Kemp Town one – I have yet to sample the delights of the latest Hove edition.

My favourite dish of theirs, and the one I used to have the most, was their grilled sirloin steak with hand-cut chips (the THICKEST ones you’ve ever seen), grilled vine tomatoes and peppercorn sauce. Although a bit pricey at £15, it’s immensely tasty (even though I usually feel like I’d like a few more chips please…)

All the food that The Tin Drum serves is incredibly flavoursome – the owners now have their own smallholding in Upper Dicker (just outside Hailsham) where they grow a lot of their produce and most of their meat is locally sourced as well. You can’t beat that kind of quality.

The atmosphere of the place is great: very relaxed and laid-back. It does fill up very quickly though on account of its fantastic reputation, so get in early if you want to sit down for a meal! The Tin Drum is a pretty unique place in that you’d feel equally at home with a coffee and a book as you would with an enormous steak and a bottle of red wine. It’s classy without being pretentious, chilled-out without being lifeless. If I lived closer to the Dials I’m sure I would spend a lot of time in here. A great place to go, no matter what mood you find yourself in.

Check out my review of The Tin Drum – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteen in Brighton

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Despite my usual scathing reviews of chain pubs and bars, I actually quite like the Ha!Ha! Bar. This is a different class of chain pub, which is reflected in the slightly more expensive pricing. They do however, in true chain pub fashion, often have drinks deals and food offers. Look out for their cocktail offers especially – their Cosmopolitans are absolutely delicious.

I’ve eaten here several times and have got to say that the value for money you get varies dramatically. At around the £10 mark for their risottos and about £15 for a sirloin steak, I don’t think the portions are big enough for you to truly feel as though you’ve got your money’s worth. Saying that, their butternut squash, blue cheese & walnut risotto is rather delicious. The best time to go here to eat is when they have their £5 lunch menu on offer, although it’s far more limited than the normal menu, it does offer great value. Last time this offer was on, I had their chicken breast with serrano ham which is usually £10.45. I think if I’d have paid full price for it I’d have been distinctly unimpressed, but for a fiver it was perfectly decent.

Of an evening, this place gets pretty busy and has a nice atmosphere. In the summer months, their outdoor area next to the entrance to Pavilion Gardens is a great place to sit and sun yourself with a white wine spritzer.

Check out my review of Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteen – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Yates in Brighton

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I really don’t have much to say on the subject of Yates. This is just another soulless, West Street-based booze hole. Another chain pub specialising in cheap wine, cheap beer, lethal cheap cocktails and cheap food, every time I’ve been to this place it’s been packed with incredibly drunk and rather unpleasant people. I just feel sorry for the staff, who are actually very nice.

Even though I’m generally not a fan of chain pubs, you’d be far better heading to the Wetherspoons across the road or The Font around the corner if you’re after a cheap night. True, you cannot fault Yates’ mass appeal or pricing and there are people that really enjoy this type of place, but I’m most definitely not one of them.

Check out my review of Yates – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: The Ranelagh in Brighton

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The Ranelagh is a small but brilliant pub in the heart of lower Kemp Town. If you’re a music-lover, you’ll probably know that this place is most famous for its Sunday night Blues gigs and eccentric decor. In winter, there’s usually a proper roaring log fire, which sits in a bizarre contrast to the blue flickering fairy lights on the ceiling which are wound around old records that must have been stuck up there for decades. They also have guitars and banjos randomly hanging from the rafters and the walls are plastered with old gig posters. Sounds odd, but combined it all creates a fantastically unique atmosphere.

If you fancy a change from your thumping R’n’B and club-style music in packed-out pubs on a Saturday night, then head to The Ranelagh. There always seems to be just the right number of people in there to make it feel buzzy but not crowded and the music is loud enough to appreciate but quiet enough to have a conversation. Definitely my kind of place.

They also have a brilliantly-placed beer garden situated right on St. James Street and is one of the best people-watching spots ever. I spent a year living two minutes away from this absolute gem of a pub and really miss heading to this home-from-home with my housemates of an evening.

Check out my review of The Ranelagh – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Walkabout Inn in Brighton

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Admittedly this is the only Walkabout I’ve ever been to, but due to the Wetherspoon-style chain nature of the place, I’m willing to bet they’re all pretty much the same. Generally, I’m not a fan of chain pubs, but if I were given the choice between this and the other generic delights that West Street has to offer (Oceana, Wetherspoon’s, Yates) then Walkabout would win hands-down. At least it has a nice outdoor area.

Before I came to University, I visited Brighton to check out the town and ended up eating in Walkabout on two out of three nights. The food is pretty good value for money (I was almost totally skint) – generous portions and rather tastier than your usual chain pub fodder. Their menu also has a bit of a twist. In addition to your standard burgers, steaks or chicken ‘n’ chips, Walkabout gives you the choice of things like crocodile steaks, kangaroo burgers and shark. I haven’t been brave enough to try the crocodile steak yet, but they’re beef steaks are pretty good. Not great by any means, but good.

Their drinks are also dirt cheap and they run a lot of student deals on week nights. It’s also a pretty sports-related place, so if you want to join a rowdy crowd to watch the rugby or a more chilled out crowd to watch the cricket then this is your place.

Check out my review of Walkabout Inn – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype