Qype: Giggling Squid in Brighton

BrightonEating & DrinkingRestaurantsThai

The Giggling Squid in Hove is located approximately 45 seconds from the door of my office, which makes it the perfect place to go and grab a lunchtime bite.

Their lunchtime menu offers excellent value for money, with their “Two Dish Meal Combi’s” – a choice of vegetarian, chicken or prawn at £5-£5.95. For this price you get a choice of either vegetable tempura, spring roll, dumpling or prawn on toast accompanied by a small meal.

My personal favourite (and exceptional value for money) is the “One Big Dish” – a choice of either Pad Thai, Green Curry, Red Curry (my favourite), Cashew Stir Fry, Grilled Beef & Sticky Rice or Beef & Oyster Sauce which cost between £5.50 and £6.30. An absolute bargain as for that money you feel completely stuffed… then go back to the office and fall asleep.

I’ve always found the service here, along with their other restaurant in The Lanes, to be warm, friendly and welcoming. For this I’m more than willing to overlook the fact that when it’s busy, it can be a little slow.

Plus, you get jelly beans with your bill. What more could you want?

Check out my review of Giggling Squid – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: The Old Bank Steak & Ribs Restaurant in Brighton

BrightonEating & DrinkingRestaurantsSteak HousesEating & DrinkingRestaurantsEating & DrinkingRestaurantsFamily restaurants

Inside The Old Bank

After wanting to visit The Old Bank for a while, I was delighted to be invited to another Brighton Qype event to sample the wine list and menu. Being a BIG fan of a good steak (and good wine, of course) I’ve been to a lot of steak houses – mainly chain-style ones which try hard to be faux-American and never quite beat a steak from a good butcher which I’ve cooked myself. This place is (thankfully) something completely different and in a class of it’s own.

I was the first one to arrive at the event (I have an awful habit of turning up to things stupidly early) and was greeted by Helen, the owner, and Jonathan, the general manager. It was lovely to chat to them a bit about the place first, which despite only being open for a couple of months already has the fantastic homely atmosphere of a well-established restaurant.

So, onto the food and wine. We started with a Prosecco which was wonderfully light, easy to drink and an absolute bargain at £19.75 for a great bottle of bubbles. The next wine we had was a Muscat – a gorgeous, sweet dessert wine priced at £16.50 for 50cl – accompanied by a chicken liver pate (on the menu at £4.50) which complemented it perfectly.

Next came a Chardonnay blend accompanied by warm goats cheese (£3.95 on the menu) – even though I’m not normally a lover of Chardonnay, this wine was actually really nice and very decently priced at £13.95.

Then it was onto the reds and the meat dishes. The next wine we sampled was a Riesling supplied by local wine merchant Henry Butler – priced at £24.95, this was at the top end of the wine list and it was easy to see why. It went fantastically with the chicken wings (from £3.95 a portion) which come in either ‘hot’ or ‘not’. Because I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to spice, I went for ‘not’.

I’ve heard great things about The Old Bank’s ribs and I wasn’t disappointed – they are blimmin’ fantastic, especially when accompanied by another of Butler’s fantastic wines – a beautiful Malbec priced at £22.50.

The minute steak and chips, £6.95

But they saved the best until last – the steak. Jonathon bought out a medium-rare 28oz rib eye steak on a platter (which is ALL yours for £29.95) and I’m not ashamed to say I could probably have eaten the entire thing. With the steak we had a gorgeous rich, full-bodied Shiraz priced at £20.25. Perfect.

After such enticing tasters of the menu I had to order something – I went for the minute steak which is served with chips, jacket or a salad for £6.95. Keen to sample more wine, a few of us sampled their house Malbec which (although not as good as the one from Butler’s Wine Cellar) is fantastic value for £11.95.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the evening – great food, great wine and a great atmosphere. I’m very much looking forward to going back there and tackling one of those 28oz steaks. You never know, I might even share it. Yeah, right.

Check out my review of The Old Bank Steak & Ribs Restaurant – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype Guru Event: a meal at Giraffe in Brighton

BrightonEating & DrinkingRestaurants

Living in Brighton, it’s very easy to develop an aversion to chain restaurants as there are so many fabulous, quirky, independent places to eat. I usually find chains horrendously overpriced and poor value for money by comparison. For this reason, I had avoided going to Giraffe until I was invited there for a Qype Guru event. So, with an open mind and an empty belly, along I went.

On entrance, we were greeted by a wonderfully smiley and enthusiastic waitress who offered us a seat and had no hesitation in suggesting to us the best wine on the menu – a Sauvignon Blanc which I must say was absolutely delicious. Their wine list is good, but rather expensive by the glass so I would recommend getting a bottle with your meal.

Sitting down and perusing the menu I was surprised as there really is no way to classify what type of food Giraffe offers – the menu had everything from burgers to Mexican food to Oriental influenced dishes. Picking a starter that complemented the main was a bit of a challenge.

In the end I went for the chicken wings sharing starter, which was about the same price as the individual ones (around the £5 mark). The size of the starter was impressive – six enormous chicken wings coated in a tasty Asian-style marinade. Probably a bit too much for one person as an appetizer, but hey, I was feeling greedy.

For the main I went for the teriyaki salmon and wasabi rice because I thought it sounded like the most intriguing thing on the menu. The salmon fillet was beautiful and cooked to perfection – and for £12.95 it wasn’t bad value either. As for the rice, I’m still undecided. A brave and interesting idea but one I’m not sure quite worked the way I thought it would.

As far as chain restaurants go, Giraffe really isn’t half bad. The staff are great, the feel of the place is fun (even if the music was a bit loud) and the menu, wherever possible, is locally sourced in Kent and Sussex. The quality of the food is good and there are several deals on food and drink available throughout the week which make it even better value for money. Definitely worth a visit.

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

Qype: Famous Moes Pizza in Brighton

Brighton

Being severely intolerant to wheat, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that takeaway pizza is a luxury that’s denied to me. Until now. Thanks to a comment from a fellow Qyper, I was informed that Famous Moes on Southover Street do, in fact, offer gluten-free pizza bases.

I was so excited that it was all I could do to stop myself from ordering pizza there and then. In the end, I decided there was in fact nothing stopping me from doing just that and picked up the phone. I spoke to a very nice man who explained to me that there were a couple of limitations to this new found life of pizza takeaways – namely that they only come in the tiny size. Which is OK – definitely better than nothing. The upside is that they’re included in the buy-one-get-one-for-£2 deal. Awesome. So that’s two gluten-free pizzas for a tenner.

Oh my goodness, that tenner was SO worth it. I went for the ‘Smokey Moe’ and the ‘Beijing Duck’ – while the bases are clearly off-the-shelf frozen ones, nothing beats that amazing taste of takeaway pizza topping. The supermarket ones just don’t cut the mustard. I’ll definitely be ordering pizza from here again in the not-too-distant future – and hopefully they’ll get lots of gluten-free orders and branch out into doing larger, freshly made gluten-free bases.

Check out my review of Famous Moes Pizza – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: JB’s American Diner in Brighton

BrightonEating & DrinkingRestaurantsAmerican

Inside JB'S American Diner

Until recently, I’d always walked straight past this place at the end of Black Lion Street. I’m sure you’ve all done the same as, let’s face it, it doesn’t look like the most inviting place in the world. So when a friend invited us out for a get-together here, I wasn’t overly enamoured with the idea. I thought it’d be a horrendous, shabby place – and overpriced to boot given it’s location.

I’m happy to admit I was totally wrong.

The inside of this place couldn’t look more different from the impression it gives on the outside. 50s-style diner tables, red faux-leather upholstered booths, an American pool table (only 50p a game), rock ‘n’ roll music playing, images of hollywood stars plastering the walls… I felt like I’d just stepped onto the set of Grease.

The food isn’t half bad either – a massive plate of steak and chips cost about £12 and the starters are all under a fiver. They also serve the most immense-looking milkshakes (I believe one is Bailey’s flavoured?)

Scrummy Steak 'n' Chips

All in all, this place made for an unexpectedly good evening – the only thing they lose points for is the slowness of their service. Far more authentic an ‘American Diner’ and much better value for money than any soulless branch TGI Friday, I would definitely recommend checking this place out if you’re down in Brighton and want to grab a bite to eat by the seaside.

Check out my review of JB’s American Diner – I am Alice_Reeves – on Qype

Qype: Browns in Brighton

BrightonEating & DrinkingRestaurantsBrasseriesEating & DrinkingRestaurants

Browns is one of those rare places where it’s impossible to go wrong with anything that you order. One of Brighton’s most well-known restaurants, it has a well-deserved, excellent reputation. Although slightly at the pricier end drinks-wise at between £5-£8 a cocktail, the food offers undeniably brilliant value for money. At around £5-9 for a starter and £10-£18 for a main course, it’s not a particularly cheap evening out, but it is an excellent value one.

The interior of the place feels distinctly continental – bistro-style seating, lots of plants, a huge floor-to-ceiling window, specials written in swirly writing on chalk boards and incredibly friendly, well-trained staff. I actually cannot fault the atmosphere of the place. It isn’t stunning, but it complements the menu and food pricing perfectly. In the same way as the food, you get what you pay for in atmosphere too.

Goat's Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

You want a bit more detail about the food? OK then. As an aperitif cocktail, I ordered a chilled white port with Fever Tree tonic which was absolutely delicious and not bad value as far as the rest of the drinks menu goes at just £4.25. For starters, I had the goat’s cheese stuffed mushrooms (£5.25) which were served with a garnish of rocket. I’ve got to say they were gorgeous. I don’t know what the goat’s cheese was flavoured with, but it was marvellously sharp and tangy. As a main course, I went for the prosciutto-wrapped chicken breast stuffed with telagio, accompanied by wilted spinach and butternut squash (£12.95) with a side of chunky chips (£2.95). It was to die for – the strong taste of the telagio had spread through the entire chicken breast, which had been pan-fried to make it go deliciously crisp. Mouth-wateringly good. The chunky chips, which were hand-cut and tasted almost garlicky, were so delicious I’m craving them again just writing this.

Prosciutto-wrapped Chicken Breast Stuffed with Telagio

The service, although a tiny bit slow, was impeccable otherwise. Our waitress was lovely, and when my friends’ sparkling wine was served in a chipped glass (which she didn’t realise until half-way through the drink), another brand-new full glass was brought over in the blink of an eye. Top marks from me – I’ve definitely got to go here again soon.

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

Qype: Wagamama in Brighton

BrightonEating & DrinkingRestaurantsJapanese & Sushi

I must say that even though so many of my friends absolutely adore Wagamama, I just don’t quite get the hype. Firstly, I don’t like the canteen-style seating, where everyone sits along a giant bench. When I eat out, I like a table to myself and my friends thank you very much. Also, there isn’t much I can eat – only a limited selection of the main dishes are wheat-free as most are made with wheat noodles or contain soy sauce or both. As for the starters, I may as well forget it unless all I want is a bowl of edamame beans.

The food I did have wasn’t particularly tasty either – just a pile of bland rice and chicken – and was most definitely overpriced at about £8. This is an expensive fast-food place that often isn’t even that fast, on the handful of occasions I’ve been here we’ve all been served at different times meaning that some people have finished eating while others hadn’t been served yet.

If it’s authentic, value for money Japanese food you’re after, I would recommend heading down Jubilee Street to Pompoko (http://www.qype.co.uk/place/315695-Pompoko-Brighton)

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