The Brighton & Hove area of Sussex is spoiled with choices when it comes to eateries with the area boasting the largest number of restaurants outside of the capital. For residents in the area, this is somewhat of a blessing. The variety of options are seemingly endless, with cuisine from all across the globe, lining the streets of the City. For the restaurateurs, though, this diversity and volume dictate a certain level of competition that’s rare in most Sussex towns. The establishment’s USP, ‘on-trend’ allure or simple reputation are all fundamental factors that will dictate whether the venue will survive or whether it will join the scrapheap, as many do in any bustling metropolis.
One such place with a number of USPs of its own, is the Urchin in Hove. It’s somewhere that I’d been recommended to visit on a few occasions, but had until recently, never managed to get along to. Having opened just 18 months ago and tucked away in a less-than-obvious side street, the Urchin has served as the original home to the increasingly popular Brighton Gin brand, whilst serving a delectable array of fishy delights on a daily basis, from lunchtime through to dinner and beyond.
Alongside the aforementioned Brighton Gin, The Urchin also boasts an impressive collection of craft beers; all displayed in full view and for everyone to see as they arrive.
The Urchin is (quite literally) a venue of two halves, with the main entrance leading you into an informal, pub-style space, with a large bar area and high tables that will seat 2s and 4s throughout. Walk past the craft beer display and into the back room, you’re presented with a more intimate dining space which houses a number of larger tables, all surrounded by wood paneling and stylish seaside décor that really sets a good scene.
My guest and I opted for the bar side and took our place at a high table near the front doors.
As you should expect for any venue offering fresh fish daily, The Urchin’s regular menu is relatively short in content, with the specials board offering a cram-packed with all manner of delights from the sea.
To say that they were seriously good dishes would only serve as an understatement and an injustice
We opted for the Scallop & Prawn skewers with harissa glaze (£5.50) and the Salt & Pepper Squid with Soy & Ginger dipping sauce (£8.00) to start and immediately chose to share them once they arrived. To say that they were seriously good dishes would only serve as an understatement and an injusticeFollowing this, along with the excellent wine that was chosen by my guest, we chose the Piri Piri Mussels (£10.50) and the Shellfish Bouillabaisse (£16.00) to round off our lunchtime meeting, and as we hope our pictures demonstrate, the freshness and quality of the food was really rather good. The depth of flavour to be found in the Bouillabaisse was something to behold and reason enough to pay a visit; providing it’s on the menu when you go.
Brighton & Hove, even with its diverse and numerous eating places, lacks a certain privacy and discretion that you might find in certain venues in the capital. The Urchin has all of the promise of delivering this kind of intimacy
So it’s reasonable; it’s tucked away and slightly private (in a sense). It offers a ‘public’ bar area to enjoy, along with a great outside space and a more ‘private’ dining space, so what is it that I can’t quite put my finger on?
Brighton (& Hove), even with its diverse and numerous eating places, lacks a certain privacy and discretion that you might find in certain venues in the capital. The Urchin has all of the promise of delivering this kind of intimacy and it’s my opinion that it would be a real win for the business community. Instead, whilst speedy and friendly, the service feels a little over-relaxed from a diner’s perspective. No warm welcome on arrival, no coat-taking or seat offering; it’s more a case of taking a pew where you find it and using your initiative.
I guess it’s the way of the house at The Urchin; an informal, relaxed environment and it’s by no means offensive. In any case, what they lack in attention, they more than make up for with their great food.
The Urchin- 15-17 Belfast St, Hove BN3 3YS
Tel: 01273 241881