Probably Brighton’s most famous fish restaurant and oyster bar, English's long tradition for serving the very best the sea has to offer hits the spot every time.
The location itself benefits from being right in the heart of a pedestrian zone on East Street and in the popular Lanes district of Brighton. Although there are lots of bustling well known restaurants right on its doorstep which are also set on the pretty little square, English’s certainly doesn't need to worry. A pretty outdoor seating area is only telling half the story. Inside is the Red Room which is English’s main dining area. It is both quaint and quintessentially British and has some interesting artwork adorning the walls by local artist Marcus Stone which harks back to the Edwardian period.
Shoppers and locals flock to this restaurant in their droves to get their next fish fix. It’s as romantic for couples sitting inside who have been together for more than 40 years as it is for new couples who have barely got to know each other. Groups of friends are equally as welcome though.
Trish Goodwin heads up the kitchen staff and has done so for over ten years. Her preparation of dishes is excellent with every dish immaculately presented. You can guarantee that freshness is key in the oysters that are available. Choose from a selection of well cooked rock oysters grilled with bacon, tomato and worcestershire sauce, deep fried with a tangy lemon and tartare sauce, grilled with spring onions and soy sauce or served with wilted spinach and melted Swiss gruyere cheese.
Although mains are pricy they are worth every last penny. The Crab Americaine is delicate and fried in butter, chopped onions, shallots, and cooked in a sauce of burnt brandy and white wine. The brandy gives this dish an extra lift and hits the back of your palate as quick as a Ferrari hitting 60mph. The Sole Meuniere is also a good option. Simply cooked and pan fried in parsley and lemon juice this really is superb back to basics cooking. The same can be said regarding the grilled lobster which doesn’t need any julienne vegetables or rose petals but just a few knobs of melted garlic butter.
Other dishes include roasted field mushrooms accompanied by hazelnuts filled with mascarpone and beetroot and finished off with some unusual beetroot chips which go well with the vegetables or try the oozing baked aubergine generously stuffed with cous cous, sun dried tomatoes and parmesan and finished off with a piquant green olive salsa.
One of the highlights is the whole baked seabass in sea salt. Beautifully executed a member of staff will present the entire fish to you still in its coating before pulling it back to reveal the fish. A simple and effective touch which ensures that the fish is cooked to perfection. Uncomplicated desserts feature classics such as a creamy yet tangy creme brulee, a sharp lemon cheesecake and a duo of white and dark chocolate truffle encased in a passion fruit centre which doesn't dominate the other flavours, merely complements them.
With around sixty hand selected Champagnes, white, red and rose wines English’s are up there in the premier league for Brighton wine lists. Wines of the month are an additional incentive to try something new. Well worth sampling is the Spanish Zingara Blanco 2005. This has an aroma of peaches and melons thanks to the grapes from the Castilla region in the north of Spain. If nothing less than Champagne will do, opt for one of the house champagnes, Moutard Grand Cuvee NV. This is special because the source of the vines comes from a family run business going way back to the 17th Century in the south of Champagne area. Meanwhile, the Moutard 6 Cepage 2002 is simply perfect for a celebration as it offers a blend of six grape varieties including Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Petit Meslier.
The Last Word
With many celebrities frequenting this venue including the late Charlie Chaplin and Sir Laurence Olivier, English’s reputation for delivering high class seafood and fish is unmatched practically anywhere else in Brighton.