Sunday, February 23

Dines Out: Burgers, beer and fine pub food

- October 18, 2016

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Two stories this week. Firstly a big hats off to a new fast food joint in the centre of town. I will confess that despite not being a fan of fast food there are times when they play their part in what can be a very busy life. I had heard of Smash Burger from an American friend and he was full of praise, so when I was invited along I thought why not, let’s give it a go. I’m glad I did. The premise is fast but quality. They use fresh and not frozen meats and they have their own unique “smash” method of cooking the burgers that works, The seasoning is good and butter is employed on the griddle. Add to that great sides, including deep fried pickles, and a good selection of drinks, including beers, and what is not to like? Needless to say I have already been back and not just because it’s fast and convenient, but because it is good and tasty and great value.

Smash Burger, 53-54 North Street, Brighton, 01273 771216

Secondly this week I dined at one pub because the pub we had planned to eat in was rammed to the rafters with quizzers, not that I have anything against quizzers, I am one myself. It was though too busy so instead we headed to The Independent at the top of Hanover where we found a very warm and friendly welcome. The pub is immaculate, stylish and comfortable, it has a nice blend of fashionable with trad styling that simply works, and the menu is simple and stylish too. Ms McD chose the vegetarian dish of polenta with parmesan and panko fried poached egg which she loved. Ms C and I found it hard to decide so chose two meaty dishes and waited for them to arrive before making a selection. In the end Ms C chose the prosciutto wrapped pork loin served with mashed potato, pickled carrot and a rillette. It was beautifully presented, generous to a fault and very tasty, or at least that is what she said as she made her way steadfastly across the plate. The rillette was breaded and fried and we all declared that it was, in a sense, a rissole. How I miss rissoles.

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Brilliant value in my book

I took the rare feather blade steak with fries, peppercorn sauce and salad. I love peppercorn sauce but all too often it is a harsh and badly made slop. This was very good indeed as was the steak. Our server had said that it was not a huge cut of meat but I would dispute that statement as it was a good size and certainly big enough. It was perfectly cooked too, properly rare as in red but not oozing blood and the outside was seared and tasty – but tasting of meat and not of “pan”. Yes, how often does that griddled meat actually taste of burnt griddle? The salad was crisp and fresh and nicely dressed and all for a round £10, brilliant value in my book.

We were so impressed by the mains that Ms McD and Ms C both decided to try the orange bread and butter pudding which they said was good but not stellar. I must say that bread and butter pud is not a dish that I would serve warmed up from cold, I like it fresh from the oven. light and still fluffy.

I chose a milk chocolate tart with glazed pecans and coffee cream. Now this really was stellar, a brilliantly made crisp chocolate pastry case with a smooth ganache and topped with plenty of whole nuts in a sharp caramel crust. Coffee cream on the side was not over sweetened and added perfect balance. We drank excellent beers, and one of those fancy ginger beers, and our bill came to an impressive £20 each or thereabouts. I will certainly be back.

The Independent, 95 Queen’s Park Road, Brighton, BN2 0GH
01273 602822, www.theindependent.pub


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