Transformation is hardly an adequate word to describe the changes made to a pub that for some time was my local, and dare I say, one that I only ever ventured into the one time. Daddy Longlegs is quite remarkable in that change and a change very much for the better.
From boozer to modern bar and restaurant in a very stylish leap and on the evening I joined the charming mister H for an early supper, there was jazz. Now I’m ambivalent about music in bars and restaurants, only too often the choice is left to the staff and as such is to my mind too loud and too, dare I say it, too young, clubby even. This was actually not only rather appropriate in tone but also very well played, talented musicians, great vocals and a repertoire of classics, lounge jazz done well.
That’s enough of the ambience and on now to the main event, the food and drink. And as for drink right now I am staying alcohol free. For years the options have been sparse, the colas and juices, the sparking and the still have been dull dull dull!. At Daddy Longlegs they have fully embraced the low or no alcohol trend and I was offered a wide range of options. I opted for a chilled ice cold bitter drink that had all the grown up presence of a cocktail but without the wobbly results.
The menu is fashionably based on small plates and when sharing a deux that fashion works well, less so to my mind when in larger groups but that’s just me. Mr H is a regular so I trusted to his judgement when ordering and he did a very good job and actually chose the dishes that had caught my eye. So first out was a plate pork bao banh mi, soft steamed rolls filled with crisp pork and fiery kimchi. A sturdy start to the meal that set my taste buds tingling.
This was soon calmed by some fried Sussex made halloumi, the irresistible squeak of fried cheese on teeth but packed with far more favour than your average imported halloumi that can be so very very charmless. I loved this and loved the various sauces that it lay on too.
we moved on to one of my favourite fishes and one that we seldom see on menus. Red mullet came with truffled potato salad and it was a very satisfying combination, the salad judiciously scented with truffle and the fish falling easily from the bone, crisp skin, flaky flesh, pretty damned good.
Our final dish was also fish and this time a large tranche of pollock served on celeriac purée with mussels. This soon revealed itself to be the star of the evening. Fish cooked perfectly, enough plump mussels to share without argument, a well made purée and pickled celeriac in tiny dice that required the interrogation of the chef, who, I am pleased to say, was happy to reveal how they had been made.
There were desserts but I was actually sated and to be honest did not need sugar to remove the flavours of that last dish.
So there we have it, a nice room, good company, great music, a grown up low alcohol drink and excellent and inventive cooking. I believe that the menu changes often, so do not be disappointed if the food I have mentioned is no longer there, and I am told that the Friday fish menu and Sunday lunches are equally impressive so I may well be back very soon.
1 Arundel Road, Brighton BN2 5TE