Friends come down to visit and their first demand is always “let’s go to the seafront for fish and chips”.
11-14 Madeira Drive, Brighton BN2 1PS
It happens every summer. Friends come down to visit and their first demand is always “let’s go to the seafront for fish and chips”. This poses a problem. I’ve lived here for nine years and I’ve never had good takeaway fish and chips on Brighton beach.
This may have changed, though. Fish+Liquor, a restaurant and takeaway with loads of outdoor seating, has recently opened on the former site of the Seagull on Madeira Drive. It’s had a complete overhaul and is now a colourful mash-up of comic-book wallpaper and vintage knick-knacks. The Seagull was a fairly ropey chippy that nonetheless did well due to huge tourist footfall. Some may suggest that Fish+Liquor will make money only for the same reasons. But I think that’s unfair. Their food is surprisingly good.
The menu is small, with all chip-shop staples covered: line-caught cod, plaice and haddock, fishcakes and goujons, a couple of burgers, saveloys and pies, even homemade curry sauce and pea fritters. My large cod and chips was pretty much flawless: batter was crisp, light and grease-free, coating a huge beautifully-steamed, well-seasoned fillet and served with homemade tartare sauce, mushy peas (not homemade, but that’s good) and “chippy chips” that are hand-cut on site every morning. The presentation was ridiculous - nobody needs their mushy peas served in a latté glass - but when I’m being fed well, I can overlook daft gimmicks.
My friend’s “Mad Patty” burger arrived in a frying pan on a wooden board (it’s the kitchen porter I feel sorry for) and pronged with a deep-fried prawn. Silliness aside, she declared it faultless (and this girl knows her burgers), with a juicy patty, lovely gherkin-dotted mayo, leaves, cheese, chorizo, and a proper glazed brioche bun.
We were really impressed by the crunchy panko-coated fishcakes with red slaw, packed with fish and not at all stodgy. Onion rings were fat and moreish. Often a meal that consists entirely of deep-fried carbs gives a heavy-bellied feeling for the rest of the day, but this didn’t at all. Clearly someone in this kitchen is a dab hand with a fryer.
The small cocktail menu, scribbled on a blackboard, is basic, with a handful of crowd-pleasers. My mojito was tart and sweet, one of the best I’ve had for a good while. There are loads of beers available, too, and it’s great to see our very own Bison Beer and Brighton Gin on offer.
All in all, it’s great to finally be able to recommend a good seafront fish and chip place, and I imagine I’ll be spending a lot of time this summer on the warm stones opposite Fish+Liquor enjoying a decent takeaway.