When someone you love loves somewhere and wants you to love it, sometimes it can only end badly with too high expectations and disappointment. Not so with my pal Lady K and her recommendation of The Urchin in Hove (we always eat well but make poor movie choices together, it’s just the rules cos you can’t have everything).
We’d been planning our date night on my return to Brighton for quite some time and decided on The Urchin as a must-try.
Booked early on a Friday evening (like, Granny early) and the place quickly filled up around us. I would definitely recommend booking.
With a nautical feel, the setting is cool but not try-hard. It’s nestled away behind the big Tesco on Church Road and is located on the pretty, terraced Belfast Street.
The menu is made up of ‘Staples’ which are always there and then an extensive specials board which is seasonal and based on what is available.
I, surprisingly, made my decision fairly swiftly and opted for the octopus starter (cos I’d seen it on Instagram) and the Malaysian prawns for main. I’m totally obsessed with Malaysian / Thai cuisine at the moment. Lady K went for tempura prawns followed by seafood bouillabaisse. We also ordered some fries to share.
Sautéed Octopus, Squid, Black Bean, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Sesame £9.50
This was the perfect summer starter; fresh, light, tasty. The sauce was delicately flavoured with hints of chilli, coriander and sesame. The octopus was a bit chewy but I’ve never had it before so have nothing to compare it to. Meanwhile, squid was cooked perfectly: just cooked and no more! The broccoli was a nice addition, as were the black beans which I’m not usually a fan of.
Tempura Prawns with Pad Thai Salad and Sweet Chilli – £9.00
My old pal Food-Envy made an appearance when I saw this. Luckily, I got to try them and they were delicious. The prawns were big and juicy in a light better, the pad Thai salad was beautiful with a light dressing and the chilli jam was rustically homemade.
Malaysian Prawns – £13.00
Then my other pal Dinnerware-Envy made an appearance as the main courses are served in these beautiful steel and copper bowls with lids which are theatrically opened at the table. The result of this is that you are met with not only the sight of the beautifully presented food but also the aroma jumps out and hits you in the face. The prawns (in shells) were served in a sweet curry sauce with puy lentils and a big basket of chunky bread on the side. The bread and fries were perfect for mopping up the last of the sauce after demolishing (very messily) the prawns.
Shellfish Bouillabaisse- £16.00
A variety of shellfish including mussels, squid and langoustine were presented in a deeply flavoured broth and accompanied by crispy croutons. The broth had a hint of five spice which was an interesting twist on the traditional version of bouillabaisse. Again, the fries and bread were well utilised in mopping up the steaming soup!
Fries – £3.00
The fries themselves are worthy of a mention. Homemade, hand cut, crisp but fluffy and seasoned with salt and pepper. Everything you want from a chip.
We also ordered a bottle of house wine which was very reasonable (and delicious) at £17.00.
It certainly wasn’t the cheapest meal I’ve ever been out for but nor was it the most expensive. For the quality of the food, theimpeccable service from the staff and the all round experience (we felt like we were a million miles away on holiday), it was worth every penny. The bill came to £75.00 including a tip. Despite the busy-ness of the restaurant we were never hurried and the staff were attentive at all times. These guys really know what they’re doing.
The Urchin is completely unpretentious and totally charming. The couple next to us actually had a Pretty Woman moment with shellfish flying across the room – I’ve been waiting all my life to say “slippy little suckers” so it was a dream come true!
I can’t wait to go back on my next visit to Brighton (well, Hove) for more!
💛 the wee food blogger