Individual Awards

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Best Restaurant

The Little Fish Market

Winning for the third year in a row, you’ll find this unassuming 22-cover restaurant tucked away on a side street just off Hove seafront.

Chef Duncan Ray’s long experience of working in Michelin-starred restaurants shines through in a tasting menu of modern seafood dishes that perfectly balance simplicity and skill – recent examples include Gilthead sea bream wild garlic risotto, morel and artichoke, and Skrei cod with vanilla and English sparkling wine sauce.

With beautifully-executed food and a charming front-of-house team, it’s easy to see why The Little Fish Market continues to remain people’s top tip for Brighton’s first Michelin star.

The Little Fish Market
10 Upper Market St
Hove
BN3 1AS
01273 722213
www.thelittlefishmarket.co.uk

Best Chef

Duncan Ray

Brighton’s Best Restaurant in 2020 is also home to the city’s best chef, with Duncan Ray winning the award for the third year running. The Surrey-born chef has worked in some of the best kitchens in Europe, including L’Ortolan, Lettonie, The Fat Duck and the three-Michelin starred Georges Blanc in eastern France. After several years travelling, he returned to the UK at the age of 23 to take the head chef role at Penny Hill Park Hotel, before spending several years as a private chef, cooking for A-listers and royalty. He then ran The Five Alls in the Cotswolds, before opening The Little Fish Market in 2013.

“I want to cook good food that people want to eat,” he says. “The famous chef Nico Ladenis always said ‘Precision, restraint and simplicity’ – and that’s what I live my life by.”

The Little Fish Market
10 Upper Market St, Hove BN3 1AS
01273 722213
www.thelittlefishmarket.co.uk

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Best Front of House

Chard

Run by sisters Benny and Mae Sullivan, and Mae’s partner Ciaran Thomas, Chard is a cosy, intimate restaurant located above chic boutique Igigi in Hove. Muted colour tones, natural materials and quirky bric-a-brac finds make for a calming, homely space, where stunning seasonal tasting menus are created using the best locally-sourced produce.

While chef Benny works her magic in the kitchen, Mae and Ciaran effortlessly run the front of house, making diners feel instantly at ease with their warm welcome and genuine love and enthusiasm for what they do. They’ve quickly built a loyal base of local regulars, and their charming, relaxed demeanour – and great sense of fun – make the Chard experience a truly memorable one.

Chard
Igigi General Store
31A Western Rd
Hove BN3 1AF
01273 027147
https://www.chardbrighton.co.uk/

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Best Out of Town Destination

Heritage by Matt Gillan

Matt Gillan is a familiar name to Brighton restaurant lover – the Great British Menu chef helped set up Pike & Pine (now Lucky Khao), before embarking on a new adventure near Haywards Heath.

After launching a hugely successful crowd-funding campaign, the talented young chef refurbished a previously unloved country pub in Slaugham in 2019, transforming it into a fine dining destination.

Multi-course tasting menus brim with creativity, exciting flavour combos  and plenty of technical ability. Think tortellini of crayfish with swede espuma and mushroom ketchup or coal finished pork belly with ponzu and pork fat dressing.

Don’t miss killer cocktails in the bar, while Heritage’s higher level Sunday lunches are gaining a following all their own, partly because diners have the option to order Gillan’s Great British Menu winning dish, The Herder, which comprises goat meat cooked in numerous different ways.

If getting home afterwards seems like too much effort, there are even beautifully furnished rooms in which to stay.

Heritage by Matt Gillan
Park Road
Slaugham
Haywards Heath RH17 6AQ
01444 401102
www.heritage.restaurant

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Best New Opening

Wild Flor

“Comfort, tradition and warmth” are the watchwords of this welcoming bistro on Church Road, which opened in 2018 and has become an instant hit.

Head chef Oliver Darby, who previously worked at the Gingerman, is a proponent of big, soulful flavours on a menu that is admirably old school – no small plates here, just starters, mains and puds with an Anglo-French feel. Think veal sweetbreads with chestnut and sherry cream sauce, followed by pheasant pithivier and a warm sticky ginger cake to finish.

Co-owners James Thomson, Faye Hudson and Robert Maynard bring easy charm to the intimate dining room, creating a warm,welcoming vibe that has quickly helped the restaurant build a loyal local following.

Add in Brighton’s Best Wine List (as decided by our panel of wine experts at this year’s awards), a knock-out Sunday lunch and excellent value lunch and early evening set menus, plus ‘bangers and Bordeaux Mondays’, and you have a restaurant that feels like it has been doing its thing for years not months.

Wild Flor
42 Church Road
Hove BN3 2FN
01273 329111
www.wildflor.com

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Rising Star

Fourth and Church

Fourth and Church has made the most ground on the Top 20 list in the past year, earning it the Rising Star title in the process.

Set up by Paul Morgon and Sam Pryor in 2015 as a deli, wine shop and restaurant all rolled into one, the business has recently undergone a major refurb with a new dining counter and sleek interior design, putting the emphasis firmly on wine bar and restaurant, rather than retail.  There’s still a fine selection of wines, supplied by wine merchant and local legend Henry Butler, while the food  is better than ever. Inventive small plates take inspiration from around the world, with a selection of snacks and charcuterie followed by hot and cold sharing plates, such as a salad of Westcombe ricotta, soy cultured trompettes and yellow beetroot or seared squid with nduja lentils.

A superb cheese board, one of the best sherry selections in town and regular tasting events and masterclasses provide further reasons to visit.

Fourth and Church
84 Church Road
Hove BN3 2EB
01273 724709
www.fourthandchurch.co.uk

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Best Sunday Lunch

The Set

Located just off the seafront on Regency Square, The Set has for five years been a popular venue of choice for evening meals with its smart, quirky a la carte menu and brilliant cocktails – but it’s also one of the coolest Sunday lunch spots in town. This is all down to the “Sunday Sharer”, which launched in September 2019.
On Sundays, a core ingredient – say superb Saddlescombe Lamb – is presented to diners in a variety of ways (this could be as rolled leg, lamb belly pastrami and lamb croquettes), beautifully showcasing not only the quality of the locally-sourced produce but the chefs’ skills and versatility, too. Add to this a variety of sides, sauces, a welcome drink and a dessert, and you’ve got one seriously epic lunch you won’t forget for a while.

It’s little wonder the Set’s Sunday lunch is such a terrific affair – dynamic chef-patron Dan Kenny previously ran the Dizzy Gull kitchen at Haus on the Hill as a side project, which won Best Sunday Lunch in 2017 and 2018.

The Set
33 Regency Square
Brighton
BN1 2GG
01273 324302
www.thesetrestaurant.com

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Best Wine List

Wild Flor

BBC Saturday Kitchen’s wine expert Jane Parkinson, The Spectator wine writer Jonathan Ray and Brighton Wine Company supremo Chris Orr helped judge more than a dozen restaurant wine lists nominated by our voters for this award.
Competition was tough with Fourth and Church, Kindling and Cin Cin all highly commended, but it was Wild Flor’s list that was the clear winner in the end.
The judges were impressed with the range and balance of the list, which mixes familiar grapes and regions with more idiosyncratic choices from Wild Flor co-owner and wine expert  Rob Maynard, who works with numerous suppliers to secure unique and hard-to-find labels.

There was also praise for the fair pricing with bottles from £23, plus a large range by the glass or carafe, while judges were also pleased to see options such as magnums, ‘flor’ wines and rarer vintages ‘from the cellar’.

“It’s a really exciting, well-chosen list,” according to Johnny Ray. “It makes me want to go back to the restaurant not just to eat, but to further explore the wines.”

Wild Flor
42 Church Road
Hove BN3 2FN
01273 329111
www.wildflor.com

 

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