The lure of a ‘taste of Brittany’ evening at Brighton’s oldest and best-known seafood restaurant this week was too strong to resist. English’s in Brighton’s famous Lanes was holding this French-themed event as part of its series of supper club evenings.
Even my allergy to mussels – meaning I’d have to forego the starter – didn’t put me off.
I had been looking forward to the evening. I have a soft spot for Brittany, having gone to university in Rennes. I don’t think I could quite see myself living there, mind – the weather isn’t good enough.
And there are no vineyards.
The same family has run English’s since 1945, and seafood has been served at the address for over 150 years, according to its website. (Some of the restaurant’s décor would appear to substantiate this claim, but I digress.)
To avoid making myself ill, I swapped the moules marinières for seared tuna as my starter, and it was very tasty. The others wondered whether cooking the mussels in cider would have been more in keeping with the theme of the evening, but agreed that this classic style was very good.
Langoustines grillées au beurre à l’ail followed.
The main course was a blanquette de lotte aux coquillages, or poached monkfish in a creamy sauce of prawns, cockles and Muscadet (pictured). It was delicious. We enjoyed it with an excellent Pouilly Fuissé.
“I had been looking forward to the evening. I have a soft spot for Brittany, having gone to university in Rennes”
Perhaps the most Breton course of the meal was dessert, a far Breton. This milk pudding had been made with prunes soaked in Calvados and was great.
There may be most fashionable seafood restaurants in Brighton, but English’s survives, in part, because it has stayed true to itself. Although its promotional material suggests it offers contemporary twists on old favourites, I would say that classic French cuisine is its forté.
And sometimes that’s just what you want.