Sunday, 12 April 2009
Riddle & Finns, Brighton
A rainy bank holiday in Brighton wasn't quite the setting we had in mind. Regretfully acknowledging fish and chips on the beach wouldn't be on the agenda, we sought out a seafood setting elsewhere. I'm not very clued up on Brighton's culinary scene, though I do try to shoehorn in lunch at Bill's Produce Store or a bite to eat at Pinxto People once in a while. Tonight, my heart was set on seafood, and Riddle & Finns seemed to fit the bill.
Riddle & Finns doesn't take bookings, so we rolled up at 8:30pm to be told there'd be an hour and a half wait. I'm no good at waiting, having many a time given up on Barrafina in Soho, and similar no-booking-policy hot spots. I'm sympathetic to their egalitarian ethos, so perhaps I simply need to re-program my eating hours to suit.
By 10:15pm we were installed on stools at a marble table, not entirely sober might I add (prosecco and beer on an empty stomach). My companion had never tasted oysters, so I convinced her to give them a try, and ordered half a dozen Oysters of the Day, Normandy natives. There's such a snobbery when it comes to the technique for consuming raw oysters - ironic given they were once considered cheap basic foodstuff. Having become a relatively expensive delicacy, all manner of fads and trends are now inflicted upon them. Personally, I like as little done to them as possible, perhaps a squeeze of lemon or a drop of Tabasco, then give them a good chew. My companion's first oyster went down reluctantly (with a grimace) so, with a happy heart, I finished them off.
With a bottle of deliciously fruity Muscadet installed at our table, we proceeded to the main course. I regret not trying one of the Light Bites/Starters, as this appeared to be the most lively and interesting part of the menu, but time wasn't on our side. It was nearing 11pm and the restaurant was starting to empty. My Goan fish curry was delicious. The soft flakes of cod and haddock were sublime, yet I wouldn't say the curry was memorable. The spices were subtle to the point of underwhelming. However, my companion's Smoked haddock fillet with champ, poached egg, prosciutto and a champagne sauce was delectable. Rich egg yolk, smoky fish, and salty ham is a winning combination, and the sauce brought all three together perfectly.
We were sharing our table with a couple who'd come down for the day from London. They were sharing the Fruits de Mer platter with fresh crab, and kindly offered us a taste. The periwinkles (sea snails) needed some coaxing out of their shells, and I can't say the flavour was worth it, but the raw razor clams were fantastic.
Returning the favour, we shared our key lime pie. We ordered one serving, yet all four of us couldn't finish it. It was incredibly sweet, and triumphantly rich. I've posted a photo of it below - jealous?
Make a bee-line for this place next time you find yourself in Brighton. The atmosphere is welcoming, the staff knowledgeable, and food carefully thought out and a pleasure to eat.