Senor Buddha comes of age

Sam Harrington-Lowe went along to try out the five course fish menu at the Buddha’s Fish Thursday night

Arroz Negre and Octopus

Here at Title we’ve had a long-standing relationship with Senor Buddha, making visits to eat the crazy fusion tapas from the early days of the popups around Brighton and Hove, through to the culmination of the permanent base in Preston Circus. It’s been exciting to watch Lee and his team grow the brand and make a new food concept take off.

With all good things, like wine and women, it’s got better with age. The food has always been well designed and executed, and I’ve always liked it because it’s pushed the boundaries a bit.

Who the hell combines the taste of the Orient with Spanish tapas? It’s part madness, part genius. It’s been an interesting journey and along the way some very happy merging of food cultures to create unusual dishes, and a lot of full tummies.

Owner Lee Shipley, head chef John Reed and assistant manager Cristina Garcia Viera

Owner Lee Shipley, head chef John Reed and assistant manager Cristina Garcia Viera

So when Lee invited us down to try out the Fish Thursday experience – which is a five course menu full of (no prizes here) fishy delights, we didn’t hang about – I took my mate Julie Graham and we perched up at the bar counter.

This is a night that runs every third Thursday of the month and booking is essential, be warned. There’s two sittings and when we went the place was rammed for both.

The menu at this fishy special demonstrates a new level of finesse that puts this friendly eatery in a new bracket entirely. The food has always been good, in a roaring Spanish kind of way – big flavours, small dishes, exciting combinations… and the fish menu isn’t really any different in that sense – it’s got some real kapow in places. But the quality and depth has risen to a new level of sophistication.

The Bloody Oyster shot is literally a tiny Bloody Mary type tomato shot with an oyster waiting in the bottom – down in one! A zingy hit, light on the vodka. It’s a great way to start.

Bloody oyster shots

Bloody oyster shots

The trio of cured fish was perhaps my favourite bit. (A word to the wise here – go easy on the bread, there is a lot of food coming your way). The chilli, ginger and gin cured salmon was an explosion of tastes in a world of its own, and the lime cured plaice, cooked only by the acid in the citrus, was a fresh wham of fishy, limey lightness on the palate. I could have eaten this thrice.

Have to admit, was a bit nervous about the pineappley affair coming up as I’m not really in the ‘fruit with shellfish’ gang but it was a marvellous surprise.

A griddled, warm slice of fresh pineapple topped with lobster, prawns, crab etc – you name it, it was on top, and it was so fresh I looked for a tank in the kitchen. One of those slightly mad combinations Senor Buddha is famous for, and pulled off with aplomb.

Already feeling fairly full, the next dish was sticky rice, unguent and black with squid ink, and clearly cooked in a great fish stock, and a rope of crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside octopus – utter heaven.

Crispy seaweed cod and seafood bisque

Crispy seaweed cod and seafood bisque

And this was followed by the final fish dish – a stunningly executed cod in a seafood bisque that really deserves to be eaten all on its own. The cod was just the white side of translucent, and the bisque created with a real depth and sophistication, and again, a very decent stock at the base. A showstopper of a bisque. And yes I do believe good bisque can stop a show.

Pudding, if you have room, was a delightful deconstructed key lime pie with a smoosh of sticky, citrusy goo and crispy crunch on the side. A great palate cleanser to end on. I did manage to get some in, and was glad I’d been cautious with the bread.


Julie and Sam

There was excellent wine with every course but we drank so much of it, I can’t remember what it was. I do have photos if anyone wants to know, but the wine list changes regularly so just work that out when you get there.

As I said, it books up early so get in quick. Can’t recommend it enough. Senor Buddha reaches new heights with this – it’s a great night out, with loads of chat and banter round the restaurant too. I always love sitting up at the counter and making new friends there. All in all this little place is a complete gem, and this menu just smacks it into orbit.

Fish Thursdays @ Senor Buddha
9 Preston Road



Fish menu Thursday date
Bloody Oyster Shot

Trio of cured fish…
Chilli, ginger & gin salmon
Sesame seared tuna
Lime plaice
Seafood salad & grilled pineapple
Arròz negre & octopus
Crispy seaweed cod & seafood bisque

Coconut Key lime pie

About Sam Harrington-Lowe
As the managing editor Sam is responsible for all the Title publications and works diligently to develop the brand and support relationships with all partners and clients. She runs things with her dedicated PA Ms Alice Pickle Pug