Gemma Windham took Julia Maltby along to GB1 to initiate her in the wonders of the fruits of the sea…
When dining in Brighton, one feels like the natural choice should be fish or seafood. It is, after all, right next to the sea, but eating out and choosing fish can so often be a disappointment. Instead of exploring beautiful fishy flavours, or towers of the freshest seafood like what you see in France, you get battered everything, or stuff from the freezer. But despair no more! Step forward the Grand Hotel’s utterly fabulous GB1 restaurant to save the day.
I went with Julia who despite adoring fish and seafood had never been to GB1. When I asked her why, she said firstly she’d had this idea it might be tiny portions of ‘gourmet food’ and secondly, that it might perhaps be expensive.
Regulars to this glorious gastro hangout will know different, but for those of you who don’t, let me put your mind at rest. The portions at GB1 are sturdy, and filling. And the food – for the consistently excellent standard – is ridiculously good value for money.
Let me explain…
Starter – Scotch eggs (£7)
Soft poached quail’s eggs with smoked haddock kedgeree and curried mayonnaise which were beautiful. Dainty softly centred eggs with lovely moist fishy rice wrapped around them – really delish. I probably shouldn’t have ‘enjoyed’ so much of the sourdough bread while we were chatting though (I blame the infused oil our waitress recommended) but hey.
Main – Filleted Whole Seabass from the specials menu (£15)
I don’t often order fish but I figured you can’t visit a seafood restaurant and not, so I did and I didn’t regret it. This was served with pineapple sauce, tortilla crumble and a green salad and was delicious. The fish was beautifully cooked with just a hint of pineapple, which wasn’t too sweet, and the crunchy topping gave it a nice texture.
Dessert – Somehow I managed to find space! I had Polenta (£7.50)
…which was a taster of mini desserts (somehow they feel less naughty) including Orange polenta cake, white chocolate, peanut brittle and my favourite, poached apricots with cherry gelato.
Starter – Crab (£12.50) – Pictured above
South coast crab meat with crème fraiche, lime and black pepper, aioli and toasted sour dough. “The toast was the thinnest I have ever seen and went so well with each element of the dish,” she said. “It had a very generous helping of both white and brown crab meat and the mayonnaise was perfect accompaniment.”
Main – Whole grilled plaice (£15) with chunky chips and samphire with bacon (£4 each).
Julia loved the idea of super fresh, locally-caught fish, so chose the plaice with some sides. “The plaice was perfectly and simply cooked with a selection of mixed clams and mussels in white wine sauce dish, served separately. This wasn’t described on the menu so it was a lovely surprise. The home-made tartare sauce I was offered with my chunky chips was also excellent.”
Dessert – Matcha tea (£7)
Panna cotta with chocolate frangipane cake, pistachio nuts, raspberry powder and crème pâtissière. This was a highlight for Julia who enjoyed the flavour and light consistency. We’d both ummed and erred about ordering dessert as we were already comfortably full but we decided it was our responsibility to at least try and we did both manage to find enough ‘pudding space’ to finish.
This restaurant is one of my personal favourites. The service is always impeccable and this visit was no exception. The team were extremely attentive; our waitress took the time to go through the wine options with Julia and when the food arrived, although it was brought by someone else, they knew which dish to place where, and it’s the small things like this that make the big difference to me. If you’re not a fan of seafood, there are plenty of other options available including vegetarian and vegan, and some meaty affairs.
And as for Julia – I think we can safely say she’ll be back. Cheers!
The Grand Brighton
Kings Rd, Brighton BN1 2FW