There are so many restaurants in Brighton, mostly with the same 'for-educated-foodies-but-not-fine-dining' aim, that it is difficult to decide which to try next, and a gamble that your chosen venue will achieve its aim. Here is one to try that you might miss, without a recommendation: Pomegranate, in Kemptown. It's in a side street (Manchester St), just near Harry Ramsden's on the sea front, and it's not only good, but interesting and exciting, too.
For starters, the very fresh garlic chilli prawns were juicy, perfectly cooked and genuinely very spicy and garlicky indeed. They were covered in chili oil and coriander in oil, richly seasoned, and served on top of a light flatbread. The flatbread soaked up the absolutely delicious oil and juices. Yesss! It was that elusive find; a chef who is not afraid of serving plenty of flavour or oil. My companion was so impressed, that he ordered a second plate of the spicy prawn dish to go with his main course.
Prawns with garlic and hot pepper
Next up was lamb kebabs for me, lamb chops for him. The kebab dish was one of the nicest things I've ever had in my mouth; plate-sized, puffy, soft flatbread, with chunks of tender griddled lamb, Pomegranate's 'special butter-yogurt sauce', HOT and fragrant chili oil in a pot, beautifully roasted Mediterranean vegetables, delicate salad (lovely, not-too-sweet honey dressing), and this buttery, salty erm.. stuff all over the bread and soaked into a little mound of rice. I would normally leave all the rice with a carby dish like this, but the butter sauce was so unbelievably delicious, that I had to keep going. I didn't want this dining experience to end, anyway. Plus, I kept having sneaky tastes of the prawns again, and then having to finish once more on the butter.
The generous portion of char-grilled chops came with a mellow lemon and oregano oil, dainty salads and rice. Both massive platefuls were big on presentation, but the portions were not over-sized - just generous and presented with a bit of refined and pretty drama.
Everything was so goddamn tasty, running with flavour and mouthwatering juices, and perfectly balanced in every direction. All the dishes were clearly cooked to order, and everything was certainly made from scratch on the unassuming premises. I really wish I'd had room to taste the delightful-sounding stuffed figs, but hopefully another time. Even though I'm usually on a mission to keep trying new places, this is one place I have to go back to - my mouth waters at the thought.
The prawns were £6.50, the main courses about £12 - amazing value, considering the thought, skill, ingredients and effort that had gone into the food here, compared to other similarly-priced restaurants. I've just seen from Pomegranate's website (www.eatpomegranates.com), that their ingredients are organic, and the chef (Hassan) is also the joint owner, which all helps.
The waitress (is that the owner/chef's partner, Zelal?) was friendly, attentive and discreet. The timing between courses was ideal. (UPDATE: That wasn't Zelal - we met her the next time we ate here, when she was our waitress - highly professional with a sparkling sense of humour.)
I'm utterly chuffed to have found this eating option! Thank-you, Pomegranate, for a special meal.