Petit Pois Brighton Absolute Reviews
A delightful charming and elegant French eatery sits just a stone’s throw away from the sea, with an accessible contemporary menu and extensive wine list to boot. I could probably count on one hand the amount of French restaurants there are in amongst the incredibly vibrant and cosmopolitan Brighton foodie scene. I have frequented a few in my time and whilst there are certainly some truly exceptional offerings available, I have yet to come across a true French bistro experience in our wonderful town. That was until I came across Petit Pois, a small family run restaurant on Ship Street, which finally ticks all the right boxes, with incredible authentic French cooking, divine wines, and delightful friendly service in a lovely intimate setting.
Arriving on a wet and miserable Monday evening, we were entranced by the warm and inviting glow emanating from windows of this beautiful little space. We were expecting the restaurant to be completely empty, having passed by a number of establishments that were either closed, or lacking in custom.
Not the case with Petit Pois, however. This rustic cosy restaurant was buzzing and full of happy content diners conversing over some quite delicious looking plates of food. Tantalising scents of garlic, herb and truffle wafting from the kitchen, a magnificent colossal blackboard listing mouth-watering charcuterie and decadent les fromages, and a huge leg of ham adorning the kitchen counter all immediately invoke an unrelenting pang of hunger. It had me eagerly looking round the room at what the other patrons were eating for inspiration, and of course so as not to overlook something from the menu.
Our waitress must have seen us drooling as they were quick to appear with menus and a wine list. The easy to navigate and well thought out menu is split into nibbles, les Assiettes (sharing plates), fish, meat and vegetable dishes, with a selection of tempting sounding sides and a notably robust children’s menu to suit both the fussiest or more audacious little eaters.
My dining companion, a recently converted vegetarian trying her very best to stick to her guns, was both impressed and surprised by the wealth of options available to her, plumping for goats cheese croquettes along with some Olives de Provence from the nibbles section to start and wild mushroom ravioli as a main. I was pleased to see the renowned French delicacies, snails and frogs legs were both listed as nibbles. Having never tried the latter due to my younger self being much less gastronomically adventurous on my last trip to France, and not having come across them since, there was simply no other option than to order them as a starter, opting for pork-belly as a main, with frites and mixed greens to share as sides.
The extensive wine menu lists a fine selection of tipples from across France and our waitress was happy to help my companion with a white wine pairing to suit, bringing over tasters of Gros Manseng-Sauvignon from South West France and a Loire Muscadet to help her make up her mind. I decided to at least look a bit more knowledgeable on the subject and confidently ordered a glass of Loire Gamay to go with my meatier food options. Both our choices turned out to be a splendid accompaniment to our meals.
The incredible rich and powerful smells associated with French cuisine continued to make us salivate, but thankfully it was not long before our generously portioned “nibbles” arrived. My companion’s croquettes were light, crisp and fluffy and positively bursting with flavour, and I have completely fallen in love with frogs legs. I have heard people say they taste like chicken, but I would argue these delicate morsels have a unique full flavour and velvety texture which is incomparable to anything I have tried before.
They were encased in a fairly strong tasting garlic and herb crisp breadcrumb batter which was mellowed by the accompanying creamy slaw, which surprisingly further heightened the flavour of the meat rather than mask it. On to our mains which were again sizeable, so we began to wonder if we had made a mistake ordering two sides. However, we devoured the lot, thoroughly enjoying every last morsel, even leaving room for dessert! My companion’s melt in your mouth Raviolo oozed bold earthy flavours with hearty butternut squash, spinach and wild mushrooms all playing their part. Add a little mild Comte cheese and a touch of truffle oil to the party and you have an exceedingly rich yet well rounded dish. I could not resist dunking frites into the last droplets of sauce left in her bowl when she had finished.
My pork-belly was a perfectly cooked moist chunk of meat topped with a lovely crisp crackling. It was served with a not too garlicky roast potato mash, burrowed out to hold a puddle of sumptuous red-wine jus that had a full flavour that stays with you, red cabbage and a cheeky tender plump and juicy tiger-prawn poking his little head out of the mash for effect. Every bit of this dish was a delight and made me wonder what their Sunday roasts are like, making a mental note to book ourselves in to try them out. Our sides of frites and mixed greens were fine additions to the meal. The frites came with a lovely creamy béarnaise sauce, and were great for mopping up, the greens were crisp, fresh and absolutely drenched in an ever-so French garlic and parsley butter with sautéed shallots. Magnifique!
For dessert, my companion enjoyed a trio of creme brulees with madeleines. Each light creamy bowl revealed delightful ever-so subtle varying flavours such as apple cinnamon and vanilla which were great fun working out which was which after the workout our tastebuds had already been through, though each one delightful. My decadent oozing hot chocolate fondant, so unapologetically and sublimely rich and gooey was incredible and the silky pistachio ice cream was soothingly complimenting, with a scattering of pistachio flakes adding a touch of je ne sais quoi!
We thoroughly enjoyed everything about our dining experience at Petit Pois. So much so we immediately booked to come again. The service we received was impeccable and the lovely warm and cosy atmosphere of this charming restaurant made us not want to leave! The incredible flavours we experienced made us want to return and try everything on the menu. The chef here truly has a talent for contemporary French cuisine. The menu itself is very reasonably priced, but for anyone on a budget they have a set menu Monday to Friday 12-7pm offering two plates for £11, and three for £16, which is incredible value, and still has a massive variety of choice. For a truly delicious contemporary French dining experience, you really do not need to look any further than Petit Pois.
70 Ship Street, Brighton, BN1 1AE. 01273 911211