Formerly the Walmer Castle, The Independent on Queens Park Road opened in June 2015, after undergoing a very smart re-fit.
Turquoise blue is the main featured colour of the bar, which complements the wooden floor and wooden tables and chairs. You could be sitting at home surrounded by your books rather than down the local pub. Smart but comfy.
There are two owners; James Tippett-lles is an experienced landlord who has worked in the hotel business, while band manager Matt Russell is well-known on the local music scene and involved with digital web agency Gingermoon. They have created a stylish local bar, with clean lines, fresh bright colours and great lighting.
Chef Nick Roberts, has worked for Terence Conran in London and at Brighton Rock here is Brighton. His cooking is simple, clean and imaginative; his presentation first class. He teases out flavours from the most basic of produce, a rare gift.
On our visit we started by sharing a Charcuterie board (£11.50) with flint owl bread, caper berries and aioli. An impressive selection of meats, served at the right temperature, slightly moist, a great starter!
For my main course I ordered bubble and squeak topped with a fried egg, grilled tomatoes, with rocket on the side. Some might think a rather old-fashioned choice, but the bubble was excellent, the egg was fried just right, and the rocket was full of flavour as were the grilled tomatoes. The combination of all the elements of the dish gave me one of my best main courses of the year. Simple concept but well executed.
Mrs Ledward went for a much grander option. Rump steak with brandy, peppercorn sauce and hand cut chips (£17), served as ordered, medium rare. The steak was tender and flavoursome, the sauce was not too hot or spicy and the tomatoes on the vine were a nice touch.
Save room for one of Nick’s deserts, they are quite spectacular and deserve special attention.
The chocolate orange pot with confit orange and biscotti (£5.75) was our pudding of choice. Soft chocolate and perfect confit orange, not too sweet, not too tart. Highly recommended.
We also tried the Sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce (£5.95). Extravagant and not one to try if your watching your waistline. We loved it!
If that was not enough we finished with a cheese plate (£11.50) including Brighton Blue, Sussex Charmer, Sussex Brie with chutney and crackers, beautifully presented, breathing to perfection and a great advert for local produce.
The Independent is a free house so they can carry whatever beers they want. Rather than have wine with our meal, we tried a selection of beers including Black Eyed Porter, Lucky Jack and Gun Brewery. The beers change sometimes on a weekly basis so ask advice from the bar staff on what is the new tipple of the day.
The wine list featured a selection of wines from France, Italy, Chile, Argentina, Spain and two sparkling wines from the Ridgeway Estate right here in Sussex.
Prices start from £16 for an Italian red rising to £40 for a bottle of sparkling pink from Ridgeway.
Cocktails are reasonably priced (£7.50-£8), and professionally mixed using premium bands. There is a great selection of sherries to consider along with fine Whiskies, Brandies and a Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon.
We have eaten at the Independent three times now. Sunday lunch was first class with the roast Sussex topside beef option costing just £12.50. If you just want a snack, check out the starter and light menu. All produce is fresh and seasonal which means the menu changes all the time which is a big plus for regular customers.
Parking in Queens Park is £1 an hour till 8pm when it becomes free. Albion Hill and roads to the north are also free but it can be difficult to find a space.
95 Queens Park Road
Brighton, BN2 OGH
Telephone: 01273 602 822
Open: Monday-Thursday 6pm-9.30pm: Friday-Saturday Noon-2.30pm & 6pm-9.30pm: Sunday Noon-7pm
For more information and menu, click here: