A Long Love Affair
There are four Ginger Restaurants across Brighton, Hove and Hassocks. The first opened over 20 years’ ago now. They’re a classic must for anyone living in or visiting Sussex. We’ve been frequent diners at all 4 over the past 12, maybe even 13 years. We got engaged in the Gingerman in 2009; I private hired The Ginger Dog for my 30th; we’ve had countless date nights and lunches and birthday dinners and anniversary celebrations and last-supper-before-baby-arrives (both times) and big family gatherings and ad hoc meals just because. They’re our go to for when we fancy something a bit nicer than your average lunch or dinner. And we make a lot of excuses to go. You get the picture. We’re fans. Big fans.
Eating out in Brighton has changed a lot in the last 10 years. There are so many great restaurants now, but this wasn’t always the case. In 2006, when I met my other half, there were about 5 restaurants worth bothering with: Pintxo People (remember!?); the Chilli Pickle (although it was much smaller then); Terre A Terre; Moshi Moshi; and for really special occasions The Gingerman. And when we moved to Hurstpierpoint, I’d be lying if I told you that having a Ginger gastro pub, The Ginger Fox, 5 minutes down the road didn’t factor in our choice of Sussex nesting spot.
So, you can imagine my delight when I was given a handful of Gingerman Restaurant vouchers for Christmas and my Birthday back in December. Oh the dinners I’ll have in 2019. Oinky oink.
Excitement All Round
We’ve had a strange start to the year, so a couple of weeks ago I decided to throw caution to the wind and book an end of half term Sunday lunch. I hoped it would be sunny because the garden’s nice for the kids to romp around if the weather’s ok.
The big one was even more excited because she loooooooves the food. Her first taste of Ginger Fox was aged 6 months when we took her for a Christmas Eve dinner and the chef whipped her up the most delicious cauliflower cheese purée and beautifully piped it into an espresso cup. The purée was lapped up by a very happy babe in arms. And when I say it was delicious, I’d have been happy with a pint of the purée for my dinner…
The staff are great with kids. The children’s menu has lots of what I consider proper food rather than greige kid food. Colouring is standard. And there’s play equipment in the garden. Needless to say, it’s family-friendly. All of the Gingers are but this is definitely the most child-friendly because of the garden.
Crayons as standard, menu to colour in, climbing frame in the garden. These guys know kids! 100% family-friendly.
Family-Friendly All The Way
We arrived at lunchtime, some more hungry than others, delighted that there were plenty of free tables to choose from outside near the climbing frame. As soon as we sat down, the girls were off clambering over the climbing frame leaving us to mull over various matters du jour.
There were lots of other kids around, we were in good parental company in our spot by the climbing frame. Other children is always a good sign of a family-friendly restaurant. I instantly feel much more relaxed if there are other families around because They Know. Just in case one of the little darlings kicks off.
To keep the hanger at bay, we ordered a bread board to share as a collective starter. Four thick slices of homemade bread were served with butter, tapenade and a dish of olive oil swirled with balsamic. The bread et al was lapped up pretty swiftly. The little pot of tapenade was so delicious that it became the subject of a brutal sibling battle, where everyone wanted the last scraping. With the bread devoured and battle over the girls were off to play again.
The main event came shortly after the bread board. We had roast lamb and pork belly; the girls had roast beef and pork belly from the kids’ menu. The roasts are exceptionally good. And huge. They come served with all the trimmings: buttery, herby carrots, perfectly cooked shredded savoy cabbage, crisp roast potatoes, a rich cheesy celeriac side which the kids ate with wild abandon, stuffing, apple purée and pork gravy with the pork, a ginormous Yorkshire pudding on the beef and a rich red wine gravy on both the beef and lamb. We were offered extra side sauces, The Husband had mint sauce; us girls were happy to just get stuck in without. We destroyed our roasts. I’m usually pretty overwhelmed by huge plates of food but everything was so scrummy that it was soon in my belly (give or take a couple of roasties). The girls managed about half each of their portions which was really good going because the kids roasts are massive. In fact, this is one of my only small criticisms about the kids food at The Fox. For younger children, they could definitely get away with making the portions less overwhelming.
Roast pork belly (grown-up sized) with trimmings for days.
A little while later and after some more running around, we ordered pudding (it’s traditional; like Christmas. I’ll always forego starter for pudding with a Sunday roast. And I’ll always make space for pudding after a roast. Always.). The girls had ice cream cones with homemade ice cream – perfect size for little hands and portable too; I had sticky toffee pudding with ice cream; and the other half had the pear and apple crumble (it’s not dairy-free but he decided to take stomachache over sorbet). The puddings were divine. The big one helped me out with my sticky toffee pudding. The sauce was just delightfully unctuous and the candied pecans added a lovely crunch to an otherwise soft and gooey plate of melty-yumness. The ice cream cones soon disappeared and The Husband polished off the crumble. To be honest, I was enjoying my pudding so much I didn’t bother to ask if he was enjoying his. He says it was nice if you like a buttery crumble (I think he’s sorely regretting letting his pudding hunger get in the way of his dairy allergy).
We left without coffee, full and happy, and only because Sunday chores and home work beckoned.
They have a really impressive drinks menu, with lots of cocktails, a vast and carefully chosen wine list, including several magnums of champagne and local award-winning Ridgeview Estate wines. They stock loads and loads and loads of spirits including local Brighton Gin. There are local draft ales and cider on tap and stacks of soft drinks. Plus all the usual coffees and teas for afters.
It’s not a cheap Sunday lunch but you get a really delicious roast that’s good value for money. The garden is lovely for kids but it’s not as big as some of the other pub gardens we go to locally with ours. What I’m saying is, there’s not as much to keep them entertained; you may be pestered a bit more. But coming to the Fox isn’t about the play equipment, it’s about the food and the main thing is that there’s something for everyone. When I spoke about the sweet spot in my very first blog, The Fox is the sweet spot. The something for everyone.
The children’s menu is £10 for a roast, ice-cream and drink. Roast dinners for adults are around £16; puddings £8/£8.50. We had a big bottle of sparkling water and I had a homemade elderflower pressé to drink. Service is charged at 10%, which is pretty standard for this type of restaurant; the service was fab, so I’d have left that anyway. Our bill came to £85, so I’ve got change from my voucher. All in all, I think this is more than fair for 4 people and such a high standard of lunch in such nice surroundings.
I mean, it’s without question that we’ll be back. This is the Ginger on our patch. We just need to think of a reason to book up again to use the rest of that voucher.
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