And no, they’re not child-friendly.
When it comes to date night, we’re specifically looking for not child-friendly, and somewhere that’s local but not immediately on our doorstep. Luckily for us, we’re a short drive from Brighton where there are stacks of great date night options.
Here’s a run down of our five favourite non-child-friendly restaurants for date night in Brighton & Sussex.
Flint House is the newest and least child-friendly of the Gingerman Groups restaurants. It’s a brilliant small plates restaurant and the jewel in the crown of the new Hannington’s Lane development. You can’t book, it’s a case of turning up and waiting to be seated. This is great for date night, especially if you’ve got little kids. No panicking to get out of the house on time; no pressure if your babysitter cancels or one of your kids is sick.
If you haven’t been yet (to which I’d say, grab Granny for 7pm and get down there pronto) it’s a British take on the trendy bar / tapas restaurants you find in the nicer parts of Barcelona.
When we went, every little morsel on each small plate was delicious. We didn’t have a single dish that tasted “meh” or we wished we hadn’t bothered with. By the time we’d stuffed our faces with small plates, I wasn’t sure if there was room for pudding. But there was a tiny chocolate, salted caramel, almond one on the menu. And it was perfect with coffee. Well played, Flint House, well played.
The grown-up rhubarb soda is a treat for non-drinkers. Any restaurant with a decent range of soft drinks gets extra points in my book. Even Jay Rayner was a fan when he visited last year. Praise indeed.
There’s an impressive bar with a staggeringly impressive wine and cocktail list. If you’re looking to start with dinner and then head off into town, this is a great place to consider.
Flint House, 13 Hanningtons Lane, Brighton, BN1 1GS
Dishes from £5. Chef’s tasting menu £40 per head, £55 per head with wine pairing
The seating arrangement and compact dining spaces will ensure that no buggies or small people will cross the threshold of either Cin Cin restaurant. And that’s perfect.
Cin Cin is such a treat. Well, both of them are. There’s one in Hove, which is ever-so-slightly bigger, serving dishes cooked on a grill in addition to handmade pastas and seasonal dishes; the tiny Vine Street restaurant is super cosy and intimate serving antipasti, small plates and handmade pasta from the bijou open kitchen at the counter. The ingredients are always fresh and seasonal. The dishes change frequently and although it’s not on the menu at the moment, I have fond memories of a droolworthy truffle arancino.
Both restaurants are incredibly romantic. You’d be hard pressed to find a nicer adult-only Italian date night option in Sussex.
Cin Cin, 13-16 Vine Street, Brighton, BN1 4AG & 60 Western Road, Hove, BN3 1JD
Starters from £8, Mains from £13 and puds from £7
etch. is without doubt one of the finest choices for date night. Even if you have to travel from afar. The tasting menu is epic. And delicious. And the service is faultless. A seamless experience from start to finish.
The menu, designed by multi award-winning chef Steven Edwards changes every month and uses lots of fresh, local ingredients.
The restaurant is grown-up and chic. There’s an excellent sommelier and choice of wines. If you’re not drinking, I highly recommend the soda flight.
It’s not a cheap night out but if you’re looking for several hours of beautiful food, being waited on like royalty in gorgeous surroundings it’s worth the extra £s.
etch. by Steven Edwards, 216 Church Road, Hove, BN3 2DJ
5 courses Wed & Thurs from £60, 9 courses Fri & Sat – from £80
Another one of our all-time favourite date night restaurants in Brighton. Isaac At is brilliant: compact, which means you can hear each other; and chilled, so you don’t feel like you’re sitting on ceremony.
The tasting menu at Isaac At is focused solely on local produce from Sussex. And I think that’s to be heartily applauded. I don’t know of any other restaurants with such dedication to our local producers.
There’s a super-friendly vibe. It’s laid-back without being casual. The food is imaginative and exquisitely beautiful to look at and eat. The staff know their stuff, whether it’s the origins of the ingredients or the perfect wine to pair with your dish.
Watch what’s going on in the kitchen on the screens in the dining room. Or, maybe, y’know chat to each other.
Isaac At, 2 Gloucester Street, Brighton BN1 4EW
Pre-Theatre 3 course menu 35; 4 course tasting menu £40; 7 course tasting menu £60
Heritage by Matt Gillan
We haven’t been for a date night per se. But I couldn’t make this guide without featuring Heritage. We had the pleasure of going to 365 Magazine’s Exclusive Dining Event last year, where Matt Gillan presented dishes from his tasting menu alongside champagnes produced by family-owned Champagne G. Tribaut.
Each dish on the tasting menu was perfection. We can’t wait to go back soon. Just the two of us.
And Matt’s recently opened five brand new bedrooms above the restaurant making this an excellent spot for some proper uninterrupted parent on parent time. You’ll even get a child-free lie in and slap-up breakfast in the morning. Now that’s what I call a date night.
Heritage, Park Rd, Slaugham, Haywards Heath, RH17 6AQ
5 courses £45, 7 courses £65, 9 courses £75; rooms from £255 per night