Brighton’s talk of the town

Posted on Back of House Sep 2010 - by Tandoori Magazine
Brighton’s talk of the town

Two years after The Chilli Pickle opened it has become the talk of Brighton. Its chef-patron Alun Sperring talks to Tandoori about its success and quality sourcing.

Two years ago, there were some who expressed doubt about the culinary credibility of Chilli Pickle, Brighton’s new Indian kid on the block. However good the intentions, here was an Indian establishment with a non-Indian at the kitchen’s helm and his wife at the front of house. Could he really pull it off?

Well, it’s two years later and the answer is a resounding yes. It’s all down to the hard work and well-sourced ingredients that chef-patron Alun Sperring has rendered as the key to superbly flavoured pan-Indian cooking and the personalised and friendly service given by his wife, Dawn. Hardly any wonder then that the restaurant received two AA rosettes earlier this year.

Despite Chilli Pickle being their first restaurant, Sperring and his wife were, of course, no novices in the food and hospitality industry. Both had worked in the restaurant and hotel sector before, but as Sperring moved further into Europe, they eventually ended up working together in Dubai. After their return to Brighton, they wanted to indulge in their passion for Indian food by launching an Indian restaurant.

It took them 11 months just to find the right site in the Lanes area of the town. One of the things that worked in Sperring’s favour was that he brought over some of the kitchen team he had worked with previously and who could offer a thorough know-how of regional Indian dishes. After a gradual but assured build-up, Chilli Pickle has become a bona- fide hit with customers, thanks to an understated restaurant, quality ingredients and well-matched flavours, executed with flair.

“I think in any restaurant,” says Sperring, “technique and flavour should be paramount. But what I’ve then done is to mix and match different regional influences topped off with seasonal ingredients that are locally sourced where possible.”

Sperring for instance, gets his fish from suppliers in Hastings and Newhaven. Goat meat comes from near Hastings while lamb is from Romney Marsh.

“This type of sourcing, which makes the menu quite transparent,  always gets the customers talking. They give us very positive feedback and say that the ingredients have a freshness about them and that the cooking has a depth of flavour. There is no denying that quality ingredients do cost, but if you work out your margins and have enough customers walking through your door then it’s worth it.”


Sample Dishes - Chilli Pickle

Starters

Yoghurt Vada
soft lentil doughnut soaked in a chilled spicy tempered yoghurt with tamarind & mint chutneys and curry leaf  

Hara Mackerel
local fresh mackerel fillets pan fried in green masala served with a sweet and sour pommelo salad, micro leaves and mango dressing

Mains

Tandoori Red Deer
Perth wild deer in warm spices, with Kashmiri rice, roasted ginger riatta, cherry chutney, curried apples and chilli sauce  

Oxtail Madras
Sussex Oxtail pieces gently braised in a spiced rich gravy served with cumin pilau and spring onion riata   

Duck Egg & Jimbu Curry
Free-range duck eggs in a fresh tomato, ginger and Nepalese mountain herb gravy with millet pancakes and caramelised ginger riatta

Desserts

Falooda

Orange Blossom Chocolate Pot

Banana Kulfi

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