First and foremost, thanks for such a warm welcome to the great city of Brighton.

Even in my wildest dreams I didn’t expect this sort of response. Although rumours that a noose is being prepared over the bar at the Kings Arms are a little unnerving, it’s been many years since we had a public hanging.

Undeterred I selected one of the many emails I’ve received and, at the behest of Dave Tivey, set off for The Dorset. Cheers Dave.

The pub looked OK from the outside and the plastic hanging baskets created a nice effect down one side.

But not being one for the outdoor life I dived inside and after a short wait at the bar was served by a bartender in a Hawaiian shirt.

I immediately saw why Brightonians have turned against this local.

They’ve bent over so far backwards to please the tourists that they’re in serious danger of disappearing up their own side passage, complete with its tasteful graffiti.

I asked for the barman’s recommendation but he said he didn’t like beer so I chose a pint of Hophead – a very pleasant, crisp pale golden ale with, if I’m not mistaken, a hint of elderflower.

I’m always suspicious of a barman who doesn’t drink beer and the fact his cap read “rational thinking” didn’t help. I then perused the menu but before I could choose, someone else joined me at the bar and he was served first. In fact, he was asked if he wanted to work.

To which he replied no, but maybe after 4pm.

He disappeared and my order was taken – though I had to steady myself on the bar when I heard a sandwich and a pint cost £14.20.

The guy who didn’t want to work had obviously only come in for his wages as he reappeared with an envelope with notes and coins.

I do like the idea that some places still pay cash in this way.

I sat at table three and took a look around the bar. It’s clearly set up and decorated for tourists and charges accordingly.

I’d ordered a minute steak and assumed it was named after the cooking time, in fact it related to the size of the offering.

Trouble is, by the time I extracted the gristle there really was nothing left of it.

I realised the cost had been even further inflated by an order of tepid fries I didn’t ask for.

I did ask for some ketchup which arrived with an apology as it was the last scraping from the bottle and they didn’t have any more.

Add to this the fact that the bun was over baked and this is the worst, most over-priced sandwich I’ve ever been served.

Before I could complain to the barmen all their attention turned to another member of staff who came in for a free coffee.

Some nachos arrived for the next table which looked marginally more appealing, on the menu at “just” £7.95.

A sign on the mirror claims the Dorset is “Proud to be local, at the heart of North Laine” methinks they protest too much.

There is a suggestion box by the door but I didn’t know where to start, apart perhaps from “stop ripping people off and serve decent food” so I just left my card.

It’s got a big old dining area, complete with photos by Alice Volk priced at £90 each, so I’m sure it makes plenty of cash.

But I have to wonder how many people go to the trouble of returning.

Then, just as I was about to leave, the most interesting part of my visit walked in – an Elvis lookalike with eight inch turn ups on his jeans, carrying a crash helmet.

But sadly even the King was on the coffee so I bid the not-exactly-rude-but-certainly-not-smiley barman farewell before he charged me for anything else.

  • Would you like to share your thoughts on a local pub? I’ll happily publish the best. You can email me at:

The Dorset Bar and Kitchen, North Road, Brighton

Decor: ★★★ (out of five)

Trying to be too trendy for the sake of it

Drink: ★★★★

Hop Head, 3.8 per cent, is a tasty pint

Price: ★★

Hefty at £14.20 for a pint and a sandwich

Atmosphere: ★★

Touristy and lacklustre

Staff: ★★

Nowhere near as bright as his shirt


Minuscule and full of gristle