AT THE turn of the 19th century, Dr William Kitchiner, inventor of telescopes, amateur musician and exceptional cook, penned The Cook’s Oracle.

In the landmark cookery book, he encouraged readers to “peel large potatoes... cut them in shavings round and round, as you would peel a lemon; dry them well in a clean cloth and fry them in lard or dripping.”

Hence, the humble crisp was born. And for nearly 200 years his deep fried creation has remained the perfect snack for any outing to the pub.

Until now that is. Enter: the oxtail nugget.

It’s remarkable to think that something so tasty in death can spend so much time in life straddled across a cow’s backside.

But in the deft hands of this week’s chefs, oxtails – and beer snacks in general – are without a doubt the stars of the show.

Brighton’s pub kitchens aren’t shy of a little innovation. The Little Blue Smokehouse at Seven Stars, in Ship Street, The Orange Buffalo at The Joker, Preston Circus, and La Choza’s second home at The Hare and Hounds, also Preston Circus, are just some of the establishments sticking it to the tired old Sunday roast.

And the Dizzy Gull kitchen at the Brighton Beer Dispensary in Dean Street is up there with the stars of the new pub grub game.

Opened in October 2016, it’s headed up by the same team as fine dining operation The Set, in nearby Regency Square.

Brighton Beer Dispensary, formerly The Prince Arthur, is part of the Southey Brewing company and stocks dozens of drinks ranging from IPAs to porters, pale ales to bitters.

During The Gourmand’s visit the bar staff were exceptionally accommodating, liberally pouring samples to help navigate the lengthy list.

The food menu meanwhile is divided into bar snacks and larger plates, as well as roast options on Sundays. The whole thing is a Slimming World nightmare – a deep fried extravaganza which skips from KFC rabbit, to battered cod hot dogs and Marmite benedict.

The aforementioned oxtail nuggets open the show and my, what an opening. Crispy, light shells give way to the most succulent, butter-soft meat. It pairs perfectly with the vegetable hum of mushroom ketchup.

Next up are the beerkins, long slender strips of gherkin in a golden beer batter casing. They are a little treacherous to eat –greedy people beware, the liquid of the gherkins are like lava.

But with a bit of patience and a liberal dunk in the tangy mustard mayo, you’d be hard pressed to find a more perfect bar snack.

The chicken wings, lathered in a toxic orange chilli and ginger sauce, have just the right amount of warmth to marry up with a cooling lime and buttermilk dressing.

And we could have stopped there. Or better yet ploughed on, working our way through the rest of the bar snack menu in a shameful, gluttonous tapas project. But on to the mains –and this where things went a little astray.

The beer braised beef cheek was too chewy – a knife was produced at one point.

There’s a kick of heat from the vindaloo mash and the sweet tang of a pineapple chutney. But the whole thing lacked any texture – the sort of dish you would feed a denture-wearing grandparent.

The alluringly named pig kebab was nearly a winner. An itinerary of piggy bits showed promise. Pork belly – check. Crispy crackling – plentiful. Lashing of apple ketchup and mustard mayo – most definitely. But the addition of pig fat – long sashimi-like, chewy strips of the stuff – was all wrong.

And sadly pudding couldn’t save the day either. There were just two options on the menu during our visit, a peanut butter truffle and rhubarb crumble.

At £6 a pop the small bowl that arrives is more expensive than the bar snacks and not nearly as satisfying.

The rhubarb compote is pleasantly zingy, but the gentle sprinkling of oats and nuts has none of the sticky, oedipal joy of a good crumble.

So by no means the perfect meal. The main plates had errors and the puddings failed to pack a punch.

Mind you, if there is a pub in Brighton and Hove selling better bar snacks then the Gourmand would love to know about it.

  • The Gourmand pays for all his meals.


Food: ★★★

Service: ★★★★★

Atmosphere: ★★★★


Oxtail nuggets, mushroom ketchup: £4

Beerkins, mustard mayo: £4

Chilli and ginger chicken wings, lime and buttermilk dressing: £6


Beer braised beef cheek, vindaloo mash, pineapple chutney, vindaloo gravy, cucumber yoghurt: £9

Pig kebab, pork belly, crackling, pig fat, kimchi, mustard mayo and apple ketchup: £8


Rhubarb crumble, rhubarb compote, nut and oat crumble white chocolate custard: £6