AS A LAPSED Catholic, I have a confession to make. I have visited The Wick Inn near Palmeira Square on two previous occasions at lunchtime and it was uniformly excellent.

Therefore, as PubSpy, it was time to try it out in the evening to see how it measured up. Sadly, things did not get off to a good start.

Upon entering The Wick with a friend, our ears were assailed by Norman Greenbaum’s rendition of Spirit in the Sky (or it could have been Dr and the Medics’ cover version) played at deafening volume. Great song admittedly, but you had to shout at the bar staff to make yourself heard, which was not ideal.

We had booked a table for 8.30 and having finally managed to make ourselves heard, we were told to head upstairs where our reserved table awaited. Except it didn’t. There were no bar staff on duty upstairs and we stood about for at least five minutes until the chef emerged to tell us to head back downstairs again to order our drinks and food from the extensive Thai menu.

Having complained that there was no sign our booked table had been reserved, we were told we “could sit anywhere” upstairs and, fortunately, there were a few tables to choose from.

A drink first up then, and it was a large rose for me (£7.10, gulp) and a coke with ice and lemon for my dining companion. To be fair, at that point our server did apologise for the initial confusion and at least I was able to hear her as the volume of the music had been turned down to a more bearable level.

My friend was delighted to see that one of her favourites, chicken chow mein (fried noodles), vegetables and sweet chilli sauce (£8.95) was available, while I opted for exotically-named Jungle Curry (£7.95) which came with beef, broccoli, peppers and a spicy sauce. We also had egg fried rice (£2.50) as an extra.

The food was delivered to our table by the chef herself and it was as good as ever, so three cheers for her, it was absolutely lovely.

The Wick clearly revels in presenting itself as a “traditional” pub with wooden floors and a semi-circular bar downstairs plus a jukebox which, when played at a reasonable volume, is a nice touch.

Upstairs it was cosy without being cramped and, being midweek, it was not too busy. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t want to have had “a few too many” when tackling the stairs which are a little tricky when carrying two drinks upstairs from the bar.

There were four couples upstairs, all of whom were overheard saying how good the food is, with one man, relaxing with glass of wine in hand, describing it as the best pub in the city to his companion, who nodded enthusiastically in agreement.

I wouldn’t go that far because there is plenty of competition in Brighton and Hove but, having said that, I like The Wick although the initial problems meant it did not match our previous experiences there.

It may be a small gripe, but if you take the trouble to phone up mid-afternoon and book a table for that evening, then I expect to see a “reserved” sign on it.

Fortunately for us there was a large pine table available with a comfortable bench on one side and equally comfy chairs opposite. But what if there had been a sudden influx of diners before our scheduled arrival? It could have been a much more frustrating experience had that been the case.

Post dinner it was time to enjoy another glass of rose and a double gin and tonic (a reasonable £5) for my friend before heading for the exit. The Wick is certainly in a prime position in Hove and looks alluring as you approach with its deep green painted exterior. The old-style lighting inside is also attractive and it was also pleasing to see two wheelchair users enjoying a meal on the ground floor, although gaining access looks a little tricky.


The Wick Inn

63 Western Road, Hove

Decor: ****

If you like traditional pubs this fits the bill perfectly.

Drink: ****

Plenty on offer. An impressive array of whisky, gin, beer and wine too.

Price: ***

Wine expensive, double gin and tonic cheap.

Atmosphere ****

Enjoyable once the music was turned down.

Staff ***

After initial problem, a welcome apology and friendly service.