IT WAS early evening when my not so insubstantial belly began to kick up Chewbacca-esque rumblings, letting me know it was time for food.

Fortunately, having just enjoyed a saunter down Brighton Palace Pier with Mrs PubSpy, I spied The Charles Street Tap across the road and made a beeline for the imposing pub.

Upon entering, we were greeted by an array of rainbow flag wall hangings, a blackboard that boldly stated “live sport NOT shown here” and a large chequered wall hanging in one corner that was covered in glittering reptiles.

According to the barman it was a prop for a game night called “snakes and knackers”.

Toto, I don’t think we’re in ’Spoons any more.

Looking around, the pub was about half full, an impressive feat given the characteristically sleepy time of day.

Curiously, one of these groups was sitting swamped in a sea of bright blue helium-filled balloons which floated at head height.

Each to their own I suppose.

Mrs PubSpy and I took a seat at one of the pub’s booths.

Table nine and three quarters, complete with a small drawing of a lightning bolt on the menu holder.

Stomachs now rumbling at an alarming rate, we immediately reached for the food menu.

It listed a generous plethora of pub classics, pizzas, burgers and more, including an eye-catching little number called the Ultimate Burger – a meaty tower containing a stack of beef, buttermilk chicken, barbecue pulled pork, barbecue burnt ends, mushrooms and onion rings.

My decision was made.

I headed to the bar to order and cast an eye over the impressive selection of spirits intricately stacked behind some colourful bunting.

To help wash down the carb-heavy dish I had just committed to I ordered a couple pint of pints of a Sussex Pride – complete with a rainbow-adorned tap – for the two of us.

The pint was a bit lively and took a fair while to settle in the glass, arriving with more of a frothy top than was customary.

But the taste of the American pale ale could not be faulted.

Full of mouth-filling flavour and boasting a smooth texture more like honey than ale, I soon found myself eyeballing the bottom of my empty glass.

Then the food arrived.

The waiter looked visibly strained as he hoiked over two weighty wooden boards topped with our towering burgers.

I usually take exception when food is served on anything but a plate, a tool designed specifically for the purpose of hosting a meal, but I bit my tongue and held my criticisms.

I was certainly not disappointed by the size of the meal, and then I took a bite.

This is not a moment I will forget in a hurry.

I had worried that, like Manchester United teams of late, the burger boasted too many star players to work as a unit.

But oh how wrong I was.

The crispy fried chicken and barbecue pulled pork perfectly complemented the thick beef patty, all topped with the tang of the onion rings.

The ingredients worked together in perfect harmony, dancing a euphoric symphony across my taste buds.

Indeed, the food was so joyous that Mrs PubSpy said she “couldn’t help” but bounce her shoulders along to the infectious pop song that soundtracked our meal.

The chips were all right as well.

Suffice to say, my stomach stopped its growling after this hefty treat.

I sat back and grew conscious of my need to invest in some trousers with a slightly bigger waist.

First, however, I headed to the toilets.

These must have been some of the largest toilets I have seen in a pub and certainly not what I was used to.

The services were a maze of wooden boarded rooms which twisted and turned for quite some time before I was able to locate a urinal.

They were very clean, but it took me an embarrassingly long time to get my bearings.

By the time I made it back to the table I was mere moments away from befriending a beach ball and calling it Wilson.

We left content, impressed and considerably heavier than we arrived.

Charles Street Tap

Marine Parade


Decor: three stars

Certainly not dull, plenty of rainbows.

Drink: five stars

Good range of ales and ciders and impeccable flavour.

Price: four stars

Two substantial meals with drinks for less than £30.

Atmosphere: four stars

Relaxed and gently bustling. I would be intrigued to see it on a Saturday night.

Staff: three stars

All smiles and very friendly, but the pour was poor.