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For fans of seafood, a trip to Riddle and Finns is like worshipping at the altar of culinary genius.
What is it like?
Smart understated decor with a flavour of sparklingly clean old-fashioned fishmonger's mixed with subtle Art Deco glamour, Riddle and Finns feels immediately welcoming. The bustle of The Lanes just outside give a pleasant, busy atmosphere despite being fairly quiet when I visited. There's also a street counter where you can order food and see the chefs at work in the kitchen, perfect for a bit of culinary theatre.
The food, including the seafood, is predominantly sourced from the local area, as is some of the wine, and the menu changes seasonally, so there's always something new to tempt you in.
The staff members are knowledgeable about the menu, comfortable with making recommendations and very friendly. Following a recommendation, I opted for a glass of Court Garden sparkling wine made locally at an East Sussex vineyard (I had a second glass, and then Googled where to buy it when I got home later) and ordered a selection of seafood to share.
The sea bream ceviche was a triumph; moist, succulent, tangy and moreish, perfectly complimented by the crunchy lettuce 'boats'. The scallops were sweet and perfectly caramelised and the octopus juicy and plump.
That brings me to the squid. It is hands down, without a doubt the best I have ever eaten anywhere. Tender and melting, without even a hint of rubbery toughness, the flavour was delicate, subtle but distinctive. If I had to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life it would be that very squid. Simply amazing.
Riddle and Finns does not disappoint on dessert either. Having so far exceeded my pretty high expectations, I decided to put the restaurant to my ultimate test: ordering something that I don't usually like (pretty difficult, it's not a broad field). On the dessert menu I spotted lychee in a parfait and gamely order it. It did not disappoint. In the masterful hands of Riddle and Finns' chef, lychee was transformed from an overpowering swig-from-a-perfume-bottle into the most delicate, subtle of aromas, perfectly suited to the light, air-like texture of the delicious parfait. Riddle and Finns, you have passed my ultimate test with flying colours and I will be returning as soon as I find an excuse to visit Brighton again.
Scratch that; eating at Riddle and Finns is my reason for visiting Brighton again.
What else is there to do?
Buzzing Brighton with its iconic beach and pier is choc-full of fantastic culture to enjoy, quirky independent shops for browsing, plenty of restaurants, as well as lots of art and a great nightlife with loads going on. For a bit of countryside, the nearby South Downs offer great walking and hiking, with far-reaching scenery, perfect for working off an indulgent lunch. Brighton is the kind of place with something to suit everyone on every occasion, it's well worth a visit.
Is there a downside?
Riddle and Finns in The Lanes doesn't take reservations and tables are shared between different groups or couples, so if this isn't your thing then check out their other restaurant on the Brighton seafront, which can also cater to private parties.
Cost wise... well it wasn't cheap, but it was definitely worth it.
Where is it?
The restaurant has two locations to choose from, one in The Lanes, and the other on the beach.
12B Meeting House Lane
139 Kings Road Arches
In case you were wondering...
I am in no way affiliated with Riddle and Finns, I did not receive any form of discount or recompense when eating there, and the restaurant was unaware that I was writing a review, so you can be sure that this is a fair and honest representation.
It's simply a truly great place to eat that more people need to know about, and I like to spread the word. Support what you love in any way you can!