HarBar at Brighton Harbour Hotel, Brighton

Killing time can be in danger of becoming a last-minute lunch, when in such luxurious surroundings as the bar counter of a rather posh seaside hotel…

There’s always a hazard in being too punctual for one’s own good. If your friends are running later than planned, and there’s only so much of Brighton’s Lanes to explore (as sacrilegious as that may sound to some people), it presents a window in which to find somewhere to take refuge from the questionable weather and temperature and peruse some menus. Which, naturally, leads to giving in to temptation, and having a little early lunch.

My sanctuary in this two-hour period was the Brighton Harbour Hotel right on the waterfront, a couple of minutes’ walk from where my friends were staying. It has its own restaurant, The Jetty, where I probably would have had lunch had I gone in planning to eat. Instead, I made do with the hotel bar, aptly called HarBar: just a drink and the attention of the highly competent manager, sat up at the counter – I know, like one of those kinds of restaurant critics – while I had a look at the menu. Just to look, as one does.

And then I saw them. The words Oysters Rockefeller staring up at me from that little A5 sheet of paper. Priced very reasonably at £2.95 each. Compared to what some places charge for Oysters (just read my review of Mandarin in Bournemouth a couple of issues ago to get my point on that), this was well worth taking on.

Named after the richest man in the USA at the time, John D. Rockefeller, the dish consists of the shellfish baked in a sauce of green herbs and butter, giving them a distinct colour. In modern times, the ingredients making up the sauce has been chopped and changed many times, and the combination the Brighton Harbour uses is worth investing in. Four simple ingredients that make a secret to a successful hors d’œuvre: Garlic, Parsley, Spinach and Parmesan.

Oysters Rockefeller

But as I say, it is an hors d’œuvre, so you can’t expect too much from the portion size (as pictured above). The richness goes hand-in-hand with its namesake in terms of its flavour. Indeed, if it were feasible in many people’s budgets, get a few more in and they would make a decent entrée. We remained restrained at two, for now. And loved every mouthful. Packed with some of my favourite flavours – especially the cheese and the garlic. Recommended to any shellfish lover.

Prawn & Crab Sandwich, with French Fries

Now, you know me better than that — I can’t just stick to the one course. Being the lounge bar, the choice of bigger dishes was a bit limited, but, being in the seafood mood, I couldn’t resist the Prawn and Crab Sandwiches (see pictured), served with a little saucepan of French Fries.

After traipsing around Brighton in the rain and wind, good hot food with no airs and graces was perfectly welcome. Lovely as the sandwiches were, for all I know, there was no crab in there whatsoever: the flavours had been utterly dominated by the horseradish in the Marie Rose sauce. Don’t get me wrong – it tasted beautifully; just made half the ingredients of the sandwich redundant.

Next time we’re in Brighton — do the other half of this hotel and have dinner at The Jetty? Sounds like a good plan to me!