Christmas at the Walrus Brighton
It is no secret that we at Sussex Visitor love the Walrus. It has been our go to destination for meet-ups and drinkies for the last couple of years. Last year they hosted our Christmas knees up and it was so good we are heading back there again this year for more incredible food, festive fun and drunken shenanigans. It is a fantastic multi-purpose venue that literally caters for everyone, and does this exceptionally well. Whether you are a foodie, a dater, a weekday drinker, or party animal at the weekend, it’s the place for you.. The team behind the Walrus will look after you whatever your needs and wants. They have a simply enormous selection of drinks, with guest cask ales, a select wine list, and a whole variety of different spirits to please the most fastidious of drinkers. There is excellent food here for everyone regardless of dietary choices, allergies and levels of fussiness. They even serve roast dinners on a Monday, which on this occasion suited my wife Sally and I, as we were far too hungover to venture out on the Sunday prior. So, craving our weekly roast fix we decided to take a trip into town to the Walrus on Monday to give their fast becoming renowned roast dinners a go. It seems working for Absolute has its perks, as upon discovering we were from the magazine, they offered to give us a sneaky taster of some of the dishes from the festive menu too! How could we refuse?
The Walrus never ceases to amaze me whenever I go as it feels like you are walking into the TARDIS. Its quaint unassuming entrance on Ship Street opens up into a luxurious pub with a vast welcoming bar, dominated by deep blue and green hues and old photography, with cosy ambient lighting and relaxed drinkers and diners dotted about the area. As it was Sally’s first visit to the Walrus I took her upstairs, past the immense two floor heated roof terrace, to the magnificent 100 seater dining area. She was immediately impressed by the grandness of the room, commenting on the beautiful chandeliers, immaculately laid tables, and the attention to detail that has gone into the traditional elegant Christmas decorations, where they have succeeded in creating a warm and inviting traditional old fashioned stately home feel to the room. No mean feat considering the vastness of the area.
We settled into our seats in the corner of the room, giving us the best views of the dining area, including the wonderful fireplace draped with holly and traditional decorations. It was then that we got chatting to our super friendly waitress, who suggested we try a couple of items from the festive menu.
After selecting our wine (a lively French Merlot for me and a crisp and fresh Sauvignon Blanc for Sally), we had a chat about starters. Knowing I was going full carnivore for the roast, I plumped for the vegan Courgette Galette with salsa verde, mizuna, and sundried romesco sauce. Sally, not being a big eater herself decided to forgo the starter, but they brought out the Smoked Salmon Tart with black ink crème fraiche, pickled seaweed and salmon caviar from the festive menu anyway which I was more than happy to share with her.
Both starters were out of this world! I could not recommend the Courgette Galette more to vegans and non-vegans alike. The sharpness of the courgette perfectly neutralised by the earthy sundried romesco sauce and set off by the light mustardy taste of the mizuna, all encased in the puffiest of puff pastry and lubricated with chilled salsa verde. It was the Smoked Salmon tart that stole the show however. Everything about this incredibly moreish dish worked. The creamy black ink crème fraiche delicately neutralised the incredible richness of the top quality smoked Salmon, whilst the caviar and pickled seaweed added extra dimensions to the tart in terms of sharpness and wildly varying textures. I realise now why they wanted us to try it!
On to the main event. Unable to decide between the Lamb and the turkey Christmas roast I decided to have both, whilst Sally plumped for the mushroom, spinach and vegan cheese wellington. I usually end up finishing half of Sally’s roast as well as mine anyway so I figured I would be able to manage two to myself. How wrong I was. These plates were enormous! These are incredibly generous portions of what I can only describe as the very best quality roast dinners in all of Brighton. The meat on both the plates I had amazed me! The huge chunk of perfectly cooked and seasoned lamb was pink and juicy with a lovely crisp skin. The Turkey was equally salacious, and rolled in bacon to seal in the flavour and juices. I tucked in to a bit of Sally’s wellington too, even though I am not usually a fan of veggie or vegan options when it comes to roasts. I was impressed however, and if every pub could cook a wellington as tasty as this one I would happily go vegan every time! It turns out the chefs at The Walrus are pastry experts, and the filling was incredibly tasty, with the vegan cheese adding a lovely tangy aftertaste which I have never experienced in a veggie wellington before. All plates contained expertly cooked veggies that had an overwhelming sense of seasonality and freshness, including crispy kale, baby parsnips and carrots, and beetroot. The roast potatoes were cooked to perfection, sweet and fluffy on the inside and a golden-brown satisfying carapace of crunch. Each roast had just the right amount of gravy made from the jus of the meat being served with, or an incredibly flavoursome vegan option. The staff are more than happy to provide more if requested, and you can soak it all up with a ginormous light and fluffy home cooked Yorkshire pudding which comes with all options. We nearly managed all three between us but decided to take some home in a doggy-bag and save a tiny bit of room for dessert.
I have to admit, going for dessert might have been pushing it a bit after the amount we had already eaten, but we managed to finish them eventually as they were too good to leave. The incredible sticky toffee pudding from the main menu was incredible! It was rich and gooey with the perfect marriage of sweetness and stodge. The classic baked cheesecake from the festive menu was velvety dense and creamy and impeccably partnered with a generous drizzle of blackberry compote.
As we waddled out with our doggy bag in tow, incredibly full and in awe of our experience on this unassuming Monday in November, we reflected that there really is no better roast served in Brighton and Hove. The truly inspired idea to serve them on a Monday for the people who happen to miss their Sunday roast fix the day before is just brilliant. The bits we tried from the festive menu were incredible and I am now even more excited for our Christmas do. We wholeheartedly encourage you to book yours there too. At three courses for £27.50 you will not find better value, and where else can you go and continue the party downstairs for the rest of the evening? The Walrus is most definitely the place to be this festive season.