Fresh under the wing of Great Escape, and nursing a half-hangover courtesy of Horatio's half-price pier drinks come sundown, nothing could have been more tempting than boozer bites. Newly owned, with interiors updated and a menu that harked more of gastro than ever, we got to grips with what Grand Central now had to offer Brighton.
Likely less than a stone's throw from the station, Grand Central has peak position when it comes to post-train pints. Looking at the newly flushed interiors, Fuller's are sticking to their humble stance, cladding the venue in inviting tones and modern, shapely furniture, while sticking to the pub's classic awnings and rich, dark mahogany. One of the biggest surprises? Grand Central has a rooftop garden that tinkers with Tic-Tac coloured furniture and foliage, making it a real hidden gem in a town that doesn't boast the biggest selection of beer gardens.
While many would consider the garden Grand Central's biggest asset, I've got my eyes on the speakeasy prize thanks to their newly repurposed top floor, Nightingale Room. A space for cabaret and gin combined, not only do they have the biggest collection of juniper themed bottles in town, this lush space of botanical prints, velvet upholstery and slinky interiors is a hidden craving for Brighton and I absolutely loved it.
The Food and Drink
Let's be honest, being surprised by a pub meal comes rarely, it's the meal we bank on when it comes to both price and flavour; but Grand Central are having none of that.
Genuinely impressed by their selection of snacks, Grand Central mixed Colonial dishes and British flavours to give us two plates that really stepped up the pub mark. Splitting between us the caulifower and spinach pakora with coronation mayonnaise and the Brighton Bier rarebit with raisin puree (both £4.50), these were wholesome plates that blended more-ish flavours with rich, recognisable notes. As a person that considers a grape far better than a raisin, the puree was so perfectly paired with the cheese that i've thrown all my palate reliability out of the window.
With a petite main menu that caters incredibly well to meat-eaters and vegetarians combines, we split between us the classic Frontier battered cod (£11), and a beetroot falafel burger with zhoug and sweet tahini (£8.50). Not only was the veggie burger a rare surprise thanks to a departure from beans and a venture into something clearly more produce-based, the cod was fresh, clean and set alongside a perfectly tart tartare sauce. Pairing our dinner with a pint of Brighton Bier and a couple of glasses of 'we so fancy' prosecco, Grand Central proved that a pub dining experience doesn't need to be the ever reliable.
5pm on a sunny Friday afternoon during Great Escape? Sure, Grand Central was bound to be busy no matter what, but pending that this location savvy pub had previously been a bit of a waif on the Brighton pub scene, it's as though new-life had taken hold. Bustling, and with a more than approachable bar staff, the new Grand Central seems to have more gusto than ever. And while bar manager Pat may have not long been in the job (his cat still due for transport), his commitment to our dining experience and to the pub was clear, making him a massive attribute to the future of Grand Central.
Brighton has some amazing 'bank on them' boozers, some amazing pubs with history and notoriety at that, and while Grand Central may not be the most independent, the overtly kooky or the cheapest, its new look brings a new lease of life, and with it a new a top menu of favourites served well alongside pints that'd make a brewer proud.