Brighton Square has been a funny old place over the years so it’s pleasing to see that it’s finally blossomed. And I mean that quite literally, as its most recent addition is aptly named Blossoms with the facade adorned by a glorious display of Japanese cherry blossom flowers: you simply can’t miss it.
I have to admit, I stumbled on this place a couple of months back with my mate Jan from Brighton Toy Museum. I’d heard various things on the Sussex rumour mill, but nobody in my bartending circle seemed to know much which proved to be surprising as a key part of the venue’s offering is cocktails, of which we enjoyed a few on that initial visit.
But it was the food menu that I was particularly keen to try so on a sunny July Friday afternoon a fortnight or so back I headed over to sample their new summer offering. It would’ve been rude not to start with a cocktail so I went for a Yuzu margarita – a Mexican classic with a slight Japanese twist that was a great example of the category.
Although on this occasion I wasn’t dining with my usual review partner in crime – Little Miss Greedy Guts – I was thankfully with a friend who can polish off more than her svelte figure suggests. So when the plates started to land on our table, I had confidence there wouldn’t be too many crumbs left.
The menu is Japanese themed, although with a slight twist that we’ve become accustomed too in the UK.
There are around a dozen small plates of sashimi and maki starting at £4.50 each that would make for a perfect snack with a wine or cocktail. The quality of the fish was high, served at the right temperature and well-prepared and presented – you’d be surprised how many Japanese and sushi bars in Brighton are buying salmon and tuna pre-cut from a wholesaler. Thankfully none of that here.
Compared to the competition, I’d say the big differential with Blossoms is their pretty epic hot small plates and bowls that generally average at around the £7-9 mark, however there are a couple cheaper and one-or-two more expensive.
Again, the attention to detail on the preparation and dressing of the hot dishes is clearly evident. Perhaps, despite the number of dishes that we enjoyed, the highlight was leaving without feeling stuffed as everything was tasty and filling but not greasy, fatty or heavy.
The tempura batter on the vegetables and chilli squid was as light as a feather. The spicy kimchi – a personal favourite of mine and pleasingly made in-house at Blossoms – and cucumber salad were fresh and uplifting additions.
The duck gyoza was a work of art, dressed with edible flowers on a stunning picture-perfect blue plate. Creative genius from the kitchen team. Meanwhile the kara-age chicken turned out to be an absolute must-eat; bite sized pieces of chickens wrapped in batter and a soy and ginger sauce. Delicious.
The only slight miss on the food menu for me was the skinny fries with sesame seeds, chilli and bonito flakes. It just seemed a bit incongruous against the rest of the menu but I guess we Brits love our tummy-filling chips so there’s a reason why they’re there.
Due to hectic schedules, my guest and I didn’t have time for dessert but on the basis of everything else we ate I think I can safely say you can expect good things.
My dining partner exclaimed that Blossoms is one of the most Instagramable venues in Brighton. The interior is adorned with more faux cherry blossom than you could shake a stick at, huge somewhat retro wall graphics and lots of atmospheric neon lighting. It’s very, very well done, working both during the day and into the evening.
On Saturday and Sunday, Blossoms opens at 10.30am rather than their regular 1pm start. At weekends, there’s a lazy brunch menu with very well-priced dishes including eggs on sourdough toast for £6.50 and a full English for £9.50. In this day and age, I’d say those are a bit of a bargain.
Owner Sam and the team are the epitome of hospitality. Nothing is too much trouble, menu knowledge is excellent and service is with a big smile; unfortunately not all things that can be expected a sizeable chunk of the city’s hospitality industry.
Despite popping up without the repetitive and tedious PR fanfare of many new venue openings, Blossoms has discreetly become a superb addition to the dining scene on its own terms. The venue is beautiful and very unique, the food and cocktails are top notch and – perhaps most importantly – the price is right. Details matter and Sam and his brilliant kitchen, bar and front-of-house team are nailing it.
Blossoms, 17-19 Brighton Square, Brighton BN1 1HD 01273 749 648 • www.blossomsbrighton.co.uk