Despite the seemingly unending bad news about the cost of living squeeze, the long drag from Western Road to Church Road doesn’t appear to be short of restaurant, café and bar openings. At least once a week, a press release passes across my desk extolling the virtues of a new kitchen or dining concept. Last month, one particularly caught my attention: Catch and Grill.
For regular readers of this column, you may recall that I reviewed sister neighbouring restaurant – Third Avenue – in the early Autumn and it’s fair to say that there are similarities between the two. The Spanish-Mediterranean dishes for both come from the same kitchen so there is an element of cross-over on plates, however Catch and Grill is a more traditional three course menu rather than the small plate concept of Third Avenue.
The long dining room offers a flexible choice of table and banquette seating so works for both groups and also more intimate duos. The feeling is cosy (in a good way) with burnt orange, yellow and ochre velvet seating and cushions complemented by an eclectic gallery of prints and quirky objects. On my visit the background music was a chilled soundtrack of jazz standards and modern ambient pop, which all adds to the loungey, relaxed feel.
The menu reads well – all the dishes sounded tasty and I could have happily chosen any of them which isn’t typically the case for me at least. As the restaurant name suggests the menu is led by fish and seafood but there’s also vegetarian and steak choices too.
For my starter, I opted for the sardines and I have to admit I’ve had these before as it’s one of the small plates next door and I thoroughly enjoyed on my previous visit. They’re fresh as the day is new, perfectly grilled and matched perfectly with a punchy herb, garlic and paprika sauce and a smattering of chargrilled sweetcorn kernels.
My lunch partner and Argus colleague Arron chose the grilled scallops on a bed of cauliflower purée and morcilla blood sausage, which I eyed enviously. The scallops were whoppers – firm yet juicy – and the black pudding made the ideal bedfellow on the plate.
We both stuck with the seafood theme for the our mains. I’m a huge fan of sea bass – I like the firmness of the flesh and also the slight oiliness – and my serving was a hearty fillet with perfectly crisp skin. The fried Cavolo Nero cabbage and smattering of pomegranate seeds added a delightful bitter-sweet accompaniment.
Hands down the winning dish of the lunch were the grilled tandoori monkfish skewers – two hefty sticks of meaty monkfish with spicy yoghurt, lemon pickle and a roti bread. Safe to say that there were no complaints from the other side of the table and nobody was leaving hungry.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time for desserts – there was still work to be done at Argus towers – but there’s a choice of six puddings. Drinks are well-priced with decent house wine from a fiver a glass and proper cocktails for a tenner.
Three things really stand-out to me about Catch and Grill and – to be fair – Third Avenue too. Firstly, they don’t scrimp on the quality of ingredients nor the portion size; dishes are genuinely good value for money.
Secondly, the cooking really stands out; the flavours and textures of dishes are well-considered and expertly executed. The kitchen team know what they’re doing and – from my experience – are consistent.
Finally – and this is heartwarming to see at at time when hospitality is faced with ongoing staff retention and recruitment challenges – the front of house team are amazing. They are friendly, knowledgable of the menu and wine list and clearly enjoy working at the restaurant. Their passion really rubs off on the guest’s experience.
Whether you dine at Third Avenue or Catch and Grill, you’ll have chosen very well in this neck of the woods. And that’s o-fish-cial!
Catch and Grill, 70 Church Road, Hove BN3 2FP
01273 980 577 • www.catchandgrill.co.uk