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Review of Easy Tiger at The Hampton Arms

Goan pork vindaloo at Easy Tiger at The Hampton Arms in Brighton

Brighton and Hove isn’t short of Indian eateries, but time and time again there’s one that really stands out to me in terms of creativity, quality and price writes Nick Mosley.

Chef Sabu Joseph’s Easy Tiger – the name for the kitchen at the ever-popular Hampton Arms pub in Upper North Street – is without doubt consistently at the top of the game.

For anyone who’s not familiar with the Hampton, although its been tarted up a bit in recent years, it’s still a proper local boozer. Despite the funky wall art, there’s a cosy air of spit-and-sawdust about it with a mishmash of random wooden tables and chairs, a shelf of board games to while away the hours with friends (or strangers), and pleasingly a pretty decent range of craft beers on tap.

I dropped by with friends and family on a Sunday lunchtime, and – to be honest – I was a bit surprised that at 2 o’clock it was a bit on the quiet side. Sitting by the window in late November, it was also on the chilly side too. But within half an hour the pub had filled up with hungry locals, and no doubt a few knowledgable shoppers from Western Road, and the temperature and atmosphere warmed up considerably.

The food menu is short but well-considered. Half a dozen starters average at around £8 per plate – perfect for nibbling on or sharing – with main courses around the £12 mark. Indian breads and rice are priced separately at between £2-4 each. Hence you can eat heartily for about £15 or go all out for another few quid.

Goan Pork Vindaloo at Easy Tiger at The Hampton Arms in Brighton

Always on the menu is Kerala Fried Chicken – crispy boneless chicken thigh coated in garlic, ginger, spices and rice flour. Safe to say its moreish and makes the perfect accompaniment to one of the IPA beers on the bar.

As there were six of us dining, we went all out on curries and sharing bowls of rice, paratha and perfectly crisp poppadoms: paneer in a sauce of tomato, peppers and coriander; chicken in a sauce of roasted coconut, chilli and shallots; and a pretty astounding sweet and sour Goan Pork Vindaloo with an apple compote that certainly hit-the-spot for heat lovers around the table. There is no skimping on ingredients or taste – I doubt very much that Sabu or his kitchen team are counting out prawns one-by-one in the kitchen to ensure specific portion control (again, naming no names in the world of Brighton and Hove Indian restaurants).

Lamb Biryani at Easy Tiger at The Hampton Arms in Brighton

The pièce de résistance was undoubtably the lamb biryani. A marvel of chunky cashews, sweet raisins, rich fried onions, melt-in-the-mouth chunks of lamb and impressively soft and flavoursome short-grain Jeerasala rice. Dear reader, when a dish priced at £13.50 is this good then there’s no need to look elsewhere.

A highlight of Easy Tiger is that many dishes are – by the nature of the Indian kitchen and the respect that chef Sabu shows for the cuisine of his homeland – vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free or have non-gluten ingredients. What that means is that there really is not only ‘something' on the menu for everyone, but also a decent number of dishes to give all diners real choice.

The Hampton has also jumped on the natural wine bandwagon, with a dozen reasonably priced choices including an impressive Sicilian white that is priced at £28 but with a pocket-friendly 20% on Sunday afternoons. The bar team are knowledgable and very happy to offer a taster so you can pick the perfect wine – or beer – to accompany your meal.

Anders Wilson, Sabu Joseph and Miles Clarke of Easy Tiger at The Hampton Arms in Brighton

Sabu Joseph is also not only a great Brighton-based chef but he’s also a genuinely nice guy with integrity by the tiffin-load which – trust me – in the world of Brighton’s Indian restaurants isn’t necessarily a given. For grrrrr-eat well-priced Indian dishes served with smile, the choice is easy, tiger.

Easy Tiger @ The Hampton, 57 Upper North Street, Brighton BN1 3FH

01273 731347 •


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