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Review of Namo Eat @ The Eagle

Selection of small plates at Namo Eat at The Eagle, Brighton

Now there is Thai food and there is Thai food, writes Nick Mosley.

Before visiting the ‘Land of Smiles’ I never really had much of an appreciation of Thai cuisine, in fact I’d go so far to say that I had a very strong aversion to lemongrass which is a staple ingredient of the Thai kitchen.

Turns out I didn’t hate it, I just hated ropey old stale lemongrass that I’d bought from the supermarket. The fresh stuff absolutely rocks!

Through the Sussex food and drink grapevine, I heard rumblings of a Thai food offering that hadn’t been on my radar despite having been around for a couple of years.

Namo Eat is the resident kitchen at The Eagle pub on Gloucester Road in Brighton; incidentally they also have Namo X at The Avenue on St James Street.

Now its been a long time since I’ve been to The Eagle, primarily because the last time I visited it was seriously grubby and attracted a level of clientele to match.

My how things have changed. The exterior has been painted with a psychedelic mural of sea creatures and outer space whilst the upper floor has attractive window boxes. My jaw literally dropped however when I walked through the door; the whole place has been completely renovated from top to bottom, including moving the bar and – I think, if my memory serves me  – taking down a wall at the back to create a much more light and airy space.

It’s still very much a pub in terms of furniture, however big retro print wallpaper and pops of bold colours – magenta, turquoise – bring a welcome and cheery contemporary feel to the space. Its really rather nice.

Putting interior design to one side, we were here to sample the food not comment on the curtains. Namo Eats menu is extensive – there really is somewhere here for everyone.

From the small plates section, my lunch partner Arron and I chose prawn crackers (of course), Thai style onion fritters (think along the lines of a bhaji), chicken satay and a mango and shrimp salad. The small plates average around the £7 mark, with the salad at £12.50. To be honest, two of these smaller plates would be more than enough for lunch.

Pad Thai at Namo Eat at The Eagle, Brighton

The thing that stuck me most as the dishes arrived on our table was how modern the plating was. A huge amount of thought has clearly gone into presentation with splashes of colour added by fresh herbs, chillies and spring onions. It really is a feast for the eyes.

The mango salad was exceptional. Fresh, sweet, spicy and tangy, the mango was on the right side of ripe and there was no skrimping on the prawns. The onion fritters were a delight – deliciously crisp and not laded with oil as can so often be the case. The chicken thigh satay was melt-in-the-mouth. In a nutshell everything was pretty much perfect.

To be honest, after polishing off that lot, it wasn’t really necessary to have a main course as well but as a martyr to food reviewing I convinced myself that I could get a pad Thai down as well. Again, a generous bowl of fresh ingredients with plenty of shrimp, chicken and tofu; excellent value at £14.50. Arron ordered Masaman curry – an impressively rich gravy packed with vegetables and with just the right amount of chilli heat without blowing the top of your head off. Again, priced well at £11.95. Neither of us could finish our dishes so they were boxed up and Arron took them home for supper.

Masaman curry at Namo Eat at The Eagle, Brighton

Dietaries are very well catered for with around half of the dishes being vegan or vegetarian. Equally, a similar number are marked as gluten free. With a weekday lunch menu of mains priced at £9-10, if you work in the area than you can get a hearty meal without breaking the bank.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Thai kitchen, co-owner Bookie also runs cookery classes at the Brighton Community Kitchen on Queens Road so I’d thoroughly recommend that you keep an eye out for those. I must say I need help to stop my rice noodles clumping.

Namo Eat proves yet again that some of the most creative and best value cooking in the city is happening in pub kitchens, which is good news for diners. Namo Eat is a prime example of this and I really can’t recommend it enough.

Nick Mosley

Namo Eat at The Eagle, 125 Gloucester Road, Brighton BN1 4AF


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