Duke Street has long had a reputation as one of Brighton’s premium shopping thoroughfares, although recent times have led to a noticeable shift from retail to hospitality. For pedestrians negotiating the gauntlet of outdoor seating, a-boards and umbrellas is an increasing challenge but at least there’s a welcoming European alfresco air to the street now.
A recent addition is Twisted Brisket, unsurprisingly from the same fold as one of Brighton’s oldest and most revered cocktail bars Twisted Lemon which is located down a short twitten at the other end of Duke Street. I can’t recall what nondescript restaurant or café was on this site previously but you certainly can’t miss Twisted Brisket in all its glorious, slap-bang-in-your-face orange splendour.
Inside is pretty minimal with a choice of high and low tables. To be honest, the interior feels a little like it is still a work-in-progress and my guess is that it probably is. That said, the vibe is buzzy, with an upbeat soundtrack of classic-ish rock playing in the background.
As one would expect from a venue from the Twisted crew, there’s a pretty epic cocktail menu which you can enjoy with items from the menu or simply pop in for a sharpener mid-shopping. Cocktails are priced at around a tenner but from noon until 7pm daily around half of the cocktails are at a very reasonable £5.95 which is not to be sniffed at when you consider the cost of cocktails elsewhere. The floor team are also experienced bartenders so they really know what they are doing, unlike in some restaurants I could mention.
If I ever needed an excuse for a lunchtime cocktail – which I typically don’t – then this was it. I prefer a stiff one so chose a ‘perfect’ Manhattan of whiskey and sweet and dry vermouth. My thought process being that it would be a pretty good flavour match for the vaguely US Deep South themed menu.
In terms of food then the star of the show is, you guessed it, brisket – a classic cut from the breast of the cow that is melt in the mouth when it is slow cooked. The brisket bun consisting of a layers of sliced meat with pickles, slaw and a choice of sauce certainly hit the spot in terms of flavour and texture; it was also a joy to have a sandwich bun that actually holds together rather than disintegrating into half a dozen sloppy pieces. At £8.95 this made for a filling and enjoyable lunch.
Also on the ‘mains’ menu are a couple of other dishes including Thai beef salad and a rather epic sounding Twisted Tower sandwich which I dare say falls into ‘Man vs Food’ territory. This being Brighton there are also vegetarian and vegan options available.
Perhaps the most exciting element of the menu is the multitude of side dishes priced between £3-7. Loaded fries, corn fritters, mac and cheese… they’re all the kind of thing you probably shouldn’t eat but can’t stop yourself.
I can’t say I was overly impressed with the battered beef bites that looked and tasted like they’d come out of bag of dried jerky, but the thinly cut onion rings were outstanding. Clearly homemade with a perfectly light batter. Equally the deep fried gherkins were on-point and will have me going back for more.
Overall, Twisted Brisket serves up a great value eating experience that’s informal and friendly. The menu isn’t particularly extensive but then again it doesn’t need to be when the food – and cocktails – are this good.
Twisted Brisket, 16 Duke Street, Brighton BN1 1AH
– Nick Mosley