Hovered Over Hoovering

My friend Gemma is a superstar physiotherapist. You can tell she’s doing well for herself because she’s moved to Hove. Hove has gone from being the dominion of the elderly to being super-trendy, like a sequined cardigan or an in-bath tea tray.

I could have found Gem’s house using a map, but, just in case, she texted me: “It’s the one with the massive bush protruding.” And what a glorious bush it was.

Jess’s friend Gemma has a massive protruding bush. See.

We did the things people do on a blazing sunny day. We promenaded along the sand, drinking icy drinks and contemplating castles. Then an enormous roast. What? If people don’t usually want a roast when the red hot sun is beating down into their sweaty eyes, people are idiots.

Gem took me to the labyrinthine Lion & Lobster, famous for its wending nooks and wooden wells. We climbed to the top and sat out on the roof.

Then I saw the menu. Are you ready? You can get half and half roasts. You can have TWO meats. Pork belly and beef for me and the nut roast for Gem. Because she’s far more morally attuned than me. Plus, see the aforementioned ‘lives in Hove’.

The meals were £9.95 each, which isn’t bad. Side dishes were only 70p so we didn’t muck about. We got a Yorkshire to share (I had sacrificed mine when I went for the Half and Half), plus some cauliflower cheese and a pig in blanket.

It turned up in about five minutes. Any quicker and we’d have worried. And then I realised it should have been called the ‘whole and whole’. It was immense. Both in size and in the way teenagers meant circa 2002. There are parts of Mayfair where the side of cauliflower cheese would have counted as a main. It looked like a small cottage pie. The entire banquet was so enticing that, as we tucked in, couples sat near us started leaning in and drooling. Within our first three mouthfuls, and consequent groans of joy, they had all ordered roasts too.

The meat sat atop some lovely vegetables. There was broccoli and cabbage that had some bite and a sweet swede puree. The parsnips had been roasted in too much glorious lard to still count as a vegetable but they were there too, being all delicious. Least inspiring were the roasties. There were a bit leathery and half-arsed. In my dreams (and yes, they’re often in my dreams) they have golden, crumbling edges and fluffy middles.

The pork was runner up to the beef. Its crackling roof could have done with another few minutes under the grill before it came out to party. The beef was spot on though, lean and juicy.

I didn’t care that it wasn’t all exquisite, I’d been allowed two dinners in one. Giant roasts need not concern themselves with nuance. This was about a beautiful mountain of hearty grub, paddling up to the knees in hot gravy. Oh, and the gravy. It’s the only thing you can call ‘stocky’ as a compliment and it was excellent.

Over the course of our stay, the place became heaving with customers. We were, no doubt, lucky to get in there while the kitchen was still working with ninja efficiency.

Such is the popularity of The Lion and Lobster that before we’d even finished a lady approached and asked if we’d be leaving soon. I said, “No, sorry”. She said “I’ll give them your table number anyway.”

What?! That’s Hovian confidence if I ever met it. We got rid of her in the end, but if you brave this brilliant place, expect an element of table-wars.

The scale of the dinner almost defeated us, almost. I left a tiny bit, but only because I was so full I thought my blood had turned to horseradish.

The Lion and Lobster was previously owned by Gary Whelan from Ballykissangel. He sold it last year for £4.5m, making it the most valuable pub in Brighton. It’s clear to me why it sold for so much: the Half and Half.


Jess visited The Lion & Lobster in June

The Lion & Lobster

Address: 24 Sillwood St, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 2PS
Tel: 01273 327299; http://thelionandlobster.co.uk
Opening hours:
Mon to Thu: 11am to 1am
Fri and Sat: 11am to 2am
Sun: noon to midnight
Food served from noon to close every day
Disabled access? No (steps on all entrances and toilets on ground floor but no disabled one and doors very narrow).