I had a week off work last week and I knew that one of the things I wanted to do was to try one of the many places in Brighton that does a weekday lunch deal. There’s so many I see on Instagram and never get to try. So I took my mum to Pabellón at the bottom of North Street. It’s not in the most attractive part of town but once you’re inside it doesn’t really matter.
When we arrived around 2pm there were no customers. That does sometimes put me off but as it was a weekday and I knew the menu looked and sounded great, I decided we should go ahead. I am pleased we did.
Pabellón serves a fusion of Spanish and Asian food, it is the second restaurant by Senor Buddha who also has Circo in the city. This new restaurant has only been open for 5 weeks!
We already knew we’d be going for the Express Tapas Menu, which is 3 tapas for £15. A very good deal if you consider that the tapas dishes are normally anywhere between £6 and £14 per plate.
The selection of drinks is nice and like a lot of places at the moment, they have an extensive Gin selection. Gin really isn’t my thing but my mum ordered a strawberry flavoured gin with aromatic tonic. Now I did have a sip and it was delightful! I went for a Spanish Maeloc sidra, which is on draught and served as a pint or half pint. We were offered tap water, which I was relieved about. I hate being asked for still or sparkling then having to embarrassingly say ‘tap water’. I drink tap water at home and have done all my life so why would I want to pay for bottled water?!
There were 8 options on the lunch deal so it was quite easy for us to choose as we could get 6 between us. The tapas came gradually as they usually do and that was fine for us. The portions were pretty small but I had expected that and actually I was perfectly full afterwards.
It’s quite unusual for the potato option not to be patatas bravas and so this made a nice change. This is a Canary island thing, ‘papas arrugadas’ literally means ‘wrinkled/wrinkly potatoes’ I had tried mojo sauce before when I went to Fuerteventura. It is a sauce made of vinegar, garlic and oil and I guess the green one had a herb in, possibly parsley and the red one was made with chilli. Just guessing on those! The sauces tasted very fresh and worked well with the soft potatoes.
It pains me a little to write ‘calamaries’ in the plural, in Spanish it would be calamares. I am very picky when it comes to language describing food! I’m sure no one else even cares so I’ll quickly move on. This calamari was delicious, very tender with the right amount of batter and seasoning. Could have eaten the plate again!
I think the goats cheese tostada was my favourite. There was a generous amount of goats cheese and the salsa that went with it was delicious. I would quite happily have that as a main dish (a larger portion obviously!).
I forgot to take a photo of our Albondigas (beef meatballs with tomato sauce). They were very good but sadly only two meatballs on the plate: one each.
Again there’s a fusion of English and Spanish with the language used for the menu. It would be ‘sardinas’ in Spanish which I don’t think would be that hard for English people to understand! ‘al ajillo’ means ‘in garlic’ or ‘garlicky’ and sadly I didn’t notice the garlic here. It was yummy, especially with the orange paste underneath which was apparently aubergine with paprika. I’m not so sure about that. After visiting, I checked the Instagram page again as that was originally the reason I had wanted to give this place a go. Now this is their photo of this dish:
Now I’m thinking that the ‘Aubergine Picada’ is the spread on the piece of bread they have served next to the sardines in garlic. I appreciate that chefs may do slightly different things to a dish and it’s nice that they may have some freedom to vary the dishes BUT for me that’s not the same dish or anywhere near the same portion.
Lastly, we waited for Volcano Chicken. It felt a bit like they’d forgotten we’d ordered it and we had to ask if it was coming. This dish was way more Asian that Spanish. The flavours were powerful and tasty but the chicken was a little bit pathetic.
The Volcano Chicken shown on their Instagram page (Left) versus what we got (Right). I think the orange paste from this dish was what we might have had with the sardines. We got 3 tiny pieces of chicken breast with two bits of pak choi. I have checked that the dishes I’m comparing to are advertised as the tapas version because I know the dishes served in the deal are likely to be a smaller portion than the full priced tapas. Although, I’m still not sure that should be the case.
I haven’t written this post to put people off going to Pabellón. In fact, I would recommend trying it! I would just like it to be highlighted that what is advertised should at least be realistic of what is served. I don’t doubt that usually they serve what they advertise. I just can’t help feeling that because we went on a very quiet afternoon where the kitchen wasn’t fully in service that a few of the dishes were not up to scratch.
Would love to hear if you have tried it and what your experience was like.