It’s Friday night and I’m in the mood for Thai. Thai is one of my favourite cuisines when done well, sweet, spicy, salty and sour all in one mouthful, savoury yet sweet, moreish and delicious. Moving to Brighton & Hove has opened up a whole new world of dining possibilities, a new city to discover and new restaurants to try. I have to re-discover all my favourites, my go-to Saturday night takeaways and my creature comforts. It’s exciting.
So this Friday night we wanted Thai, a quick google search revealed one no further than 200 yards up the road. Perfect.
From the outside, I was a little confused, Cafe Chilli? Described as a ‘relaxed’ restaurant on Trip Advisor, was I walking into sticky tables and in-authentic cuisine?
On the inside the restaurant was interesting, on the one hand, the wooden tables and partition gave a distinctive Thai feel, on the other, it was lacking the over-exaggerated opulence that I’ve experienced in other Thai restaurants. I wasn’t sold just yet.
We sat and ordered a bottle of wine and prawn crackers whilst we perused the menu and it very quickly became apparent that what the Chilli Cafe lacked in style it made up for in substance.
Unable to choose we ordered vegetable spring rolls, chicken satay and salt and pepper squid from the starters selection. These came beautifully presented in banana leaf-lined bowls with ample vegetable garnish and lip-smacking sauces. The portions were more than generous with 4 plump chicken satay, 3 large spring rolls and a substantial bowl of calamari. The flavours were perfect, sweet, salty, spicy and sour. On the one hand, it was exactly how I expected it to be and on the other so much more.
For mains, we ordered Oh My Buddha! Beef and a Penang Curry with a side of coconut rice. The Oh My Buddha beef comprised of delicate slivers of rare sirloin steak stir-fried with an aromatic lemongrass sauce and plenty of fresh red chilli. It most certainly made me say “OMB” as it proceeded to challenge even my chilli-loving tastebuds. The Penang, on the other hand, was beautifully mild and creamy, filled with succulent chicken breast and a delicate chilli hit. Once again the portions were more than ample satisfying even my greedy appetite and we left without trying the dessert menu.
I was pleasantly surprised by Cafe Chilli, reasonably priced and packing a punch of flavour I’m overjoyed to have this little gem so close up the road.