What: A relaxed Spanish restaurant with some East Asian influences within a handsome listed building next to Brighton Pavilion. Pabellón - which is Spanish for pavilion - has a long bar and open kitchen running down the right-hand side and a pared back modern look that makes good use of the space’s original features.
Who: Circo owner Lee Shipley. Launched in 2015 as Señor Buddha, Circo is found just off Preston Circus in Brighton’s London Road area. It too is a fusion of Spanish and Asian, but Pabellón is intended to be a little more refined than its older (and considerably smaller) brother. Shipley started out cooking at Señor Buddha but has now largely left the kitchen. The head chef at Pabellón is Raúl Gomez Gonzalez.
The vibe: The space has a grown-up look and feel with navy blue walls, high quality furniture and subtle Spanish references. To the rear of the restaurant is a ‘secret’ PDR that’s accessed via a bookcase.
The food: The kitchen blends Spanish and Asian influences but the jumping off point is nearly always an established tapas dishes: gambas a la plancha, patatas bravas, albondigas and the like. The main menu is split into vegetables, fish and meat. It includes charred baby gem, pea, mint manchego (£6); salt and pepper squid with black garlic (£8); sticky pork ribs with Korean BBQ sauce and pickled chillies. There’s also a tortilla of the day section with vegetable, fish and meat options and three desserts, including Catalan-style doughnuts with palm sugar caramel and chilli ginger chocolate. There is an Express Tapas menu designed to drive business in the city’s often slow weekday market with three plates for £15 Monday-Thursday from midday to 6pm.
The drink: Much thought has gone into Pabellón’s drinks offering. There is a selection of Spanish-made gins, beers and ciders and a small but creative cocktail list. The wine list is also 100% Spanish. While not expansive, it’s well-chosen and sensibly priced with a good mix of established and lesser known Spanish wines.
And another thing: Pabellón is tapping into Brighton & Hove’s potentially lucrative brunch market with bottomless bloody marys, cava or gin cocktail Agua Pabellón for £15 per head at the weekends.