Tell your lunch date to meet you outside iGiGi, a stylish home design shop on Western Road in Hove, not far from the seafront, because we’ve found ourselves a new hidden spot for a cosy date lunch in the city…
A quick glance at the blackboard out front offers a tasty clue of what’s in store. So, follow me, as we turn and leave the busy main road behind us, and head inside to find out more…
iGiGi is a rustic, bohemian interior design shop filled with tempting things for your home. It should basically come with a warning, in that it’s likely you’ll get so distracted looking around you’ll forget what time it is and what you were supposed to be doing instead! Which right now is making our way up the wooden staircase… (we’ll come back to the shop later…)
…up and around we go…
…past the beautifully hand-written wine list…until we arrive at our destination. Ta da! Welcome to Chard Restaurant. How pretty is this place?
This is Brighton’s newest and most exciting restaurant, which just happens to make the perfect setting for a secret lunch date – which seeing as you’re reading my blog, I know you’ll love. The smell of delicious bakes wraps around you like a warm blanket as you take in your rustic, country, homely, surroundings.
Chard Restaurant is family owned and run with love – by sisters Benny and Mae, and Mae’s partner, Ciarán. Looking around, you can really tell it’s a family affair; every detail carefully and personally curated and considered. Being here makes you feel as though you’ve discovered somewhere really special no-one else knows about, like you’re in for an exciting treat. The perfect setting for a quiet, cosy lunch date.It’s like you’ve already come across Chard, if you recognise the name. It was started by chef Benny as a pop-up restaurant in Café Rust a few years ago (another charming Brighton cafe) close to Preston Park. Mae and Ciarán joined her recently and together they’ve made iGiGi their permanent home.
They’re now fully settled in and open Wednesday to Saturday ay – as a cafe from 11am with lunch served from 12-3pm, and brunch on Saturdays; then from 6-10pm for dinner, when the space – including the big table at the back of the shop downstairs – magically transforms into a cosy restaurant.
The good thing about this place is that there are lots of little corners to get cosy in – perfect for your lunch date in Brighton. How about this table one at the back? Or what about the one in the window? Decisions, decisions!
And now to the menu! No-one wants to feel overly full, lethargic and sleepy on a special lunch date, do they? At Chard, the day-time dishes are simple and light, seasonal and comforting, leaving you feeling happy and nourished. There are things like smoked haddock chowder, roasted garlic and chive chowder and sourdough, or what about some Sussex charmer cheese, candied walnuts, pickled celery and apple? Or maybe you like the look of the Sussex blue and tender stem broccoli egg pan pie?
Whatever you choose, each dish is lovingly created and beautifully presented by Benny and Cieron in the basement kitchen, and served with a big dose of charm by hostess Mae.
Seeing as we’ve been so good, you probably deserve a bit of carrot cake for dessert? Or a scone, perhaps?
On Saturdays, they serve up ‘hot cakes’ for brunch. Benny’s twist on pancakes, served with various things like banana, honeycomb butter, candied pecans, maple syrup and a rasher of crispy streaky bacon. Wow.
And here’s a picture of the place set for dinner to get you in the mood for that, too.
So there you have it! I hope I’ve inspired your next secret lunch – or even coffee, brunch or dinner – date in Brighton! Read their menus and book your table, here.
UPDATE May 2021: Chard and the iGiGi home design shop sadly closed their doors mid-pandemic. Good news another restaurant opened in the space. It’s called Botanique and it has the same style and atmosphere and serves the most beautiful vegan food. I highly recommend it for your next secret girls’ lunch in Brighton!