The Regency Tavern
A fairly drab and uninspiring exterior masks a surprisingly upmarket backstreet boozer, tucked away between Western Road and the seafront, easily missed in the mess surrounding poorly designed Churchill Square.
One of Brighton’s five Shepherd Neame tied houses, the Regency Tavern is therefore something of a rarity, in that it’s owned by an actual brewery rather than one of the big faceless pubcos who seem to have monopolised most of the city. The Kentish brewery prides itself on being Britain’s oldest brewer and has a distinctive styling that makes all of their pubs instantly recognisable with raised gold lettering and traditional red sign.
The Regency’s off the beaten track location means it’s unlikely to attract a lot of passing trade and as a result it does have an air of exclusivity and wonder, particularly given the lavish interior styling. True to its name the inside of the pub features all manner of resplendent regency style decor which manages to keep it feeling classy whilst still cosy. It’s not a big pub by any means so this warm and comforting feel it has works very well, whether you’re after a quiet pint with the paper or you’re looking to dine with friends.
Being a Shepherd Neame pub the beers on tap are obviously tied to the brewery which means Master Brew and Spitfire on the pumps and Oranjeboom as the primary lager. It seems to be kept well but won’t inspire real ale die hards who might expect to see more choice.
On the menu are a variety of traditional British favourites such as steaks, pies and fish and chips, which the pub claims are all locally sourced. The Sunday lunch offering sees the place get extra posh with fancy tablecloths and big cloth napkins adorning every table, and this obviously proves very popular as space is hard to come by, even if the food doesn’t quite match the effort they’ve gone to in creating an atmosphere of lavish extravagance. When I visited I found the roast to be a fairly run of the mill offering with average meat and potatoes and disappointing boiled veg.
In terms of additional entertainment, this is a pub that doesn’t really need to lay on extras as its charm and style make it worth the visit alone, however the big black piano by the entrance sees use on Sunday afternoons as pianists play a mix of classical and lounge jazz numbers to add an air of sophistication.
I’d also like to make mention of the restroom facilities, which are decked out with shiny mirror mosaic tiles and hanging disco ball. Quite why they’ve chosen to do this I’ve no idea but it does make you remember your lavatory visits, and although I’ve only first hand experience of the gents, I’m reliably informed that it’s the same story for the ladies too. Memorable toilets don’t come high on my list of features that make a good pub but it’s interesting none the less, and helps the pub to stand out a little more in a crowded marketplace.
All in all this small but splendid little pub is a great place to while away an afternoon in luxurious surroundings. It can feel a little like a hotel bar at times, but only because its rich and exuberant furnishings stand it above many of its rivals. With character and charm in equal measure this is a Brighton boozer that’s well worth anyone’s visit.
At a glance
|Free Wi-Fi?||Yes. Code at bar|
|Children welcome?||Yes, during the day|