A sophisticated tone and revered chicken wings have made The Joker one of the best known pubs on London Road
The Joker Brighton
The Lost Boys chicken served here is no laughing matter
A pub has sat on this spot for a century or more, way before Preston Circus was the busy intersection it is now, yet the rumble of traffic has not harmed the popularity of The Joker Brighton, which has hit an unlikely winning formula of glamour and fried chicken.
The pub follows the archetypal contemporary decor of tiled floor, exposed brick and healthy green plants, but for some reason at The Joker it just feels that bit more decadent. Maybe it’s the gold painted ceiling, the massive semi-circular booths, the VIP lounge at the back or the reassuringly expensive cocktail menu, but this pub feels a class above other pubs nearby.
Upstairs the Joker have installed a games room with pool table and darts board, and an adjacent cocktail lounge. Both have a feeling of elegance about them and both available for party bookings.
The bar bills itself as a cocktail lounge primarily, but on the bar it’s nice to see a few interesting beer options, and generally something different to the norm. The pub buy from Carlsberg/Marstons and so brands like Erdinger, Estrella and Leffe sit alongside some craft beer options by Wolfpack from North West London. I’ll be honest, I was not a fan of either of the beers from Wolfpack, and their Pilsner had a strong, off-putting smokey flavour to it. The Joker’s own branded craft lager is actually a re-branded version of Marston’s Revisionist craft lager, and unfortunately I’m not a fan of that either. It’s lemony, for some reason, and just not clean and crisp the classic Bavarian styles I enjoy. Luckily there is a pale ale by Brooklyn Beer and their excellent 0.5% lager on tap, plus a few cans and bottles in the fridge to give beer fans a few more options.
The reason most people know The Joker though, is the fried phenomenon served up by Lost Boys Chicken. Maybe it was an ironic idea to serve fried food in a place aiming to be the areas designated cocktail bar, but it has worked bloody well. Started by guys who just loved sharing chicken with their mates, the passion comes through in their incredible small-batch produced sauces which have been revered locally for many years. My personal favourite is their mango habanero chicken burger with cheese, but come down on a 3 for 2 Wings Wednesday event and try a few of the 8 amazing sauces to find your own fave, just expect the place to be rammed.
The Joker Brighton is a fantastic spot for an intimate date, or to meet with groups of friends, the drinks options are varied, the ambience offers both a quiet afternoon drink and a location for a buzzing night out, plus for fried chicken fans it’s an absolute mecca. I think it has a kind of London pub vibe to it, there’s just a different air to other pubs in Brighton and in the local area certainly.
All these things, could be why The Joker Brighton was voted best pub in East Sussex in the National Pub & Bar Awards 2022. and this wasn’t a popularity contest either, as Pub & Bar magazine’s internal judging panel make the decision after considering various aspects of hospitality.