A sophisticated pub where The Lost Boys chicken 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 touch of elegance about them and both available for party bookings.
Summer of 2023 The Joker have gone next-level with their outdoor seating game and installed a spacious and modern terrace section to the rear of the pub attached to the games room. Upon seeing it you simply say, this is perfect, why on earth has it taken so long to do this?
The aesthetic is wood with lots of plants and A combination of built in benches, chairs and some elegant tables. We’re told the capacity is 60 for parties, but I think there’s perhaps more like 25-30 comfortable seating capacity.
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 like the classic Bavarian styles I enjoy. Luckily there is a pale ale by Brooklyn Beer and Brooklyn’s 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 Brighton 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 really 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 raved about locally for many years. My personal favourite is their mango habanero chicken burger with cheese, but why not 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 tend to think The Joker has a kind of London pub vibe to it, there’s just a different air to other pubs in Brighton.
All of these things, could be why The Joker Brighton was voted best pub in East Sussex in the National Pub & Bar Awards 2022. This wasn’t a punter popularity contest either, as Pub & Bar magazine’s internal judging panel make the decision after considering various aspects of hospitality.