A vivid backstreet boozer that wouldn't be out of place in Dublin's Temple Bar
The Lion and Lobster Brighton is partly Lobster in name and totally lobster in looks. This pub has always managed to draw attention despite it’s location on the backstreets of Hove. Lion and Lobster claims to be one of Brighton’s oldest pubs dating back to the 1800s, however their notable history is more contemporary. Gary Whelan, an actor known for appearances in The Bill and Ballykissangel, ran the pub through the naughties before selling it to City Pub Company for a Brighton record £4.5M in 2014. It was again sold in 2022 as part of a 3 Brighton sale worth £16M and now run by Portobello Pub Co. Thankfully all subsequent owners have retained Lion & Lobster’s unique charm.
Now this will be a lengthy section, because the Lion and Lobster Brighton – with it’s huge floor-plan, multiple levels, different sections, and more crannies than you’ll ever have time to sit in – is probably one of the most fun pubs to explore in Brighton.
Entering the pub from the front door, the wide bar is a short stride ahead and there can often be a bit of congestion around the bar when busy. If you make your way through to the left hand-side of the bar then there is a big round table and some more tables set out small groups. To the right the tables are a little smaller and more intimate, tucked into the bay windows or nestled by the fire. There are screens dotted around in every corner and sport is shown regularly.
Follow the right-hand route through to the back and you find yourself in a much darker section with various tables and a couple more TV screens. The cinema duskiness makes it a popular spot for watching football or rugby matches. In the corner, just before you head up the stairs, there’s a narrow row of booths bathed in the dim light of a couple of lanterns. It’s a cosy little corner to hide away in.
Upstairs the bar splits into an inside and outside space. Inside there’s a really good sized dining space with a few tables and it’s own small bar. There’s one long table which allows for big groups to meet for food. This area tends to feel a little more relaxed than downstairs as there are less people bustling in and out, plus there are no TV screens.
Outside there’s a mezzenine terrace set-up. Much of the space is open to the elements and some of it is sheltered under the level above, including a really neat little corner section with another TV screen. On sunny days they also open a hatch to access the little dining room bar.
Up another flight of stairs is the top floor terrace where there is loads of bench seating and yet another screen. Why there’s a screen here I’ve never understood as I have sat 2 metres away on a sunny day and still not been able to properly see what’s on it because of the glare. But the fact it’s there is cool none-the-less and takes the tally up to 6. On this top floor, the huge wall opposite the TV screen sports a huge Guinness mural. No doubt this is related to the previous owner, Gary Whelan’s Dublin heritage.
The decor throughout generally plays to the history of the pub rather than trying to be contemporary. Wallpapered walls, fireplaces, period lighting, and a myriad of framed photos, maps, articles, adverts and more. Top to bottom this pub really would not be out of place in Dublin’s Temple Bar.
The variety of ales and locally brewed beer on offer here gives beer fans lots of choice.
We spotted at least 5 cask options on last visit from brewers such as: Harvey’s, Dark Star and 360, as well as a couple of proper cask ciders.
Local brewers are often on the taps as well, with Gun Brewery and Big Hug available last time along with your typical lager brands and a couple of Guinness taps.
I also noticed lots of beers from Portobello Brewery in West London, including a very enjoyable Helles. I’ve never seen this breweryin town before, but it makes sense when you realise Portobello Pub Co are the current owners.
Lion and Lobster Brighton have an extensive weekday Menu of gourmet sounding dishes served throughout the week. Prices are certainly typical for central Brighton. On Sundays people flock to Lion and Lobster for the Sunday roasts which are really plentiful. I’ve eaten the roasts many times and always been very full and very satisfied.
The weekly calendar is rarely empty here with Mondy quizzes, open mics twice a month, and ocasaional Friday and Sunday live music.
Somehow Lion & Lobster Brighton manages to harmoniously offer everything you might need from a pub: comfortable decor and sun terraces; sports screens everywhere plus a traditional restaurant, family-friendly dining and evening entertainment; pokey nooks alongside big tables for groups. It’s your comfortable and friendly backstreet local, while buzzing with the kind of nightlife energy you’d hope to find in the centre of town.
Very few pubs manage to offer so much in one place and this pubs goes down as one of Brighton’s must sees.