Mystery Diner: The Cyclist Review
The Cyclist Refreshment Room – Brighton Train Station
It’s so nice to try somewhere a little different, don’t you think? The Cyclist is a refreshing alternative (pun intended) to the kind of unwelcoming boozer you used to get in railway stations, although it’s taken an even bigger step further back to the refreshment rooms of the late 1800s, when it was a comfortable place for both men and women, yes women, to grab a drink and a bite to eat before boarding their trains.
You can’t help but be bowled over by the décor – everywhere you look there’s something unusual and interesting that catches the eye; the bar constructed from old suitcases, a nod to one of the premises’ previous incarnations as a lost luggage office; the steam engine proudly displayed in a glass case and utilized as a stand-up bar; the lights sourced from European railway stations and the collection of vintage and upcycled furniture sitting alongside brightly striped upholstery and colourful prints. I could spend an age wittering on about the interior design of this place, the attention to detail is stunning, a real credit to the founders of Greenwell & Tipple, Rupert & Jo Clevely.
The manager, Ed, didn’t know we were there to review, but greeted us warmly, asking us if we were local or just visiting. He also gave us a potted history of the business and the premises and told us that the food was locally sourced and that they were a freehouse, meaning they could stock whatever beers they liked. He was genuinely pleased to talk to us and a really lovely fella to boot. The service was fast and friendly throughout – first class (another pun – geddit?)
And so to the food. We were HUNGRY and both quickly decided on burgers.
I chose a special, the Devilled Burger; a beef patty (I’m told it’s 80% prime beef and 20% fat) sourced from a butcher in Handcross, accompanied by jalapenos, wafer thin chorizo, manchego cheese, red onion, the chef’s secret recipe spiced tomato sauce and little gem lettuce on a brioche bun.
I can hand-on-heart say that this burger just made it to the No.1 spot in my favourite burger chart. It wasn’t just the sheer flavour and succulence of the meat, it was the balance of the whole thing. Perfect. This cost £10 and fries were an extra £1. Yes that’s right, they DON’T charge you an extra £3 for chips with your burger. (Though you can order them on their own or as a side with other main dishes for £2.50).
My companion opted for the Cyclist Beef Burger which comes with the same spiced tomato relish, lettuce, red onion and gherkin, with cheese as an optional extra. The burger on its own is £7, with cheese £7.50 and with chips £8.
Neither of us could fault the food, it was easily as good, if not better than any other local burger establishments’ offerings – controversial? Try it yourself. The ingredients have clearly been carefully chosen and lovingly cooked, the chef takes pride in his work. And it’s not over-priced.
To be clear, The Cyclist doesn’t just offer burgers; it has a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with daily specials too. Examples include the all-important fry up at £8, Sticky Pork Shoulder and Wasabi Peas at £6 and Mussels with Fennel and Cider at £6.50.
We mustn’t forget the drinks here – there’s a huge range of beers, ciders and wines and they do great coffees from Small Batch and cakey treats and puds too.
After experiencing the calm and comfort of the venue, the friendly service and outstanding food, I’ll definitely be back soon for dinner and will make a point of arriving early for my train at EVERY opportunity.