Fishy Fishy, 25 East Street, Brighton

Dermot O'Leary has always shown great professional timing. His rise from youth TV to the shiny floors of Saturday night has been as smooth as the suits he wears on The X Factor. But as a first-time restaurateur, his timing is lousy. What bad luck to open a fish restaurant just as The End of the Line hits UK screens, the film which has taken tuna and cod off the menu for all right-thinking people.

Still, at least Fishy Fishy, the Brighton restaurant Dermot has co-founded with two old mates, tries hard to make fish-eating as righteous as possible: 99 per cent of the fish and shellfish served comes from the English Channel – some of it bought direct from local boats. Tuna and cod are not on offer – though coley, mackerel and herring are. Dermot himself is apparently a keen fisherman, so there's even a chance he'll stride up, wearing thigh-length waders, and slap something down on the table. Or was that just something I dreamt?

Like its owner, Fishy Fishy is unashamedly pitched at the mass market, but with a stylish twist. Sandwiched between Pret A Manger and LK Bennett on the edge of the Lanes, it's fronted by a large open-seating area, whose blue and white colour scheme looks spookily familiar. As does the menu, and the modernist lines of the conservatory dining area. Surely DNA tests on Fishy Fishy would uncover a genetic link to Fishworks, the once flourishing, now minnow-sized chain?

Inside, though, the restaurant has a laid-back charm which takes it out of chain territory. In a tall, narrow, Grade II-listed building, three plain, intimate dining rooms have been reconnected with their Regency past, with heritage blue walls, ivory wainscoting and some reclaimed mirrors and sea-themed paintings. Spindly wooden chairs and bare wooden tables add to the authentic look.

On a sunny weekday lunchtime, we ate in the conservatory, whose sliding windows open to let in some sea breezes. Radio 2-friendly background music, from Lily Allen to Dave Brubeck, enhances the holiday mood. Given the choice, I would probably have turned down the sound system when a live jazz band struck up in the square outside, creating a horrible cacophony, but hey, Dermot's the DJ.

The brasserie-style menu is long on choice and short on fancy cooking. There's local crab and lobster; mussels – served marinières, Provençal or Thai-style; Dorset rock oysters at a pound a pop; chargrilled mackerel with citrus butter; and a smattering of meaty and veggie options. The word "local" appears all over the menu – even attached to the calamari. Who knew there were squid in the English channel?

Compelled by some repulsion/fascination towards ordering the horribly named Brightonbaisse, I was rewarded with a well-made soup with an authentic Provençal depth of flavour. Toasted bread and ramekins of rouille, emmental, etc, were all present and correct, even if purists might argue that it wasn't a true bouillabaisse.

Other dishes were consistently good, and the fish notably fresh. Fish and chips used pollock as a very acceptable cod substitute, with impeccably crisp batter and skinny chips that had real fish shop personality. Stir-fried squid exploded in a riot of very un-local flavours, with lime, ginger and garlic battling it out with chilli heat. Grilled wild sea bass and a daily special of turbot were both simply and properly cooked, even if my guest dubbed hers Turbot O'Leary, since it looked good, but was just slightly smaller than she was expecting.

The consistency of the cooking faltered only with a pear tarte tatin, heavy of pastry and mushy of pear. "That wasn't very good," my friend said, licking her plate. With a glass of Muscadet from a short and appealing wine list priced at under £35 a bottle, we paid around £30 a head. Service started off a bit Simon Cowell, but was crisp and well-informed.

Dermot has gone on the record as saying that Fishy Fishy isn't going to be rolled out into a chain, that it's designed to be strictly coastal and local. Which is heartening to hear, from someone whose day job sees him toiling on a global TV franchise controlled by the evil emperor of brand extension. He has also said he'll occasionally be working front of house in the restaurant, which sounds like a brilliant TV format in itself.

Brighton foodies have long complained that they don't have enough decent restaurants. Fishy Fishy is a decent mid-market alternative to the existing seafood restaurants, English's and Riddle and Finns. I can imagine that its snug little dining rooms will be a really attractive prospect in winter.

As they say on The X Factor, Dermot, you're going through.

Fishy Fishy, 25 East Street, Brighton (01273 723750)

Food 3 stars
Ambience 3 stars
Service 3 stars

Around £35 a head for three courses

Tipping policy: "Fishy Fishy is the only Brighton restaurant signed up to the Fair Tips Charter. Staff keep all the tips they earn with no deductions. Discretionary service charge only applies to parties over 8; staff keep all of this too"

Side Orders: Making waves

Kishorn Seafood Bar

The views over to Skye are as invigorating as the seafood here; don't miss the cullen skink (£3.75) and squat lobster tails (£6.25).

Strathcarron, Ross, Scotland (01520 733240)

J Sheekey

Favourites at this glamorous fish restaurant include lobster mayonnaise and Cornish fish stew.

28-32 St Martin's Court, London WC2 (020-7240 2565)

Hix Oyster & Fish House

Mark Hix has made waves with his second eponymous restaurant. Try the wolf fish with soft roes, shrimps and capers (£15.50).

Cobb Road, Lyme Regis, Dorset (01297 446 910)

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering