Aydo Lounge - A super-smart new Turkish restaurant at Brighton Marina

A cold starter platter at Aydo Lounge and GrillA cold starter platter at Aydo Lounge and Grill
A cold starter platter at Aydo Lounge and Grill
Brighton and Hove’s dining scene prides itself on the number of independent venues which are thriving in the city and it’s always great to see a new business which really goes for it from day one.

Conditions are undoubtedly challenging for hospitality businesses but Aydo Lounge and Grill is a refreshingly glam and stylish new addition to Brighton Marina.

It’s based on the Boardwalk, which is by far the best spot in the Marina, offering views of swanky yachts, plenty of sea and sky, and swooping starlings at sunset.

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Aydo Lounge was launched last month amid the Marina’s high street heavy-hitters including Pizza Express, Five Guys and TGI Fridays.

Baklava at Aydo Lounge and GrillBaklava at Aydo Lounge and Grill
Baklava at Aydo Lounge and Grill

It’s above the quayside and inside it looks every bit as swish as the aforementioned luxury boats, gently bobbing about below.

Restaurateur Aydin Unat has clearly poured his heart and soul into his first Brighton venture and it’s looking utterly fabulous.

Aydin has made a success of running restaurants in Turkey for more than three decades, and has divided much of his time between a wife and family in BN1 and his home country.

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But now he’s going for it in Blighty, and boy is he going for it.

Shish Kebabs at Aydo Lounge and GrillShish Kebabs at Aydo Lounge and Grill
Shish Kebabs at Aydo Lounge and Grill

The place is completely unrecognisable from its previous incarnation as a rather non-descript American diner.

In an absolute contrast the interior is now full of light, space and sparkle. It’s extravagant, fun, stylish , and very much on the likeable side of glitzy.

All of the materials have come from Turkey and Aydin and his team worked on it for months before opening.

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It was worth the effort because the place is swish and thoroughly gorgeous and will undoubtedly bring to it the great and good from Brighton and beyond.

Garlic prawns at Aydo Lounge and GrillGarlic prawns at Aydo Lounge and Grill
Garlic prawns at Aydo Lounge and Grill

In fact it’s already attracted some footballing VIPs in the form of Mauricio Pochettino, and his backroom team, which at that stage still included former Brighton darling Bruno.

As a well-travelled Argentinian the Chelsea manager knows a thing or two about steaks and was presumably drawn to the Aydo’s Asado menu.

Following the footsteps of Poch we rocked up at the Aydo Lounge on a mild Thursday evening, not long after September’s slightly insane heatwave.

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We took a seat inside, but close to the venue’s huge glass frontage.

Calamari at Aydo Lounge and GrillCalamari at Aydo Lounge and Grill
Calamari at Aydo Lounge and Grill

The thoroughly ostentatious Ay-Do Special cocktail seemed the most appropriate way to start, the starry technicolour creation featured Au blue raspberry vodka, Blue Caracau, with apple juice, sweet orgeat syrup, and some nice flora and fauna on the outside of the glass for extra glamour.

My dining mate went for a slightly more straight-forward but equally attractive option – a lovely pint of Turkey’s finest grog, Efes beer.

Aydin laid on a dizzying selection of starters and seafood dishes with, naturally, a plate of puffy Turkish balloon bread.

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An eminently Instagramable cold platter more than looked the part but the tray of dips wasn’t just a pretty face.Familiar dishes like hummus and tzatziki (or at least the Turkish equivalent Cackik) were nicely done, with a tahini bite to the former and plenty of fresh cucumber in the latter.

Alongside them on the five-dish platter were lesser known but very interesting Anatolian creations, the best of which being the Pink Lady, an excellent chunky beetroot dish, which even after being mixed with mayonnaise, greek yoghurt and extra virgin olive oil still retained a good texture and hadn’t been over-blended.

The saksuka was also another good point of difference on the platter, chunkier still with soft sauteed aubergine and peppers in a fairly light garlic and tomato sauce.

Efes and Ay-Do Special at Aydo Lounge and GrillEfes and Ay-Do Special at Aydo Lounge and Grill
Efes and Ay-Do Special at Aydo Lounge and Grill

My chilli-hardened dining chum laid waste to portion of padron peppers which had been blackened and sprinkled with crystals of course salt.

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The fish at the Aydo Lounge all comes from the superb Fish (a.k.a Brighton and Newhaven Fish Sales) near Hove Lagoon, and Aydin became the latest of many Brighton and Hove restaurateurs that I’ve heard praising the supremely fresh fish and shellfish they supply.

Accordingly the calamari was elevated by that level of freshness, perfectly cooked inside a light batter and served with a very dunkable homemade tartare sauce.

The garlic prawns were plump and there were plenty of them. They’d been cooked with parsley, spring onion, a hint of chilli and much more than a hint of garlic butter, which was inevitably, but not especially daintily, mopped up with the remaining balloon bread.

So, the surf was good and two greedy, hairy carnivores were more than ready for some turf!

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These days restaurant kitchens use all sorts of hi-tech amazing grills to cook steaks and meats, but Aydin has remained loyal to a traditional charcoal grill.

He told us that he thought nothing else cooks, flavours or chars the meats as well as charcoal heat.

Our shish kebabs were definitely a good advert for keeping it simple over burning coals.

Both the lamb and chicken skewers had a satisfying char about them, the lamb was tender and the chicken didn’t have the slightest sign of dryness, and they were served with some sinful buttery white rice.

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Even after all of those super savoury dishes it would be madness to leave any good Turkish or Middle Eastern restaurant without a bit of baklava to finish, fortunately my judgement, on food if not life, is sound.

The baklava was bountiful and a sweet wonder with lord knows how many layers of syrup-soaked filo pastry and more nuts than a squirrel’s lunchbox.

My dining buddy ordered the splendidly named Aydo Bombtastic, one of those fab little chocalate puds which melts when hot salted caramel is poured on it. Another dish which is likely to find itself on a few thousand Instagram reels.

In fact you can expect to see and hear more about the Aydo Lounge and Grill in the coming weeks and months as more people discover this super-smart and high quality new restaurant.

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