A Month In Food: August 2017
- Plateau, Brighton
- La Fourchette, Hove
- Petit Pois, Brighton
- Murmur, Brighton
- Little Fish Market, Hove
- Fourth & Church, Hove
- Brighton and Hove Food Festival
As my regular readers will know, I didn’t get out and about much last month, immersed as I was in the launch and early weeks of Pascere restaurant. Thankfully normal gluttony has resumed and I frequented a number of new places and some old favourites.
I was honoured to serve Vincent, co-owner of Plateau at Pascere one night and rather drunkenly he commented that I hadn’t been in for a while. He mentioned that they have taken on a fantastic new chef. This was enough to remind me how much I love the place. So, one lunchtime I popped along to check out the new menu and indeed it was lovely. The crispy lamb breast was a thing of beauty and had me thinking about it for days.
La Fourchette in Second Avenue, Hove is a bit of a neighbourhood gem (if you ignore the loud bored rich men who seem to frequent the bar area) and provided a lovely midweek lunch when my mum visited. They do classic French bistro very well here and my huge piece of pan-fried hake on provencal vegetables did not disappoint.
On the subject of French cuisine, I also discovered Petit Pois, a new French small plates bistro on Ship Street. I have been back several times now trying different things on the menu. It’s divided into nibbles, the usual meat, fish, vegetables, cheese and charcuterie, the latter of which I sampled and was impressed by the quality and generosity. The goat’s cheese croquettes under the nibbles section are literally balls of goats cheese deep-fried in breadcrumbs. So if you like slightly warm, soft tangy goats cheese, like me, then these are for you. The snails and frogs legs on a neighbouring table looked great. The duck rillette was the only disappointment – bland and gloopy. A sirloin of beef was beautiful – a perfectly cooked thick strip of meat on a bed of well seasoned and wilted spinach and a couple of handmade chunky chips, crispy and fluffy. The accompanying béarnaise bringing it all together. On another occasion, a duck dish was less successful with an overly sweet sauce and a celeriac dauphinoise, which didn’t seem to taste like celeriac. My friend, however, declared her pigeon sublime giving me immediate food envy. The scallops were a nice dish as were the stuffed squid with a rich bisque (despite being accompanied by plain white rice which I thought strange). My friend Tom Flint, fellow local food reviewer had raved about the fish soup here. I will try that next time. It’s good value, casual and centrally located – and also one of the few places that serve food all day on a Saturday.
Of course, I also had to check out Murmur, the much-anticipated second restaurant from the increasingly famous Michael Bremner of 64 degrees. Despite being accompanied by my beloved cousin’s unruly children (ugh) I nevertheless enjoyed the short rib beef skewers with chilli mayonnaise and the buckwheat salad with roasted beetroot. The grilled fish looked amazing on a neighbouring table and I am definitely going back to try it. The setting is stunning, under the arches, right on the beach overlooking the west pier with the recent art installation adding extra shabby chic glamour, especially when lit up at night.
But the true highlight of the month was dinner at the Little Fish Market. Its taken me a long time to get round to visiting, despite all the huge praise and accolades. You see I am not a great fan of set menus (which is why I haven’t been to The Set yet either), I like to be able to choose what I want for my supper and I am not mad keen on still eating my dinner near midnight which can happen with long menus. But on this night I was up for it. In fact, I was feeling positively jubilant looking forward to an overdue dinner with one of my favourite people, Jeremy, himself a hotelier and lover of good food. We kicked off with a fabulous Cava, once served at the famous El Bulli, and a fine start it was too. I was hesitant about the first element of the menu, a Carlingford oyster with elderflower and jersey cream, not being a fan of oysters (I really don’t get the fuss – give me a scallop any day). I couldn’t imagine how this would work but it did. A slurpy, creamy, refreshing salty, sweet mouthful. At this moment I knew this was a chef to be utterly trusted. Next up, a miso-glazed mackerel, spring onion and yuzu mayo. Nicely charred mackerel given an umami boost courtesy of the miso. The bream next, with baby gem, tomato and sea vegetables. A perfectly cooked piece of bream, crisped skin and yielding flesh with a divine cream and oyster sauce, a nod to classic French cooking. Next up, the halibut with a crab raviolo, girolles and corn which turned out to be a beautiful sweetcorn sauce and finally dessert, a sable biscuit topped with a sphere of strawberry parfait with a clotted cream and strawberry ‘tartare’ and strawberry puree. An elegant, luxurious finish. All of this was washed down with a Chablis Premier Cru. Service was spot on. Duncan Ray, the chef-proprietor, with his impressive credentials and yet so humble, really is a local food hero.
An impromptu late lunch at Fourth & Church reminded me why I love this place so much and why it is rightly in Brighton’s top 20 best restaurants listing. The menu is regularly changing and when I visited a cauliflower dish, both pureed and roasted stood out. As did a lovely a lovely roast apricot desert with ricotta and biscotti – simple, classic. You can trust anything you order here.
The month ended with two Brighton and Hove Food Festival events back to back. First, the return leg of the chef exchange event we covered in last months issue with local chef Michael Bremner partnering with Craig Jones from Cap Maison in St Lucia for an extravagant banquet held at Hotel Du Vin. Every dish was impressive but the seared tuna dish and braised ox cheek really stood out. It was an excellent evening and exemplified the kind of event that Brighton and Hove Food Festival do so well. The following night, back at Hotel Du Vin we celebrated the launch of chef Kānthi Kiran Thamma’s new venture ‘The Spice Circuit’. Many of you will know that Kanthi found local fame co-creating the hugely popular Curry Leaf Cafe. He is now branching out on his own doing pop-ups and collaborations across Sussex (including what promises to be a superb dining event working with Chef Johnny Stanford at Pascere restaurant on 6th November – look out for details), and a South Indian luxury food tour. This event included a 5-course Indian banquet, featuring my favourites; vegetable Pakoras. The lentil dumplings and tandoori mackerel also stood out but it was all truly delicious and a sign of great things to come from Chef Kānthi and The Spice Circuit.
Phew, it certainly feels like I made up for lost time this month and as I type I’m just back from a 5-day juice fast in Somerset which has been a necessary (evil) intervention. More about that next month….
Tags: A Month In Food, Brighton, Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival, Food and Drink Reviews, Fourth and Church, Hove, La Fourchette, Little Fish Market, Michael Bremner, Murmur, Pascere, Petit Pois, Plateau, Review