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A Month In Food: March 2017

Featuring:

  • Pascere, Brighton
  • Etch., Hove
  • Red Roaster, Kemptown
  • Plateau, Brighton

 


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From a consumption point of view March has been relatively low key. But in all other respects it’s been huge.

I picked up the keys to my new restaurant you see.

This marked the first milestone in what has been a 14 -month journey to find and secure exactly the right premises to house my vision and fulfil a lifelong dream.

With its location, right in the heart of The Lanes, finally I get to contribute to the thriving gastronomic heart of the city that I have loved for so long. It has been exhilarating to learn about the industry from this new perspective. I have spent many hours tasting coffee, sampling wines, menu planning, interviewing staff, choosing designs, and trying not to spend a fortune on kitchen equipment (impossible). It’s been both joyous and fascinating, with a little bit of terrifying thrown in for good measure. I’ll keep you posted on my progress, warts and all.

 

So, what have I been eating?

The real highlight of the month was the launch of etch. Restaurant, the much-anticipated first restaurant of MasterChef: The Professionals’ 2013 winner Steven Edwards.

I enjoyed eight courses of precise cooking and presentation. I had been looking forward to the marmite brioche and seaweed butter all week. This ingenious and addictive delight is on my list of best things to eat in Brighton (read it here).

etch.:
Canapes

Canapés included a mini mushroom doughnut, intense yet light, and homemade mini cheese shortbread with cream cheese topping. Other highlights were; salmon with onion three ways. Perfectly cooked tiny fillets of salmon, pink in the middle with crisped skin, accompanied by deep fried mini onion rings, lightly pickled onions stuffed with an onion cream.

etch.:
Scallop

Another dish – a perfectly caramelised scallop sat on a bed of squid ink black rice and squid ink tapioca crisp – a kind of modern, deconstructed paella, clever and tasty.

etch.:
Pork

Things turned meaty with a dish of pork belly with a pork cheek croquette, sitting on a celeriac disc and a dark rich jus with a pork scratching ‘crumb’. This was a beautiful exercise in pork but would have benefitted from more of the jus and a little more seasoning in the croquette.

etch.:
Guinea Fowl

Then came my favourite dish – guinea fowl with a charred gem lettuce and an l intense chickeny jus. Such a simple dish, perfectly cooked breast meat with crispy skin, the thigh cooked slowly (confit I think) and made into a pave. This dish really epitomizes Steve’s style – simple seasonal elements all cooked in a way that brings out the best of the ingredients. No mucking about just good clean flavours.

etch.:
Rhubarb and Custard

 

Service was mostly great with a charming front of house team and a slick operation.

There were no signs of the teething problems that you so often get with new openings (note to self), a real achievement. Steve himself was ever present, circulating and chatting to guests. He is a genuinely humble, charming and talented chef (you can read my interview with him here)

 

The other major recent new opening has been the reinvented Red Roaster/Pike and Pine, headed up my Michelin starred and Great British Menu winner Matt Gillan.

I am yet to try the evening Pike and Pine menu but the daytime brunch menu is impressive and it’s a stunning space (at the bottom of St James’s near the level) with, as you’d expect, good coffee. Look out for my interview with Matt in the coming months.

 

Plateau:
Bream and Squid Ink Gnocchi

And of course Plateau are still impressing me – a simple lunch of pan fried sea bream, crispy squid ink gnocchi, crispy squid, samphire and bisque was totally divine.

I ended the month at Babington House in Frome, Somerset, an almost annual pilgrimage for me and a place that has more than inspired my restaurant venture. More about all of that next month.

 

Featured Image: Photo Credit: etch. Restaurant, Red Roaster and Plateau

 


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