REVIEW: The Ivy in the Lanes, Brighton


Good God, and you thought I got worked up about the interior design of restaurants (and one dear friend even told me to cool my sexy tile obsession in reviews). But the social feeds have been pumping out screaming admiration for the arrival of Brighton's The Ivy branch.


Sat here, I have to say it's rather hard to compose myself, you don't know where to look. My heart is beating and I want to drink it in, it's an interior triumph of botanical, gilded, colourfulness in all of its elegant campness. Like the couture version of Margarita Pracatan has exploded on the walls, but in a good way. And if there was ever a toilet to be celebrated, then this is it. I can't vouch for the gents, but the ladies powder room, containing eight camera happy lifestyle bloggers at any given time, is something else. A circular, blush banquette sofa sits in the middle with gleaming tiles, oriental gold leaf walls, small pouffes in jewel colours on which to sit and touch up make up. Each WC has a pink marble sink for company. There is nothing like it in Brighton, nothing.

What? Sorry, you want to hear about the food?  Right then...

The Ivy is a handy all-day catch all, starting with breakfast and brunch which I will most certainly be returning for, but what's a review of fancy scrambled eggs going to tell you?

Afternoon tea here would also be a perfect treat, a gorgeous event to do with a gaggle of girlfriends or your dear mum. And at almost half the price of The Grand too. Did I mention the gold, geometric chandeliers?

But dinner is where you can really try out the cooking, and the surprisingly reasonable prices continue here as well.

The menu itself is vast, with a crowd pleasing mash up of dishes; simple, classics like prawn cocktails, duck liver parfait, smoked salmon, fish & chips, steaks and burgers to influences from India, Italy and Japan.


We started with truffle arancini and spiced olives to settle in with our cocktails (which were excellent and with Matt Ottley, former bar manager of The Salt Room taking control, they would be). Served in a silver bowl and lovingly wrapped in a cloth napkin, the arancini were nicely made, their bijoux size taking a little of the natural softness and squidginess away from them, and as ever, I could have done with a bigger hit of truffle, but they were perfect to nibble on whilst navigating the vast menu.



A good start was the delicate tuna carpaccio; topped with tomato, watermelon and an Eastern twist with ponzu dressing and sesame. My crispy duck salad had plenty of textural interest, toasted cashews, watermelon and paper thin mouli slices. I would say that reheated fatty meats like this suffer in flavour, particularly duck which can take on a pungency, as this did.


For mains, I chose a blackened cod; sticky, sweet and succulent, sat on top of the banana leaf it was baked in and I enjoyed a lot. It was simply served with half of a lightly blanched pal choi and yuzu mayo. I probably should have taken up the offer of a side of something starchy for a more filling dinner but that was my fault entirely for not heeding the waitress' advice.


The special was a juicy swordfish steak, cooked with the merest kiss of heat served with chimichurri and romanesco sauces, and a substantial fregola salad. This was tailored to a dairy free diet and I would say staff swerved that issue effortlessly, checking with the kitchen and being particularly attentive in suggesting options.


Desserts again generally favour the classics; Crème brûlée, apple tart, panna cotta. Although the flourless cappuccino cake or the cheese are more my bag to end a meal, I took the offer to try the Ivy statement dessert - a chocolate bombe. A perfect spherical chocolate shell arrived which was filled with vanilla ice-cream and honeycomb onto which hot salted caramel sauce is poured. (Expect around 600 Instagram boomerangs of this to appear on your feeds by next month.) For me too rich, too sweet, too much and I think there was popping candy thrown in for good measure, but hey, I'm in the minority with my lack of enthusiasm for chocolate desserts. Order it, you'll love it I'm sure.


The bottle of chablis was elegant and light, and a good choice for the food but the cocktail menu was too good to leave without one for the road. Laughing in the face of health and safety, my Pavilion Passion contained a passion fruit shell filled with overproof rum (that's means bastard strong to you and me) which was set fire to at the table with some theatre. No velveteen sofas were harmed, thankfully.

Yes, The Ivy is a chain, and yes in Brighton we get sniffy about it all but the venue is the enormous site the old post Office in Ship Street used to be. The rates would have been hair raising and prohibitive to our darling indies. Half the people will be quick to judge this as a vacuous tart of a restaurant whilst the other half will be happy enough taking selfies in the loo (guilteee) and fawning over the decor. And it could have been a TGI Fridays for goodness sake. Ain't no gold leaf and pink pouffes to be had with that brand people.

Is it the best food in town? No, not at all. The creative quality of the city's food will continue to rise in our outstanding independents. But there's nothing wrong with the paired back simplicity of it all here and you will eat well. Would I come back? Absolutely. For brunch, tea, lunch, dinner and cocktails; hell, maybe all in one day. This is very much the experience end of the dining scale where great drinks, smart staff and beautiful surroundings make the visit as much as you grilled half lobster or French dip steak sarnie. Diversity is what makes this place Brighton. The Ivy has its place and feels very much at home here. Darling, it's fabulous.


The Ivy in the Lanes
51a Ship Street,
Brighton
BN1 1AF

I dined as a guest of The Ivy. Words and thoughts, as always, my own.

Exploring the Goodwood Estate

As I fired the bullet from the Beretta, I had to acknowledge the fact that this blog has led me to some pretty unexpected situations. But here we all are.


Goodwood. To me, it was a fancy country house and a place that Chris Evans bangs on about A LOT. Something to do with really fast cars. In this instalment of Get Fran Out Of Brighton, I travelled down to discover this estate is far, far more than a riche playground for boys and their toys.

The Kennels

Beautifully ("beautiful" will be overused in this post) furnished and comfortably elegant, The Kennels is the central clubhouse for the estate's sporting members. But even if the idea of sport fills you with horror, social membership is available where you can work, rest, eat and drink. I was so surprised with the fee starting at just £180, which has plenty of additional benefits including access to some wonderful events. Had this been a shorter distance, I would have immediately snapped this up as my new office space, all with a view of Goodwood House, excellent food and a fine gin and tonic. More info.


Afternoon Tea

I think most people would be impressed with afternoon tea in the Goodwood House Ballroom. It's a sumptuous space, walls lined with an outstanding art collection and luxurious furnishings. Again, you'll be surprised with the price tag too; just £25 per person with a tour of the house included, making for a lovely gift and just as good as many others I've had a twice the cost. And it was a very good afternoon tea too with the freshest of finger sandwiches, crumbly scones and a delicious variety of jewel-like cakes. More info here.


Clay Pigeon shooting

I've always wanted to try this but was worried little ol' me couldn't quite handle the weight of the gun and I wouldn't say coordination was a strength of mine. However, following bacon sandwiches and a thorough briefing in the wood lodge, again furnished beautifully and so cosy, we were soon outside taking our first shots. Beginners need not be worried, everything was explained, techniques and tips given, and before long, most of us were hitting the clays, our delighted squeals echoing around the pit. The Beretta was actually quite easy to hold, lighter than expected and the kick back not too bad at all. I left very keen on shooting again, it really was great fun, made so by how good the tuition was. Tailored packages are available to suit beginners or seasoned pros, starting from £144pp. More info


Hound Lodge

I was slightly beside myself with a visit to Hound Lodge, an exquisite 10 bed property, formerly the dog kennels, that you can hire in its entirety for a cool £10,000 a night. However this includes a butler, maid and chef, your food and drink, which when you do the math on potentially 20 guests, isn't too bad at all. The attention to detail was impeccable, from the bedding stuffed with wool from the estate's sheep, to the fragrant floral arrangements in every single room. It had everything you could possibly want, including a fully stocked bar for the party of your life. I was very close to locking myself in the stunning master bathroom and refusing to come out. Book it here (and invite me).


Waterbeach Treatment Rooms

It was during my neck and back massage in the spa, I was mentally rebranding my entire blog to that of a lifestyle one. I could sure get used to this! The Elemis and Elemental Herbology products they use in their treatments are gorgeous.  Have a look at the treatments.



Personal Training

Goodwood Health Club is well equipped, modern and, as I was now expecting, came with the best of personal trainers. A year ago this would have probably had me running away but I have caught the fitness bug so it was a privilege to have been offered a training session with double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton OBE. I've used PTs before and not new to weight training, but I particularly enjoyed the session; informative, effective and fun, as fitness should be, and Sarah was just lovely. I came away from even this first session with tips and exercises to incorporate into my routine. Along with the gym and PT sessions there is a programme of fitness classes, garden studio, a swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms. More info.

Horse Racing

Returning another day to Goodwood racecourse, I couldn't recall ever going to the races before, but had such a great time. It was the Festival of Food and Racing with a farmer's market, cooking demos, a gin garden and plenty more. Having a combination day like this is ideal if you are new to it, and a smart way of introducing a new audience to the track, but any excuse to get dressed up and drink Pimms in the sun will get my vote. There are upcoming racing events that merge with hops, music and family fun. And not all at once.  See the race day events for this year here.


It's nice to leave wanting to spend more time in a place; there's clearly a lot to do and enjoy on the estate, even more than I had seen or experienced and just an hour from Brighton. Flying packages, motor racing, golfing and their famous events like Goodwood Revival and The Festival of Speed. It sure is a playground for all.

And I'll be returning soon to dine in their truly sustainable restaurant Farmer, Butcher, Chef which uses produce from their self-sustaining farm.

Sigh, glorious, glorious Goodwood indeed.

Visit goodwood.com for upcoming events and memberships.

I attended as a guest of Goodwood. Words and thoughts, as always, my own. 

REVIEW: The Urchin pub, Brighton and Hove


The Urchin has been on my radar a while, with their unique shellfish based menu (for a pub around these parts) and a brilliant selection of craft beer. I've probably not yet been because there's enough to keep me busy east of Palmeira Square these days, I've got a lot on my plate, literally. However, I'm really interested in the alternative Sunday roast. As lovely as a classic roast is, we're seeing more options cropping up the city's pubs and the former isn't something I would dine out for, seeing is very much as a family meal at home. There are people doing the roast so well here, and there is of course a huge demand still, but variety is the spice and all.

The Urchin serve up an impressive looking paella on the Sunday and that's enough for me to foot the 3.5 mile walk in the sunshine to work an appetite up for.



It is particularly gorgeous for a pub. Muted greys and a contemporary nautical influence all around, it feels very much at home here by the sea and has a lovely garden area. You'll see the enormous selection of craft beer by the bar, thoughtfully placed where you can grab the bottles and have a good look before deciding.



For me my visit was the day after the one before so some bloody Marys were in order, swiftly followed by rock oysters and salt and pepper squid, cut on the long side. This gave great mouth feel (I still have not found a better way to describe that, it makes me cringe) rather than biting into rings. Regardless, the squid was tender and the coating perfectly crisp.



My wibbly scallops along with the coral, served simply with lemon and chives made them a masterpiece of themselves. Normally, I shy away from the coral, I actually don't like the gnarly end of seafood in general, but I ate the lot, cooked so the texture was perfect and the butter and citrus enhanced the clean sweetness of hero ingredient.

I also appreciated a decent portion of bread, from our wonderful Flour Pot Bakery, served in large wedges with either balsamic and oil or butter.



Onto the main show though, the paella, was a visual treat, uncovered at the table for a bit of theatre. Under the foil hid a colourful display of king prawns, mussels and cleverly, the tips of the squid, which looked lovely and a smart avoidance of food waste. The rice had the ideal bite and for me, the essential bit of a paella is the crisp edges, which luckily, this didn't lack. I would have like a little more piquant hit from smoked paprika and wedges of lemon to pep up the dish but minor points, it was still very enjoyable. The prawns were juicy and meaty; glorious to shell and get stuck in with. The sun was shining and this could not have been a more perfect dish for the day.

For desserts there is just a cheese board and a posset and they don't seem to "do" dessert here. No matter as this was one leg of a Hove food safari for me but you could end the meal with a dessert beer I'm sure they'd have like a rich, chocolatey porter.



Although, I'd come here specifically for the paella, the specials board read like a treat; langoustine ramen, goan style prawns, whole lobster and everyone around me seemed to be tucking into bowls of crab claw, prawn and chorizo gumbo eliciting a hard pang of food envy from me. Clearly I need to return to make a bigger dent in the menu.

The Urchin is a stylish pub but one with real substance in its catalogue of interesting beers and staying true to their vision with the food, rather than falling victim to the pub catch-all menu.



The Urchin
15-17 Belfast Street
Hove 
BN3 3YS

I dined as a guest of The Urchin. Words and thoughts, as always, my own.

REVIEW: Côte Brasserie, Lewes


Ah, the chains, the chains. Nothing seems to divide diners more. (Brighton Taco Bell gate, I'm looking at you.) Although I do tend to stick to the indies, I've made no secret for my love of Côte. The Brighton branch is a particular gem, housed in the most beautiful, lofty building that used to be a music library (and yeah, I'm old enough to remember it being open). But made all the more splendid with Cote's signature interior of brass rails, gold leaf, generous booths, good lighting and bistro style seating.



I popped up to Lewes to visit the new branch, and it seems they have an eye for feature buildings. Formerly a bank, a few of the original mouldings seem to be in tact and the Côte design has translated beautifully. But a restaurant, chain or not, can't survive on sexy tiles alone. I've always loved the accessible, classic French Brasserie food here; char grilled chicken, nicoise salads, beef bourguigon and of course, steak frites. Uncomplicated, refined comfort food in a decent setting with great service and sensible pricing. What's not to like?

There's a certain comfort in the chains too, we are all but creatures of habit at heart, particularly with food, and maybe once you've had kids, parents tend to gravitate to them. They offer a safe haven where you won't be judged (not to your face anyway) by some haughty waiter as one of your kids shoves a green bean up their nose or gets hangry 0.25 seconds after taking their seat. You know they'll be good baby changing facilities, high chairs and that the kids will be catered for well, all with an air of slight anonymity so that if it all does go wonky, you won't be barred for life. Now there is a market for Pizza Hut, Maccy Ds and the like, but it's not food I want to eat, or, in honestly, food I want my kids to eat. And they don't. After a golden arch party, my 6 year old asked if I was going to cook him a proper meal when we got home. And that's not intended as a snobby remark, each to their own, I just want to transfer the food and restaurant culture I've had onward which seems to have weaved its way in. My two appreciate dining out, being allowed to choose from the menu and are quite happy sitting at a table for a couple of hours, so I want to take them to a place I want to eat in too. The independent restaurants are cottoning on too, I'm seeing less chips and sausages and more of a focus on tailored, simpler dishes which still suit the main menu, some of them even go as far to offer the children's meal for free with a paying adult.

For a chain, Côte fits my bill perfectly for dining with children - there's a good choice for them, and I don't have to eat doughballs. Win win. This was never intended to be a review for dining with kids, in fact, I've eaten at this chain plenty of times and never brought them with me before, but here we all find ourselves. If you haven't got little ones, this is of course still a good choice and don't worry, the restaurant isn't overrun with them either. (I get you, I couldn't stand them before I had my own!)



We started with a nice variety of charcuterie; tender smoked duck breast, well seasoned saucisson and jambon de Savoie. There was chunky char grilled bread to slather duck rilettes on. The mixed leaf salad, such an overlooked accoutrement was piquant with pickles and shallots, ideal for the meats.



Calimari is a must-order for us, here tender and coated in crisp panko breadcrumbs with enough garlic to make you uneasy about kissing for the rest of the day. With wedges of lemon and a decent tartare, they challenged our family bond as we all scrabbled for our fair share.

I know the steak frites are good here, it's my staple order but forced myself to order something else and it didn't disappoint. The sweetness of my roast seabass was enhanced with huge hunks of braised fennel and a silky buerre blanc, dotted with tomato concasse (fancy for peeled and neatly chopped). Again, this dish is exactly why I like the place; tasty bistro food to enjoy with a decent glass of wine. There's a time and a place for thought provoking, creative food, but more often than not we want to get stuck in and savour. No one in their right mind would order Sound of The Sea for their death row meal now would they?



On the other side of the table the kids were tucking into smaller portions of char grilled Breton chicken and fish goujons, green beans and those perfectly thin and crisp frites. Yes, this is middle class fish fingers and chicken and chips but done well with quality ingredients and food I feel good about them eating. My 3 year old gave the waitress a thumbs up when asked if all was ok with the meal, so clearly went down well for all. I'll work on the child's manners next.



Desserts looked to the French classics too; chocolate fondants and mousse, apple or lemon tarts, crepes, and creme brûlée. Sadly feeling far too full for any of that, and looking longingly at the pain perdu special, I had the lighter option of frozen berries with warm white chocolate which was delineate but a sweet punctuation to a good meal.

Naturally, individual scoops of chocolate ice cream followed for the kids, I'm not a complete killjoy.

I often wondered if I like Côte so much as I have a real love for the stylish environment and building of the restaurant in Brighton but no, the food is always predictably enjoyable. Catching up with some Lewes friends after in the nearby Southover Grange Gardens (I bloody love a formal garden) they said the chain had been well received locally and was often bustling. I've always perceived Lewes residents to be a tough crowd and fiercely indie (I've read the Lewes Forum - crikey) so it speaks volumes that this branch is clearly at home here.



Côte Brasserie
82 High St
Lewes BN7 1XW

I dined as a guest of Côte Brasserie. Words and thoughts, as always, my own.

EVENT: Brighton Wine Week: FoodLab


Brighton seems to be a hub of cooking talent at the moment, with the top restaurants bidding for diners attention with increasing creativity. One of the hottest food events in town has been the Brighton Food & Drink Festival's FoodLab event; where top local chefs worked with some of the area's best producers to create spectacular one off dishes. Understandably, it's always sold out.

This year, for the new Brighton Wine Week, it was the turn of the young chefs (under 26) to showcase their talent in the FoodLab. Hosted at Etch, which was perfect, it made for one of the best lunches I've had in a while.

Seeing as it's a one-off, this isn't a review; just a showcase of the event and the excellent dishes we were treated to. But if you can, definitely look this event up in the next festival in Autumn (6th-16th September) which seems to be growing year on year, with a number of additional side events like this. Book early!

Before that though is Brighton Cocktail Week - grab a £10 wristband then go on a crawl of over 30 bars and restaurants in the city who'll be offering a BCW cocktail for £5 to wristband holders. There are also plenty of food matching and masterclasses on that week too - see the Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival site for more details. The cocktail fusion collaboration at La Choza, Boho Gelato frozen dinner and historical feast and cocktails inspired by female food writers of the 20s and 30s all look particularly awesome.


Isobel Humbey | The Salt Room X Red Roaster
Isobel set the bar high with pork belly, octopus and blood orange with Red Roaster coffee and black pudding crumb served with a shot of coffee bean butter washed vodka.


Sam Watson | Ginger Fox X Ridgeview
Probably dish of the day for me was this crab tortellini, braised fennel and mussel and Ridgeview Chardonnay broth, perfect with the gentle acidity of the accompanying glass of Ridgeview Bloomsbury.


Eliott Buchet | Jeremy’s Restaurant X Bedlam Brewery
This was very clever, using all the elements of beer production from Bedlam Brewery. Braised pig cheek, salt baked yellow beetroot with malt, red beetroot fermented with yeast, spherical beer pearls and a malt tuille.


Jackson Heron | 64 Degrees X Trenchmore Farm
It was very ballsy to serve something that looks so low-key and based on a kebab shop sarnie in this setting, but using sublime Sussex-wagyu cross beef from Trenchmore Farm, it hit the taste mark square on.


George Thomas | Issac At X La Cave A Fromage
Sour apple gel, candied walnuts and poached apple with a goat's cheese ice-cream proves that classic flavours are hard to beat.


Michael Notman-Watt | 64 Degrees X Blackdown Spirits
Not much to look at, but I loved the boozy ice-cream sandwich served with a gently spiced rhubarb lassi in this gin & juice concept dish.

George Boarer | Etch X Wobblegate
An ideal end to the meal was this fresh jelly and panna cotta using Wobblegate's Bramley juice and a brilliant Cox and Bramley sorbet.


Shout out to Seb Cole from Boho Gelato who made the most delicious apple and liquorice sorbet cocktail to kick the dinner off - you know when a drink ends and you're sad (in a good way, not a wino way)...yeah, that.


I dined as a guest of Brighton & Hove Food and Drink Festival. Words and thoughts, as always, my own. 

PRODUCT REVIEW: The Kari Club recipe box



I've reviewed a number of recipe boxes over the years with varying success, but on the whole, it's been a positive experience. The ones I've enjoyed the most though are those that bring a cultural edge, transporting me to a far flung edges of the World with unusual ingredients and lesser known recipes.

Aside from the nicely designed presentation (obvs), what made a particularly good first impression with The Kari Club, a new Brighton-based Indian recipe box subscription service, was the cooking sheet taught me a number of things on page one even before I turned on the hob:
  • "Curry" is Anglicised from the Tamil work "Kari" meaning sauce. Noted for the next pub quiz.
  • I've never washed basmati rice but you need to do it quite excessively, and it really makes a difference. Doh!
  • It's best to scrape the skin of the ginger with a spoon rather than peeling/chopping it off it as the sweetest part is just under the skin.
  • Blending cashews is a really easy way to thicken a curry sauce and add silkiness.
Another was that this particular recipe was based on one of Founder, Minesh Angihotri mother's. I think we can watch celebrity chefs on the TV until the cows come home, but you will learn the real gold from mums (my ex-mother-in-law and her Walkers crisps topped tuna bake aside, of course). There are also some well produced videos on their website, pretty much a cook-along, to help.



Recipes are written (when he's not pinching from his mum) by Minesh, who is behind the well regarded Brighton restaurant, Indian Summer. On the menu in this box was Mamaji's Chicken, Sweet Potato & Carro Thoran, rice and chapati.

I really enjoyed making this - I felt I learnt a lot and was slightly more challenging than some other recipe boxes. Not that that's a negative, it's just some don't really feel like cooking, just assembling and are very pedestrian. This showed good use of spicing throughout stages and the bread element was a new thing learned - I won't be impressing any Indian mammas with the shape anytime soon but bye bye supermarket chapati.

It took around an hour too cook with reading through all the ingredients and watching the videos (optional but really helps). I did cook the elements simultaneously but I cook a lot and imagine you'd get a bit flustered if you didn't. But there's no reason not to take it at a more leisurely pace and enjoy the process.

Only negative was the oil quantities you could possibly get wrong - you could tip the "remaining oil" in the thoran but you'd need some for the chapati and rice later on.

The design is really nice; simple, clear and the tips in red throughout the recipe sheets handy. Ingredients were excellent in terms of quality. Meat from Handcross butchers, tomatoes that smelt good and spices far more vibrant than your dusty supermarket versions. The kit came with a full recipe so you are free to recreate it yourself, which I will be certainly doing.

And the best bit. Darn, darn it was delicious. Certainly restaurant grade delicious. Cook it for a crowd and they'll be talking about it for weeks delicious. It was such a rich, luscious and fragrant thing to eat; all the elements worked perfectly. The curry itself was silky and you got a real sense of all the spices. I adored the textural crunch from the thoran and the fact it lightened a heavy meal.



Prices are not too bad for what this is; you can buy a one off for £20 for 1, £25 for 2 and £40 for 4 people and would make an easy dinner party option to impress for the latter - it's restaurant grade food and for £10 a head that's remarkable. You can also go for a monthly subscription.

Portion-wise this two portion box would feed two handsomely or three sensibly, so is very generous. Expect some left overs or next day if you can resist.

Let's face it, it's not a sustainable way to shop everyday, financially or environmentally (even though the packaging was almost entirely recyclable) yet the format of recipe boxes tend to prove popular for a number of reasons. Less food waste in many respects, but number one is that they tend to take you out of your cooking comfort zone, yet guide you through it, and it's pretty exciting unpacking a kit for a meal. Well for me anyway.

Delivery is nationwide. For more information visit thekariclub.com

I was sent a sample box for review. Word and thoughts, as always, my own.

REVIEW: The Set Bar, Brighton


Now three years old, The Set has proved a steady contender in Brighton's restaurant scene, and has been good at adjusting and responding to the ebb and flow of local dining demands. The space, housed inside the achingly trendy Artist's Residence Hotel, now occupies the entire ground floor level and has been divided into The Set Restaurant (the original restaurant that is still serving a choice of three set menus), The Fix bar (formerly The Cocktail Shack), and The Set Bar. The latter is where I'm dining; a casual space offering breakfasts and brunches such as Arnold Bennet, pig cheek on toast, crab and eggs until noon then a tapas style menu until evening.

I've always loved the feel of the place, it's one of the cooler spots in Brighton for sure, slightly edgy, casual but stylish. I have already made good use of the new bar area and although a bit of a squeeze in the layout, is very much worth a visit. Cocktails seem to be sippers, very strong, very dangerous but have a unique twist to them. If you are dining then make time for an aperitif here first. 


Divided into hot and cold dishes, there is a decent selection to choose from on the evening tapas menu, or small plates, whatever...Dishes are tiny, but prices hover around the £4-5 mark so you can afford to make a good dent in the menu. The food is more stripped and simpler than the restaurant menus but the influence, obviously, is present.


I enjoyed all of the savoury dishes. The pillowy focaccia was delicious; served with a chunky bacon jam that had sweetness and stickiness in abundance. 

There is a good range of Moons Green Farm Charcuterie, sadly the Boozy Rabbit was sold out but the Wild Fennel Saucisson reminded me of the proper, well cured salami my family used to make. Exactly as I like it; dryer, chewy in a good way and fragrant with fennel. 

The potato dish may have seemed boring but was anything but. Roast potatoes, the innards blitzed to a puree with buttermilk and the skins deep-fried, served with a vibrant herb oil to lift the dish. 


Pig cheeks are a favourite and this gelatious, marmitey hunk was cooked beautifully, collapsing at the mere sight of the fork. Served simply on hummus, I'd highly recommend it. 


I had to Google Alexander buds (I'll save you the effort - it's a flowering plant which grows on cliff tops and in seaside hedgerows, first introduced to the UK by the Romans) cooked and dressed with a decent squeeze of lemon and hollandaise sauce, they were lovely. Also good on the vegetable front were charred leeks (above).

Trout tartare was served in a very fine, crisp pastry with teeny cubes of cucumber and herbs for freshness and to cut through the oiliness of the fish. 


Of course, I had to order the squid burger in its dramatic black bun. The squid was butter tender and the wild garlic aioli a great sauce option for it. 


We probably chose badly on the desserts; the malted marshmallows and rhubarb cheesecake probably better and although the madeleines had a nice gently tang of orange running through them, I'd have preferred them in the afternoon with a cuppa than for dessert. Chocolate I'm never going to want to end a meal with but if I'm ever sharing food, the other person is always going to order it. The chocolate mouse balls coated in a crisp chocolate layer and served with caramel would satisfy a chocaholic I imagine, but for me the ruthless sweetness of it all is too much. 


The wine list has had a good deal of thought put into it, and staff seem very knowledgeable about them, choosing us wines by the glass that were all ideal with the food. Service in general is on the good side of cool too. 

The Set Bar in the evening is handy if you are in The Fix and get hungry and just want a few dishes to nibble on. I would say for a full meal you'll need at least 10 dishes between two, maybe more. For lunch it's a good choice and less would suffice. 

For a stylish meal and one of the better spots in Brighton, The Set Bar is a decent option that's lighter on the wallet than it's bigger brother next door. I think it's a good use of the space and I like how adaptable the whole venue is depending on what sort of evening you are in the mood for.

The Set Restaurant / The Fix /The Set Bar
Artist Residence Hotel
33 Regency Square
Brighton BN1 2GG


I dined as a guest of The Set Bar. Words and thoughts, as always, my own.