REVIEW: 24 St Georges, Kemptown, Brighton

by - August 15, 2013

The last time me and Mr GF visited a restaurant on this site was probably over 10 years ago when it was Samsons, offering a decent burger before burgers got all irritatingly hipster. After that closed a few more restaurants plodded along, largely ignored and often empty, so it was a real joy to open the door to the latest occupiers, 24 St Georges, and see the stagnant old venue have life breathed into it again. The room was full of chatter and reasonably full with a good mix of couples, both young and more seasoned, as well as some small groups.

Now open for two and a half years, 24 St Georges feels like a proper restaurant. I mean that in a way that so many are going down the quirky route or concept dining, but I like simple formula and the smart yet approachable interior here. It's pitched just right with rich teal and brown colours, good lighting and artwork celebrating Brighton in a tasteful, sober way. This restaurant is HOT first date property, you do feel like you're being treated without being too formal.

We started with an aperitif, of which they have a decent suggestion list. On the recommendation of the waiter we chinked glasses filled with cucumber vodka (infused in-house), elderflower cordial and sparkling wine. Topped with a pansy, it was British Summer in a glass, delicate, floral and light, perfect to peruse the menu with.

And a fine menu it is. A good selection of dishes, most with quite complex and interesting little components, making really good reading for foodies. After plenty of deliberation I went for Duck and Cherries which was a real smile in the mind dish. The thin slither of beautifully textured smoked duck ham was surrounded by "cherries" actually made from fois gras dipped in a cherry gel. The stork was a tiny piece of fried duck skin. Very Heston Dinner but also something that ol' Prince Regent would have been serving up to his over privileged guests down the Royal Pavilion, so felt right at home on the plate here. The whole dish was fun but executed really well, the sharp little pickled radishes adding a vivid note too.

Mr GF opted for the Local Lobster; crispy lobster "croutons" with a lobster pannacotta. A fish pannacotta was a new one on me and wouldn't have been to my taste on its own, but with the crisp deep fried balls of sweet lobster and the delicate crayfish summer salad, the dish eaten as a whole was harmonious both texturally and in flavour.

My main was the Pan Fried Bass with mushroom tortellini and a thin Parma ham cannelloni. Again, really lovely, sweet flavours with a sweetcorn puree and braised fennel, with soft bass (sourced from one of the local fish mongers). The roll of cabbage supporting the bass was an unsung hero but I love a
brassica me. The only shame was that the pasta of the tortellini was very underdone, with a tough white core when torn, plunged into cold water before its time. More of a shame as it was beautifully crafted pasta, but with a busy restaurant, the minute margin of error with cooking delicate filled pasta is an easy one to slip up on. The earthy mushroom filling though was a nice contrast to the fresher flavours on the plate.

Mr GF lucked out on his Assiette of Rabbit, which was probably the best rabbit dish I've sampled (not that he let me have too much of it). The trio was a loin and Parma ham ballotine, braised leg and a pea, crayfish and rabbit bon bon. After he'd silently finished he laid down his cutlery and said" I would eat that again five times over until I couldn't eat another morsel and lie here on the floor until someone came and collected me." Well, there you have it.

I ordered the Apricot and Black olive Baked Alaska because even the thought of it was twisting my melons. It's quite possibly the most bonkers combo I've come across with only the food curious would order it. Surely it wouldn't work. The first spoonful was a let down only because i thought they'd been a bit wafty with the black olive in the ice cream and then BOOM I hit the greyish centre. Go figure - the reverse stuffed olive works in ice cream form. I still haven't worked it out but I really enjoyed the combination, along with a crunchy toasted almond brittle and apricot slices, it's a dessert that I'll be remembering for a while. I washed this down with a divine little glass of Elysium Black Muscat which was perfect with my dessert choice.

Now we're old and boring (and hangovers the following morning with a young, boisterous toddler suck), we've taken to drinking by the glass rather than the bottle and there are some decent choices with a far more extensive list by the bottle of course. 

Not the cheapest meal in town, with food setting you back around the £65 mark and with alcohol nearer £100 per couple, but I always look at dining from a value for money angle. The work gone into these dishes is far greater than the locally typical £40-60 meal. You're better off spending your hard earned cash here and you can flitter away far more on a less worthy meal too, let me tell you. However, if you are on a budget but don't want to compromise on quality, they do a staggeringly good value chef's menu at £16.95 for two courses and £19.95 for three available Tues - Thursday and Saturday until 6pm. Also, seeing as I'm so local this would be ideal to keep us popping in rather than keeping visits for special occasions. 

24 St Georges was started by two chef friends, Jamie Everton-Jones and Dean Heselden. They worked together for a while coming from the Half Moon in Lewes and then (gasp) the casino restaurant at the Marina. A stint down there would probably inspire any chef with a slither of talent to go it alone and I wholeheartedly support chef owned restaurants, particularly where they are actively cooking. This way you can be sure to get your food served up with a whole heap of passion, attention and pride. Ingredients evident in practically everything we ate at 24 St Georges. 

This is a great restaurant for locals to enjoy and revisit and also a destination dining spot for Brighton visitors, who'd be hard pushed to eat better in the centre of the city. It's in my little black book for sure.
24-25 St Georges Road
Brighton BN2 1ED

Hideous photography apologies which do not do the food any justice - lighting that is good for dining is rubbish for photography (just as it should be). 
I was invited to review 24 St Georges.

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