Our usual incessant nattering (sorry to anyone who ever sits near us) was hushed to silence throughout mains, and across the table, Mr. GF was also a happy chap. I really liked the grotesque theatre of the single leg sticking up on the plate of his partridge dish. This little leg was stuffed and wrapped in ham with the sweet breasts simply roasted. Emmer wheat is something we eat a lot of but it's called farro to us Italians and is a fantastic, toothsome, nutty grain, ideal with game. The broccoli stems, as I've had before at Drakes were very al dente. I love it, those with dentures maybe less so!
Wines were well chosen for us. I don't see the issue of drinking reds with pork if there are robust flavours on the plate and the wine isn't too heavy. I liked my Little Beauty Pinot Noir and the name was a bonus too. Mr GF however, prefers to practically chew on his wine. It needs to be rich, full, smoky and heady. The wine list was sensible with half bottles and plenty of wines by the glass. I was a little surprised to see so few Sussex wines though with just one sparkling from the Bluebell Vineyard Estate.
Pre-desserts were a nice touch with a fresh clementine jelly layered with vanilla panna cotta.
I'm not a sweet toothed person so the tartness of the Brillat-Savarin cheesecake was a good choice. Those expecting a sugar hit typical of sickly cheesecake may have been disappointed though, but for me the almost cheese option in a dessert format was to my taste. I didn't get much fruit from the cherry glaze on the cheesecake or in the cherry sorbet though and think it needed that sharp, fruity lift. But the chocolate truffle dipped in some sort of gel and given a stalk to masquerade as a cherry was a nice detail. I noticed the praline soufflé with Kentish cobnuts were flying out of the kitchen on the night and looked great.
Service was calm, professional and friendly throughout and the ambiance is really comfortable in the restaurant itself. Prices for food I think were reasonable for the quality with two courses at £29.95 and three for £39.95. There is also a five course chef's menu which would be a good choice for a special occasion or a splurge.
Head chef Andrew Mackenzie is an increasingly rare breed of chef at this level whose primary ethos is to still feed the diner well. The classic, elegant and confident food doesn't smack of shock tactic ingredients and gimmick formats that more often than not repulses rather than delights the customer. The wow factor in his dishes relies on smart detail and flavour as well as beautiful presentation. A man after my own stomach for sure.
43-44 marine parade
brighton BN2 1PE
I was a guest of The Restaurant at Drake's, opinions, as always, are my own.