REVIEW: MAW pop up restaurant, Brighton

Supper clubs come in various guises and it's been a while since I've dined at one in a more traditional format, in a home. But, Brighton being Brighton, this was not your average home, tucked in a quiet street and with a former life as a coach house. The space was huge, modern and stylish and the chef at the stove was Mark Wadsworth who you may have spied on last season's Masterchef. Following a stint last year with a series of successful pop ups in Brighton Square, they are now back with a new 8 course tasting menu, appearing every six weeks in various locations across the city.

So after we settled down on the huge communal table and made friends with the strangers around us we tucked into the food. A food trend I'm really on board with is the real celebration of butter. It started off with adorning the good stuff with a few salt crystals, now toppings are getting more elaborate. But this was the best yet, topped with a dust of truffle, mushroom, leek and chicken and dangerously addictive. Being honest, I would have been happy with an entire loaf of bread and a slab of this for the whole evening. Even though I hate the word "umami", I can't think of a better description. Anyway, before this turns out to be a whole post on butter...

We were served three snacks; a delicious rare torched beef (although not sure it had been torched) on a bread crisp with sake and truffle mayo, a poached oyster with warm stout and my favourite, a pressed chicken skin crisp topped with dots of coriander, lemongrass and coconut sauce. Again, chicken skin has been cropping up a bit recently and happy with that I am too.

This followed with a really delicate Alaskan king crab dish, light and fresh and superb with the gentle heat from the crisp mouli. 

Almost the dish of the night was the quail (pictured on the top of this post). The fragrant Asian pear and truffle honey really accentuated the sweetness of the meat, whereas the pickled radish and burnt leek contrasted with it perfectly. A really clever dish this one and I can't get enough of the smoke element charred vegetables add to a meat course. 

The cod was an enjoyable dish, the fish poached in butter and given a Mediterranean holiday vibe with red pepper puree, mussels, chorizo and topped with paper thin tomato crisps - an ingredient that works particularly well in dehydration to intensify the flavour. 

Just pipping the quail for dish of the night though goes to the miso beef fillet though which packed a punch of juicy flavour. Served with a 50/50 butter mash (low cholesterol is so overrated), shitake mushroom and burnt onion, its simplicity really allowed the hero ingredient to shine. 

Dessert was a bit of a crowd splitter. Kudos for serving banana in a fine dining setting - you don't often see the humble 'nana glorified in elegant dishes, but this was pleasant with crystallised pecans and a matcha tea and white chocolate ice cream. It was different, quirky and interesting but not my favourite of desserts. 

The quality of supper clubs at this level is certainly on the rise and MAW is up there with the finest. Although I do enjoy suppers organised by home cooks or producers, there's something really special about a professional chef creatively let loose without constraints or house-style of a restaurant. The diner may be the guinea pig for some experimentation which can be contentious, but it always makes for an interesting dining experience.

Vegetarians are catered for with advanced notice and drinks are BYO. Tickets are £45 plus booking fee per person. For next events follow @mawpopup or visit

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