The Coal Shed is a solid fixture in Brighton's dining scene - consistent, great quality and decent value for money. The main pull is their charcoal Josper Grill, so naturally a BBQ event would be perfect here particularly as it was National BBQ week too. But The Coal Shed wasn't exactly going to throw a couple of snags on the fire, each dish was worked into their elegantly crafted style.
I really like the feel of this place. It's casual but also incredibly smart, managing to feel special with elegant touches, but there is nothing stuffy about it at all.
Anyway, as is de rigeur at the moment, we started with a platter of "chef snacks" to kick off the meal. Sweet, savoury and nicely spicy was the miniature jerk ham hock taco that despite its size had a lot going on. Pork loves sweet partners so the pineapple chunks and sweetcorn kernels were ideal, the heat of jalapeno and pickled red onions contrasting nicely. Crisp jackets of baked Jersey Royals were filled with a delicately smoked creme cheese and topped with, I'll assume tobiko, caviar. Finally, tender, charred asparagus tips were drizzled with hollandaise and teeny cubes of cured sausage.
Wine pairing was available on the night with come absolute corkers included or a fresh alternative were the matched beers from Lost + Found Brewery based near Arundel. Naturally I chose the wines but I had my craft beer nut husband with me who, I'm sure, squeaked a bit at being served beer for a change. (I think this will become more common place, I have recently met a beer sommelier who is trying to switch the focus on wines in a mid to fine dining setting and apparently beers are easier to food match.)
The strong start to the food continued with this incredible brisket dish. The braised, rolled then fried meat had been perfectly spiced, delicate but very much present. So tender, it just fragmented at the touch of a fork. Topping this was a charred Roscoff onion, kimchi, crispy fried onions and a thick, decadent BBQ sauce. The whole table fell silent with this dish - it was a charred, smokey, sweet and sticky triumph.
I've always though The Coal Shed handled fish just as well as meat (and of course they have their fish-focused sister restaurant The Salt Room). Monkfish is sturdy to handle the grills as well as coping with some punchy flavours too. Classic pit beans were given a twist with chorizo and I adored the rich, smokey BBQ relish.
A fire roasted spiced rack of lamb finished the main courses with a Middle Eastern vibe. Perfect with lamb is aubergine, roasted and scooped from the skin. Baby gem lettuce gave the dish some much needed crispness and the meat was as succulent and sweet as you would have hoped for.
Dessert was a British homage, it felt a bit Wimbledon which was nice. A clotted cream parfait was adorned with strawberry meringue, fresh and jammy strawberries and a lip-smackingly zingy lime Italian meringue. Beautifully balanced and made extra special with the paired Goring Rose Sussex sparkling wine.
Wines throughout were delicious and for £25, well priced. Maybe I'm lazy but I really appreciate wine flights, it takes the effort out of choosing! But another bonus is that there is always a variety or estate that is new to discover - I'll be looking up the Goring Estate for more and the reds were particularly gorgeous so I noted them down. Nice to see Greek wine too - we some recently at a visit to The Salt Room so something they are pushing.
The Lost + Found beers worked well too. Priced individually at £5, I think it would have been a struggle to fit in all five (although Mr GF pretty much managed - what a er, hero). I'm trying harder with beer but for me, I still want wine with food. The only beer that didn't work was the DIPA with dessert which was far too punchy at 8.8% for such a delicate dessert.
So yes, perfect evening. Seeing the interaction over a communal table that is typical with a supperclub setting is really nice. It didn't take long for couples and groups to start infiltrating each others conversations and the atmosphere was lovely.
The Coal Shed will continue to run specially crafted events and supperclubs like this, so even if you are familiar with their regular dishes, it would be well worth booking in to experience one of these. Amazingly this 50 cover event sold out in 30 minutes, so get in quick!
The BBQ dinner was £50 per person and optional wine pairing £25 (great value for both I thought). Beers were £5 each.
Details of upcoming events can be found on https://www.coalshed-restaurant.co.uk/
The Coal Shed
8 Boyce's Street
Brighton BN1 1AN
I dined as a guest of The Coal Shed. Words and thoughts, as always, my own.