There's no denying that Red Roaster is one of my favourite daytime spots. Be it brunching with friends, dropping in for coffee or using it as a separate office to wow clients and a bit of freelancing; it does it all, and with serious style.
But with the lights dimmed, its evening incarnation—Pike & Pine—takes on a more intimate feel, perfect for luxury dining which oozes modern glamour. I am ridiculously seduced by a beautiful interior, visual sucker I am, and the marble surfaces and botanical features look even better by night.
There's the option of sitting up at the counter, show-side. Watching creatives at work never gets boring to me but if you want a more relaxing dinner or want to keep the beauty of the plating a mystery, without seeing the Tupperware, vac packs, pokes and prods of a working kitchen, then book a table. Interestingly, main man Matt Gillan is slightly off stage, partly behind a wall, which will be surprising to some.
You can choose from a 6, 8 or 10 course tasting menu (£55/£65/£75) which do differ rather than cutting out courses. There's also the offer of 4 courses at £40 on certain nights too.
The consommé however, was beautiful in its entirety. Concentrated summer flavours were poured over the freshness of raw asparagus and bean shoot stems, glossy broad beans and semi dehydrated tomatoes that added an intensity and punch.
I've never taken so many photos of a slice of cheese, but deserving the attention was a ripe Wigmore, taken to the beauty parlour and treated with honey, pollen and honey cake crumb before being adorned with compressed watermelon cubes and colourful flowers. All of those sweet notes with the farminess of the Wigmore was delightful. And so. Darn. Pretty.
Of course we need to discuss price. Because it's up there for Brighton and a few years ago, a meal for two hovering round the £130 mark (£230 including wine flights), quite unimaginable for these parts. But the room was packed and lively and I saw no guns being pointed when the bills arrived. People are happy to pay for the experience and gourmet tourists will want to tick this off their list.
Some will relish in this and for some, it just won't be for them at all, but almost everyone will turn up with great expectations and preconceptions for this cost and profile chef. And that can be a particularly tough crowd.
Five years ago the naysayers were stating that fine dining has no place here. I disagree. Brighton dining is exciting, varied and that quality bar is going up, up, up.
Pike & Pine
St James' St
I dined as a guest of Pike & Pine. Words and thoughts, as always, my own.