REVIEW: The Coal Shed Supper Club, Brighton

by - April 30, 2014

The Coal Shed is well known in Brighton for being a good place for steak or a nice bit of fish, grilled on their fancy Josper charcoal oven. The restaurant seems to do extremely well despite the slightly off the beaten track location proving that if you care about the quality of what you serve, people will come.

And now there is another reason to pay a visit with a series of special supper clubs that allow their chefs a little more creative freedom on the plate. I was lucky enough to attend their first night, with a four course meal and matched wines by Joe Wadhams from Enotria Wines. Although I knew their food was a good standard anyway, I was still pleasantly surprised with the more refined and crafted presentation and techniques of this meal.

I really do like a supper club setting, either in someones private home or a temporary pop-up. The Coal Shed's version is more of a traditional setting in the room upstairs, people facing each other round a single large table. Almost always, that initial awkwardness of dining with strangers vanishes after the aperitif and most make the effort with lively chat. Maybe being Italian it just feels right to dine around a busy, loud table!

As I said, the food looked wonderful. Black plates are a bit contentious but were made for that sprinkling of striking magenta beetroot dust. Wow, colour pop anyone? Both the pigeon breast and slow cooked leg were really well cooked, not tough in the slightest. All game benefits from sharp fruits I think so the rhubarb and burnt orange were ideal. The soft beetroot sponge added a textural interest, can't say I've seen that before but really had its place here.

The fish course was a simple fillet of red mullet and who doesn't love lobster tortellini? In my opinion, there are not enough people serving chicory, which appealed to my like of bitter flavours along with the olive tapenade. Although I'm a red wine girl, the Italian Greco Di Tufo, Azienda Agricola Caggiano was fresh, floral and citrusy, perfect for the dish and something I'll be looking up again.

Best dish of the night had to go to the lamb with a succulent piece of rump and glazed shoulder. It was served with two of my favourite vegetables, an artichoke and tenderstem broccoli. Luckily the alarming looking grub worm turned out to be a Chinese Artichoke which I imagine tasted far better than the former. We played a little game with two reds served with this dish. One made by a man and the other a woman and from either the north or south of Rhone which we had to guess. 

I wasn't too sure about the deconstructed tiramisu, just because I think deconstructed food should be left in 2010, and I'm so typically Italian that I don't like the country's food toyed with! But as a dessert in its own right, it was a nice end to the meal with plenty of interesting components. The Peller Estate Cabernet Franc Icewine though totally outshone it, this was my wine of the night and although I've had Icewine before, I never made the connection that this was made by picking the grapes whilst they were frozen on the vine (duh). Not many wine growing regions get to that temperature hence why the bulk of it comes from Canada. My goodness it was delicious though and I would drink the stuff by the bucket if it wasn't so frightfully expensive due to the small production.

I've been to quite a few wine matched dinners now and luckily this one didn't fall into the wine bore category. I do find the old school ones utterly painful where I'm plonked next to some rich suit dullard that clearly collects wine for the sake of impressing his banker mates. If you like it, drink it I say. Joe Wadhams was just informative enough with the interesting facts to each wine but kept things lighthearted and fun, a perfect co-host with The Coal Shed owner Raz Helalat. If you are into your wine geekery or just like drinking good wine, then you will enjoy your evening here. At £65 with the impressive matched wines, it's a great value dining experience.
8 Boyce's St

Top image of the exterior and dining room from Food images by The Graphic Foodie using a Nokia Lumia 1020. I dined as a guest of the Coal Shed.

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