REVIEW: Amarillo (pop up) by Ian Swainson, Lost In The Lanes, Brighton

by - September 11, 2019

Opening a restaurant in Brighton isn't for the faint hearted and finding (and financing) permanent premises is a tough gig in these parts but not essential to making diners come to you. But the food industry can be resourceful little devils and many have started out by popping up restaurants in day-time eateries (I have high hopes for Tlaloc after my recent visit and remember the now two-site Cin Cin started out by selling antipasti out of a van).

They don't often all work though and sitting in a casual cafe in the evening can be a little awkward. Not here though as Lost in the Lanes is a cool little outfit; copper topped tables, bare plaster, naked Plumen bulbs all in a luxe, chic French farmhouse vibe. It almost lends itself to evenings more than day. And with With Ian Swainson's food on the tables, this certainly is a hot little ticket for date night. Swainson hails from The Pass (I've never forgotten that dessert and left my visit a fan of Ian's work) and led The Samling Hotel to a Michelin Star, so no surprise you'll find the refined touches and techniques of such a chef on the plates there.

However, Amarillo is intended to be far more stripped back and accessible to more; the menu is a sharing plate format, starting with pinchos and you'll find Spanish, Asian and even Italian influence throughout the dishes.

The Salmon pincho made for an incredibly strong start, the unctuous raw salmon belly with avocado was cut through with a hit of spice from sriracha. Toasts with serrano ham, topped with tomato, finely chopped egg white and a yolk emulsion, a refined version of a classic.

The menu is relatively short, two options each for fish, meat or vegetarian so allows you make a good dent across it, which I recommend you do. The bavette was knock-out in flavour, my favourite cut, with the deep, rich smoke of burnt onion sauce and balsamic. A simple side of tenderstem broccoli with the best béarnaise I've come across, the sweetness of the tarragon almost convincing me there was vanilla at play here too.

Of course if there's anything truffle on the menu it has to be mine; a perfectly made truffled scotch egg arancini perched on top of wild mushroom and a truffle cream sauce and the spinach, truffle and Parmesan salad engulfed the table with my favourite aroma. I'd have loved for the yolk of the arancini dish to have been more gratuitous and rich, and despite the smell, a harder hit of the truffle in that particular dish itself. That said, I would have happy eaten each dish again.

Both desserts are order worthy, the tiramisu particularly. Here deconstructed but so enjoyable with a light sponge, marscapone and a rich, salted chocolate mousse, the clever inclusion of an espresso granita just sexing up the whole damn thing.

If floral and delicate is more your dessert then the syrup-marinated peaches with lavender and Champagne is your ticket, with surprising little jellies and sticks of meringue to keep it fun.

Prices overall were, to me, incredibly reasonable for the quality of cooking at £50 or so for two excluding wine. Although we've generally seen the quality rise in our restaurants, prices have rocketed and a good meal is still not guaranteed. Last week a beyond mediocre meal would have left me £120 lighter. And I almost needed therapy after being served 7 anchovies from a tin with a drizzle of olive oil for £8 in a restaurant lately (it's going to take me years to get over that, YEARS). Anything goes here now the London money and the rising rates have blown our little seaside city into a new dimension, so when you see a chance for some great cooking at a reasonable price, snap it up.

Although Amarillo is box fresh, and in temporary environment, the intention for quality and detail has been strongly defined from the off, from the considered branding to the touches in the plating and settings, and of course the elegant food itself.

Amarillo is currently open Friday and Saturday evenings, with a view to extending to more evenings.

c/o Lost In The Lanes
10 Nile St, Brighton BN1 1HW

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

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