November started in the most hipster of fashions, with a day trip to London to visit Climpson’s Arch, an artisan coffee roaster housed within an arch in Shoreditch (of course).
After the tour and a tasting, I began to wonder whether the recruitment policy discriminated against those without copious facial hair until I spotted one young clean shaven chap. “Oh he’ll be fi red soon” was the response when this anomaly was mentioned.
After this entertaining visit, I headed (with my colleagues) to Lyles – the epitome of hipster dining and with a recently awarded Michelin star. The décor was a bit stark and industrial for my taste but then that’s hipster for you. The food, however, was excellent. I started with a dish of pumpkin, chestnut and buttermilk and followed with mallard duck. My colleague’s mushroom carpaccio starter was stunning with intense depth of flavour. The only disappointment was a rather dry and ordinary frangipani tart.
Later that week I returned to London for a lunch date. My companion and I chose Lima, the Michelin starred Peruvian restaurant. I had been once before with my foodie friend (and ex) Andy. Peruvian cuisine is joyously unfamiliar, novel and delicious. We started with a sea bass ceviche and Lomo steak beef loin with yellow Ají sauce and coriander cressbeef (both £14). For mains I just had to have the suckling pig with chicharron, sesame seeds, celeriac and elderberry (£28 but so worth it). For dessert an avocado and chocolate mousse (£9) proved divine and, I suspect, not at all healthy. Interestingly the avocado had been made into two types of mousse – one purely a sweet green avocado, and the other a chocolate, both housed within a chocolate avocado shaped shell. Totally delicious, as were the pisco sours.
Back in my beloved Brighton I enjoyed an impromptu lunch at Food for Friends. Being both starving and indecisive on this particular day I greedily ordered two starters as well as a main (which was only salad so that’s ok right?).
First up, tempura fried courgette flower stuffed with goat’s cheese mousse. Perfectly cooked and excellent in both taste and texture. Crisp (but not greasy) batter giving way to light tangy mousse. Then a superb dish of king oyster mushroom with yolk and celeriac puree – autumn on a plate. Finally, halloumi salad with cashews, mango and avocado, it sounded a strange combination and I was curious. It totally worked. One negative from a really good lunch - the service was a bit offish on this particular day.
Hopefully a temporary issue.
Dinner the following week at Semolina was at first superb and then disappointing. A starter of scallops and celeriac puree was sublime, but my pork belly was undercooked meaning that the fat
hadn’t rendered away and the crackling was not crisp. I managed to forage a couple of forkfuls of meat amongst the fat before giving up on it. I know this is unusual as I have eaten superb food here before. I will be back soon to review it properly and feel confident it will be a good experience.
Also in November I got back into Sunday lunch. Usually I have overindulged so much on a Friday and Saturday, that Sundays are a rather puritanical affair but for various reasons I have been off the booze for a bit, so Sunday can be a funday and indeed it was. I went further afield than normal for Sunday lunch, this time in the glorious Sussex countryside, to The Bull in Ditchling. This lovely venue has recently won pub of the year at the 2016 Great British pub awards.
A starter of pigeon breast, granola, shallots and blackberries got things off to a fine start. A main of cauliflower and truffle with sorrel and cured egg yolk was a welcome diversion from the usual heavy roast meat affair (two courses for £21). It was nice to end lunch without feeling the need to lie down.
This wasn’t the case the following Sunday when I enjoyed one of the best Sunday lunches I have had for a long time at the Foragers in Hove (£12.50) washed down with a glorious glass of French Syrah. All the components were spot on.
As the month drew to a close, I enjoyed a rather decadent Saturday in both Brighton and London. First up, a light brunch of smoked salmon and blinis with a glass of Pol Roger at the perfect Riddle and Finn in the Lanes, followed by a late lunch at the Market; the broccoli, crispy kale and tahini dish remains a favourite and you must try the current chicken dish – braised but crisp chicken thigh with chestnuts and marsala, a beautiful, warming autumnal dish.
Finally a late dinner at the swanky and glamorous Park Chinois (the latest venture from Alan Yau; the man who started Wagamama). The place was pure opulence with high-end Chinese food and prices to match. I would recommend for a very special occasion. In this month’s issue, read all about the winners of the Brighton and Hove Food Awards, as well plenty of food and wine news. I am researching January detox trips as we speak…