Always on the lookout for the best restaurants in Brighton, I’ve been itching to go to Isaac At for eons. The opportunity finally came last week when a friend celebrated her birthday there. With 20 of us tucked into the tiny Brighton restaurant on Gloucester Street, it was going to be an intimate affair and I was itching to get started.
Proceedings kicked off with a cold glass of Nyetimber Classic Cuvee Sparkling Brut and pre-starter that was being painstakingly prepared as we arrived. A hot treacle and stout loaf was waiting on the table screaming to be eaten along with creamy, salty homemade butter – a thing of beauty. Try as I might to give up bread, when I’m presented with stuff as good as this it’s hard to refuse.
With seven courses to get through, I resisted the urge to gorge on a third chunk and concentrated on the caramelised artichoke, kohlrabi and pear starter instead. The dish was fresh, light and full of flavour and the perfect way to start our meal. Cod, cauliflower and cobnut oil followed, with a beautiful piece of perfectly cooked cod gracing the plate. Every restaurant I eat in recently seems to feature the humble cauliflower and that’s a good thing in my opinion (if you haven’t tried Bincho Yakitori’s fried chilli cauliflower, what are you waiting for?).
The real stand out dish for me was the lamp chump, onion and turnip – the lamb, sourced from Highfield’s Park Farm in East Sussex, was perfectly pink and the onion added a sweet edge to the dish. My only tiny gripe is that it could have been hotter, but I’ll forgive that as it was so damn good. Wine was flowing and we drank a gorgeous Sedlescombe white and red – the white was a definite highlight of the night and I’ll be hunting it down in time for Christmas.
Chief sommelier and restaurant manager, Alex, was the perfect host all night and brought great knowledge and enthusiasm to the whole experience. It’s hard to believe that the team are in their early 20s: set up by 24 year old Isaac Bartlett Copeland (former City College alumni and junior sous at Brighton’s Grand Hotel) he and his team are making great waves on the Brighton restaurant scene and long may it continue.
The attention to detail and care shown by all the chefs was evident from start to finish and I enjoyed watching them at work nearly as much as I enjoyed eating their food. I chose not to watch them via the TV screen in the restaurant (not needed, the food speaks for itself), instead getting up close to the pass and seeing the action first hand. I love the fact that they source many of the ingredients from East and West Sussex, showcasing some of the best Sussex food producers that us Brighton residents are so lucky to have right on our doorstep. It’s a treat for sure, with set menus starting at £35, but worth it if you appreciate fresh, locally sourced food cooked with flair, imagination and passion.
Isaac At, Gloucester Street, Brighton, BN1 4EW. Tel: 07765 934740. Map.