The simple act of going out for a meal has evolved over the years. Whilst there is nothing wrong with simply grabbing a bite to eat; for many of us this is no longer sufficient. Luckily for those diners who demand something more, the growth of pop up restaurants and exclusive food events meets their needs. One such restaurant that promises that little bit more is Isaac At.
Isaac At promise an event that will last all evening and live long in the memory. The restaurant is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings offering an ever changing five course seasonal taster menu. The chefs – headed by talented young chef Isaac Bartlett-Copeland – personally source all of the produce locally and build each week’s menu based on what they find.
The food is contemporary British fine dining served in an intimate and somewhat different space – in a former life the building was the office of a financial advisor. The chefs take centre stage – in their small open kitchen – allowing for an interactive experience that breaks down the barrier between kitchen and diner.
I was invited to one of their regular pop up events; this time in association with Bison Beer – a craft beer shop located on East Street in Brighton. The taster menu had a classic pub food theme and was matched with three ales from Bison. Something told me that I was going to enjoy this one.
My friend and I took our seats at a table of eight; the space is small and so table sharing is a necessity. This would normally put me off but it actually added to the experience as we chatted to the other diners at our table. We started with a lagerita cocktail and a pre-nibble of a salty pork scratching with lager hollandaise. A gentle start that just whet the appetite for what was to come.
The starter had caught my eye since I first glimpsed the menu. A perfectly executed Scotch egg with crisp breadcrumbs coating rich gamey venison and a runny egg yolk; add to this a beautifully crafted pie packed with a dense pork filling and a home made piccalilli. As starters go this was quite something although I felt the piccalilli was slightly too sharp. This was paired with Bison Beer’s own Beast Street IPA which was a surprisingly smooth and hoppy ale and stood up well to the food.
Next up the unexpected star of the evening. A mackerel parfait that excited the senses and was nothing sort of exceptional. This was served with a juicy sweet tomato terrine and basil dressing. The crisp mackerel skin was the only element of the dish that did not quite work but otherwise an exquisite offering.
Pork belly came next and this was not a bad thing. Slow cooked for two days this was a joy to behold with a texture unlike any I had tried before. This was served with a pork shoulder croquette beetroot ketchup and smoked apple puree. A veritable meat feast that was washed down with a Saison ale from local brewers Burning Sky. With elderflower and tart fruit notes this was perhaps the most wine-like of the beer on offer.
After a refreshing palette cleanser of Brighton gin and cucumber sorbet we tucked into our dessert of sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream and pickled apple. Of all the courses this was perhaps the least exciting. The pudding itself delivered what you would expect although the pickled apple divided opinion.
The dessert was matched with a stout style ale from Three Legs brew Co. based in East Sussex. A complex and characterful ale that I have had before and was as good as I remembered.
As a dining experience this really did hit the spot. Not only was the food excellent the level of service was also top notch – and not only because of the generous amounts of ale on offer. Restaurant manager Sofia previously worked at a Michelin star restaurant and has brought that level of service into this role. There was as really bright buzzy atmosphere and all of the guests were chatting and generally enjoying themselves. At £50 a head including drinks I felt this was excellent value especially as there were a couple of extra desserts thrown in. I was very impressed with the level of cooking and the overall delivery of this very young team. There is definitely a bright future ahead for Issac At; watch this space and grab a table while you are at it.
This review first appeared in the November 13th edition of the Brighton and Hove Independent and can be viewed here
The restaurant was aware that I was reviewing and food was complimentary, this in no way influenced my review.