The evening was based around an eight-course tasting menu showcasing everything that Flank has brought to the scene since it opened. The decision to host the evening at Silo was not purely down to convenience. In linking up with Douglas McMaster at Silo there was a sense of unity and respect for each other’s approach to sustainable and ethical dining – not to mention some fantastic cooking.
Having secured some tickets via Silo’s online booking platform – with a moments panic when I thought they had sold out – my girlfriend and I ventured out on a rare Sunday night jaunt. I hate leaving the house on a Sunday evening, which is testament to how highly I regard the chef, and was doing my best not to be in a bad mood for the meal.
Having not seen the menu until we arrived there was a palpable hum of excitement when we entered the venue – swiftly followed by a number of people uploading images to Twitter. After a brief introduction from each of the chefs where they talked about their reasons for collaborating, Tom took us through the courses and his journey.
The evening started with a double dish of fermented and pickled black carrots with cured duck ham and quail egg. Tom cures the ham himself and it was rich and meaty and the crisp egg was a perfect match. The black carrots had been fermented and then pickled giving them a unique and slightly meaty flavour.
Next up was Yolanda’s favourite – cauliflower three ways. Tom uses the entire vegetable creating a fine puree from the stem, pickled leaves and fried florets. This was topped off with a little luxury via truffle and cobnut oil. It was a fine dish to celebrate the humble and often derided cauliflower.
Hand dived scallops with black fermented kimchi and braised black cabbage was a visually striking and delicious dish and every bit as good as when I tried it before. This was followed by a cep mushroom and torched onion, served with a crumpet and whipped bone marrow butter. The crumpet was the star of the show for me with a stodgy yet light dough with a mild sweetness that was a joy.
Next up was Tom’s signature dish – Dexter cattle short-rib that has been cooked for 36 hours and finished on ‘the egg’ (a rather excellent BBQ) served with pan stock, flank ketchup and ox heart ash. An incarnation of this dish has been on the menu since Flank opened and epitomises Tom’s approach to sustainable meat eating.
With this dish he shows us that less popular cuts of meat that are often overlooked can taste as good, if not better, than the more illustrious and better known. It is a fantastic dish with meat that melts in the mouth but is packed with flavour. The ox heart ash gives a rich and savoury undertone and the ketchup with an additional watercress sauce added a freshness.
A pre-dessert creation of aerated frozen apple was an inventive course that tasted like eating fresh apple snow. The meal finished with a gorgeous chocolate dish with caramel and thyme that brought proceedings to an exquisite end.
Flank is one of Brighton’s brightest pop-ups and it is an exciting time for Tom as he moves his operation from The Royal Sovereign up to The Cow in Seven Dials. The move will see him expand his menu to include Saturday brunch options to complement his full lunch and evening menu.
With Flank at The Cow – has a nice ring to it doesn’t it – Tom has launched a new look menu with a familiar feel. The short rib is still available alongside torched black bream, Tamworth pig cheeks and black top Flank cut. There are veggie options courtesy of a cauliflower steak or salt baked celeriac, plus a spiced beef shin doughnut starter that alone should make the walk up to the dials worthwhile.
The Cow, 95/97 Dyke Road
Brighton, BN1 3JE