The Copper Clam: Surf and Turf
On sunny evenings, I sometimes panic when I’m heading out for a meal. What if I’m stuck in the back of a dark restaurant while everyone else is enjoying the sun? Luckily, there’s no need to worry at The Copper Clam. Slap bang on Brighton Beach, the bright upstairs restaurant has big windows with sea views from every table. Exposed brick arches and stripped wooden floors give it relaxed appeal, and there’s plenty of outside seating. Sun, rain, wind or snow, you can’t beat this setting.
My second visit to The Copper Clam, last time I’d indulged in some of their seafood signatures, like Kilpatrick oysters and a seafood platter for one. Now, with a new menu soon to launch, I was keen to see what else they had to offer, so I took my friend Ellie along to investigate.
Well-considered wine list
“We’ve spent three months creating our new wine list,” restaurant co-owner Kay told us as she pointed out some of their new additions, including several English wines. Cocktails are also on offer, and I could see a line of trendy gins behind the beautiful copper bar.
Kay suggested we start with one of her favourite sparkling wines: Hindleap Seyval Blanc from Bluebell Vineyard near Uckfield. A great choice, it was light, smooth and less acidic than other English wines I’ve tried.
Cracking crab starters
For starters, we chose two crab dishes that they were trailing for the new menu. Kay explained that they source as much local produce as possible but that this means being flexible at times. “There’s less local crab around at the moment, as they dug down deep in the cold weather,” she told us, “so we’ve added some non-local soft shell to the specials board.”
Light and crisp, the tempura batter gave a delicate crunch, while the flesh was soft and plentiful. Served with shards of spring onion, sweet red pepper and a leaf salad, the crab was tasty enough to eat alone but the spicy mayo it came with was so moreish that I couldn’t stop dipping.
Sourced from Sussex waters, our second crab dish was served as a cold salad. A juicy combination of crab, avocado and ‘secret’ seasoning, it was topped with crispy leek and shell-on prawns. Infused with a hint of lemon, even the prawns tasted special. A definite hit.
Hearty fish supper
For mains, I chose another ‘special’ that was being lined up for the new menu: monkfish in parma ham. A generous portion of thick white fish wrapped in salty ham, it was served on a bed of seasoned green peas and grated carrot. Really hearty, it’s a particularly good choice if you love comforting fish suppers.
For wine, Kay brought Chilean Chardonnay Grand Reserve, Irene Morales – a smooth and oaky white.
While The Copper Clam is renowned for its seafood, Kay suggested trying their ‘star’ steak. “Our filet mignon is the best piece of meat you’ll taste,” she assured. With a promise like that, we had to try it. More than an inch thick, served on the bone and criss-cross charred on top, it certainly looked impressive. Having lived in Argentina and tasted many-a great steak in her time, Ellie put it to the test. “It’s very good,” she nodded enthusiastically.
Juicy and super soft, there’s no need for a steak knife with this cut.
It was served with plump cherry tomatoes, silky buttered spinach and a chocolate, chilli and balsamic sauce – a revelation that I’d definitely recommend.
A dish like this needs a bold red, so Kay delivered a glass of Carmenere Ventisquero Grey (Chile) – another new addition to their list, it was an intense and fruity success.
Pear and potato sides
For sides, we nibbled at skin-on chips and a pear salad with baby leaves – fresh and crisp with crunchy nuts and a sweet balsamic dressing, I could happily eat this salad as a light starter. Something sweet, with a kick
Portion sizes are generous at The Copper Clam but, although satisfyingly full, we were still tempted by something sweet. We opted for affogato made with homemade vanilla ice-cream, fresh coffee and Kahlua.
Kay also recommended the Rubis Chocolate dessert wine or a glass of Pinot Gris. I chose the Pinot, which was light, fresh and summery. Ellie finished with an Argentinian Malbec, having been lulled back to her former home by her steak main.
Whether you want to sit in the sun and eat oysters, caviar and lobster, or cosy-up inside with a filet mignon and sunset views, The Copper Clam certainly won’t disappoint. Try the specials and don’t be shy about asking for recommendations, especially for the wine – the staff here really know their stuff.See the listing for Copper Clam Brighton