Living Up To Expectations!
When I was asked to visit Semolina I was delighted to accept as it had been on my radar of a place to visit since I set eyes on it back in January. And boy did it live up to my expectations!
Situated just off the London Road, in Baker Street you would not expect that such a place exists. The interior is sleek and modern with a few traditional touches. The background music is soothing and unobtrusive, something so important when the venue is so small.
Linda and her husband Orson are the proprietors. Having worked together running pub kitchens previously, with the Shakespeare Head being the most recent, they decided they wanted to try their hand at something different by opening their own place. They launched Semolina in December 2014.
Bistro Style Menu
Serving a Bistro menu during the day together with a set menu, it has a dish or a three course meal to suit all budgets and types of clientele.
We didn’t book, and were there at 12 o’clock. However, by 1.30pm they had had nine walk ins (a table for two that were a pair of ladies celebrating a birthday and a table of seven students), such is the draw of the menu and price.
Spoilt For Choice
When it came to choosing what to have we really were spoilt for choice. On the Bistro menu there is a good mix of meat, fish and vegetarian options – all sounding utterly inviting.
I decided that I would go for the three course set menu (£15.00). I wanted to see if the dishes varied in style or substance from the main menu (it also included a glass of house wine!), and my dining companion opted for a main course of Lamb (£16.00).
For my starter there was a choice of either Cream of Cauliflower and Cheddar or Black pudding and Apple Scotch Egg with Piccalilli. I opted for the latter and it was incredible. The eggs were cooked to perfection with the apple and black pudding scotch meat holding it in place. The scotch egg was subtle in flavour with a light sprinkling of bread crumbs which were complimented by the kick of piccalilli that looked so very vibrant on the dish together with the pickled beetroot and carrot garnish.
Mains – Asian Influenced
For the main course, the options were Thai style Vegetable Curry, Jasmine Rice or Duck Noodle soup, Pak Choi and Ginger. Being a big duck fan I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give the soup a try. It was delicious and very substantial – the bowl was huge! The soup was filled with confit of duck, and there was also a sliced breast on top. The broth was made with ginger, onions and garlic with the Pak Choi and Spinach in there too.
Together with the noodles this dish was superb and filling!
My dining companion’s Lamb from the main Bistro menu (Shoulder and Rump of Lamb, Confit Garlic Mash, Minted Shallots £16.00), was by no means disappointing. The meat itself fell apart as you touched it and melted in the mouth – delicious. The mash was smooth and creamy and the garlic wasn’t overpowering. The minted shallots added something different to the dish and flavoured the sauce beautifully. And again Orson really doesn’t skimp on his portions sizes – this was a big plate filled with yumminess!
Everything You Could Wish For
Being the piglet that I am and for the sake of the review (of course!!), I opted for a dessert too. On the set menu there was a choice of either Espresso Crème Brulee or Chocolate Tart with Caramel Ice Cream. Of course it was the Chocolate tart that I decided upon and it was everything that I could wish for from a chocolate dessert. The warm chocolate was thick, dark and bitter in taste, and was encased in a delicate pastry that took nothing away from the flavour of the chocolate. The caramel ice cream was divine and if you are not as keen on a dark chocolate as I am, it lifted the taste and complimented the bitterness with a real sweetness.
Helpful Wine Knowledge
With my Bistro menu I opted for the house white wine (don’t forget this is included in the £15.00 menu price – amazing!). It was lovely, dry and light and a great choice for a house wine as you could tell it would most probably compliment most dishes.
When ordering her Lamb, my dining companion opted for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc (she is allergic to red wine). And this is where Linda came into her own and really showed her knowledge. She offered alternatives and tasters of other whites that she felt would be a better match to the dish – something that I’ve never experienced in a restaurant once I had placed an order of wine and without any prompting. Admittedly my friend did stick to her original choice (she knows what she likes!), but to be offered to try something that you may have never thought of or even knew about I thought was a real treat.
In all this overall experience was exceptional and one that I would never have guessed to find off the London Road. I think it goes to show how this area is changing and how more new businesses are realising its potential and trusting that the changes will continue.
Linda and Orson have created a real gem of a restaurant and one that I’ll make sure to keep visiting.
Check availability and book online
Semolina Restaurant in Brighton
You can also call Semolina on 01273 697259