One Of The Greater Joys In Life!
Brighton Food Reviewer, Brittany, September 2015
One of my greatest joys in life is dining out with friends. The pop of a champagne cork welcomed with a whoop, excited chatter while you examine the specials, and of course my personal favourite: getting to taste every dish! Luckily my friends are big on sharing, so there is rarely a plate that doesn’t get sampled and discussed. We love our food and we love to talk about it, too.
A Perfect Excuse
Recently a thirty-something birthday gave us the perfect excuse to experience the Coal Shed for the first time. Tucked just far enough away from West Street to keep things civilized, the Coal Shed is an intimate restaurant with a New York style atmosphere.
The staff walked us through the heavy velvet curtain that kept the chilly night at bay, and welcomed us into a casually sophisticated dining room that was buzzing with a mix of clientele. From intimate twosomes to boisterous businessmen, the room was filled with energy and anticipation.
Friendly And Welcoming
Our group was seated in a comfortable nook with plenty of space and the perfect degree of privacy so that we could enjoy our evening without losing out on the shared dining experience. We were greeted immediately with a friendly smile and a welcoming laugh, and the night began.
From the start we opened a bottle of Tattinger bubbles, and our waiter recommended the Cabernet Franc, Humberto Canale, which we tasted, loved, and left a couple to breathe until the main course…it was a celebration after all!
Bubbles And Oysters
To accompany our bubbles we ordered Jersey Oysters for the table, ‘cheers-ing’ with the shells we slurped them down. The oysters were so fresh, delicate and full of flavour that I could have happily had two dozen to myself. I am a bit of a purist when it comes to seafood, rarely needing more than a squeeze of lemon; but I made an exception for the tangy shallot vinaigrette which excited the palate and got us all salivating.
Our entrees came shortly after, and the staff made smooth work of clearing and resetting, while making an effort to be friendly and fun, in keeping with the momentum of the night.
Seafood Lovers Dream
As a seafood lover, I had a hard choice, as there were several tempting options; but I could not pass up the Rye Bay scallops starter, as they are a personal favourite. Presented beautifully with green peas, black pudding granola & wild garlic juice, they were succulent and divine. The black pudding added a bit of salty texture and the garlic juice gave the whole dish a flavourful kick, while the peas brightened it up in every way.
A few of my comrades wanted to fully indulge in the steak house experience and opted for beef for both starter and main; the Beef Carpaccio with truffle cream, and the BBQ beef Jacobs Ladder. I’m thrilled that we like to share, because they made some excellent choices.
The Beef Carpaccio was subtle and fresh and the truffle oil gave the dish a warm and earthy finish, which was complemented by the saltiness of the Parmesan, and left me making mental notes for next time. The BBQ Jacobs Ladder was a big favourite.
Full of flavour and finger-licking sauce, we systematically lost our manners while indulging in the sticky delights.
The meat was tender, slipped off the bone and was packed with smoky flavour and topped with a sauce that one friend would have happily licked from the bottom of the dish.
The real secret star came from the vegetarian option, which was definitely undersold. Our token veggie friend, as well as the rest of us, was pleasantly surprised by the goats curd mousse with red pepper ketchup, black olives & basil. The goats curd was creamy and light, the black olives salty and ripe, and the basil cut through it all making each bite bright and tasty.
We were all impressed with the dish and loved that our vegetarian counterpart was loving her first steakhouse experience.
After a short break for smokers and slow drinkers, we were ready to move on to the main event. Our waiter poured out the Cab Franc Canale, and cleared the runway for our indulgent main course.
The resident vegetarian had only one option, the gnocchi, but luckily it was just as delicious as the goats curd starter. The attention to detail for vegetarian items can sometimes be lost in a steak house, but I was very pleased that the Coal Shed’s passion for food was still conveyed, much to our veggie’s delight.
Chateaubriand To Share
In the spirit of sharing we opted for the 800 grams of the Chateaubriand, cooked medium rare, served with family style sides. The meat was presented sliced and charred to perfection, with natural juices creating a delectable puddle on our chopping board. Filling our plates to our preference I indulged in the rarest pieces I could find, while my friends opted for the more medium end cuts. It was the perfect choice for our style of celebrating.
Accompanying the steak were some classic American favourites of mine, made with an interesting twist. The beef dripping chips, (which are a must-have), were light and fluffy on the inside, and crisped a buttery golden brown on the outside. The Parmesan and truffle mac n cheese was a decadent take on an old favourite and added a warming hometown element. And the oh-so-American creamed spinach, which was initially met by sceptical friends, was quickly devoured and left us wanting more. All but the chips were veggie friendly which made for a wonderful family-style eating experience.
Excellent Wine Pairing
My personal favourites of the evening were the scallops, and of course the Chateaubriand, especially when paired with the excellent wine recommendation of the Cabernet Franc. It is fair to say that my friends and I are very much looking forward to returning to the Coal Shed and indulging again in its light-hearted atmosphere, charming staff, and exceptional cuisine, and hopefully having the foresight to save room for dessert!