Paul Morgan and co-owner Sam at Fourth and Church in Hove. They are enjoying a glass of wine, with a back drop of wine bottles

Meet Paul Morgan at FOURTH & CHURCH

We catch up with Paul Morgan, Owner of FOURTH & CHURCH, and discuss winning the prestigious BRAVO Best Wine List award in 2023.

Paul shares insights into what makes his wine list so popular, highlighting his favourite Sussex wines, inspirations, and what guests can expect when visiting FOURTH & CHURCH for the first time.

How did it feel to win the 2023 BRAVO Best Wine List?

A wonderful recognition for the business and especially the team’s hard work! It’s always lovely to be well-received and for people to like what you do.

Awards and achievements lead to more people coming through our door, which in turn, enables us to carry on moving forward, engaging with exciting producers and raising our game with what we offer…..A win-win!

Paul Morgan and team celebrating their 2023 Best Wine List BRAVO win outside Fourth and Church

Tell us about the wine list at FOURTH & CHURCH

We compile our list once a week, depending on what we want to highlight from our shelves, the cellar or anything we have recently enjoyed.

The summarised list is just a fraction of what is available and you can always choose something from the many additional bottles on the shelves or our cellar list.

We list around 30 wines by the glass, including a unique selection of Sherry and Sparkling wines.

We aim to list interesting wines that will encourage our guests to step out of their comfort zones when they order.

Wine List at Fourth and Church restaurant in Hove. The Paul Morgan Interview

How would you describe the experience at F & C to someone who hasn’t been before?

An informal Hove restaurant and bar, with a cosy neighbourhood atmosphere and a great team who will look after you with plenty of smiles and expertise. Great for a quick glass of wine and a small plate, an express set lunch or a gastronomic multi-course dinner with paired wine.

Moody wine pictures being showcase by Paul Morgan at Fourth and Church

When did you first become interested in wine?

As an 18/19-year-old commis chef, I went to restaurants as much as I could afford, taking advantage of industry advice, discounts and offers.

I quickly learned that taking recommendations from waiters or sommeliers was the gateway to great deals and something you may not have chosen.

I still adopt that strategy when out and about now!

Wine bottles on a wine rack at Fourth and Church

Who has influenced you the most in the wine world?

That is such a difficult question. I guess the last person who has talked to me about their vines or winemaking or has poured/introduced me to something new over a bar or at the table or a community that makes up an exciting wine-producing region that is forever changing from one generation to the next. All inspiring!

If I were to single out some individuals who put me on the right track within hospitality and the world of wine service they would be Hugh Powell and Doug Mousley during my college days in West Wales, they took a punt on me as I was a teenager who had strayed from the path a little. Next was my first head chef Dai Davis who provided me with a serious grounding in the kitchen world and then packed me off to London before I rested on my laurels.

My Brighton story would not be complete without my love and respect for Phil and Amanda of Terre a Terre, they inspired me to rip up the rule book, focus on taste, taste and taste again, respect the ingredients, respect each other and the planet but have shits and giggles on the way!

So much fun, a real family within a Brighton restaurant, and a Brighton institution.

Some of my favourite wine journeys were to the estates that Phil worked with, as Natural and Biodynamic as they came, back in the 90’s, preceding the current wave of natural wine list by a couple of decades.

The A frame sign outside Terre A terre. This vegetarian restaurant is one of Paul Morgans favourites and a place where he used to work.

Tell us about your wine-tasting events?

We are revising our events for 2024 over the next couple of weeks but have lots of exciting plans to shake things up a little!

Our legendary Sunday sessions and Thursday night Barstool Sessions have some great great guests lined up to host with the team.

We have some new plans for our private dining space downstairs with some smaller intimate gatherings with winemakers and friends.

Look out for all the information relating to the tastings by signing up for our newsletter on our website.

a busy wine bar and restaurant at Fourth and Church in Hove. Pictured plenty of wine glasses being filled and customers enjoying their Brighton wine tasting event

Which Sussex wines do you feature on your list?

● Sugrue
● BreakyBottom
● Lark and Folly
● Artelium
● Ridgeview
● Gusbourne
● Rathfinny
● Westwell
● Roebuck

A bottle of Gusbourne wine is being poured. Pictured a typically English pic nic.

A couple of Kentish vineyards/wineries in the mix, all very exciting in their own right.

A real privilege to have such a diverse selection available to list with a great pedigree of Sussex winemakers and projects on our doorstep.

How do you read a customer and find the best bottle of wine suited to them?

A warm welcome usually is the start of a conversation leading to hints as to why they are visiting us and what they are looking for in a wine.

The majority of customers usually have an idea of what they like but quite often will try something new.

I want guests to feel comfortable with their choices and feel they receive value for money.

A busy evening at Fourth and Church in Hove. Wine tasting event

Which dishes are your customers enjoying ?

Our Chicken Liver Parfait with compressed Oloroso grapes, pickled mustard seeds, and homemade toasted brioche is a super rich, joyous dish, so pretty in presentation and delicious. February will see the return of our plant-based version of Porcini Mushroom parfait with Madeira wine. Our braised Trenchmore Sussex Wagyu Beef with thyme and horseradish gremolata, potato and bone marrow croquette has been a huge hit over Christmas but will also give way to braised Cumbrian lamb shoulder, pomegranate molasses, aubergine, cultured zoug, and preserved lemon labneh next week.

a delightful plate of food at Fourth and Church. yellow egg yolks are popping out

How is your business adapting to current economic conditions?

Flexibility is key, more than ever before, being able to adapt our offering quickly to current social and economic conditions is vital. An advantage of small, owner/operator businesses makes this viable while maintaining the core principles and ethics of our brand.

What advice would you give to an aspiring wine enthusiast?

Have an open mind and never pigeonhole a wine, re-visit something you think you don’t like. Talk to the people who produce or sell wine, don’t be afraid to try and articulate what sort of thing you like and throw caution to the wind now and then.
Don’t get lost in the detail, try the wine then work backwards on the detail, it will make more sense that way!

Annie is pouring wine at Fourth and Church while diners are eating at their bar area. Located in Church Road in Hove.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Business is a challenge, being equipped with every skill set needed to run a small business is a challenge and involves lots of hard work. I feel the government should support hospitality and tourism a lot more.

Hospitality is a major employer and it needs help in shaking off the image that it’s a poor sector to work in.

However, it has provided me with a great lifetime career and the opportunity to set up a business that I genuinely love and affords me fantastic opportunities and experiences.

Favourite Sussex Supplier?

I’ve always had the utmost respect for Peter and Christina Hall and their wonderful wines from Breaky Bottom. We used to live in Rodmell and in addition to impromptu visits, I always enjoyed dragging the kids up onto the Downs with a small picnic and enjoying the view over the vineyard!

More recently Dermot Sugrue’s wines are always exciting with lots of cuvees receiving his winemaking skills. Artelium has some pretty cool still and sparkling wines on recent release.

It is your last supper, which bottle of wine would you choose and what food would you choose to eat with it?

Last supper would have to be with all those people who I love, one bottle would not be enough! Warm weather, meze and snacks followed by lots of grilling on the BBQ. The selection would all be different and relevant to who was at the party, chosen with love!

How do you relax?

Exploring Sussex and Kent. We are so close to miles of coastline and great countryside, fresh air. I love walking, it clears the busy mind!

At home, cooking, podcasts and reading, as well as the obligatory couch potato time, watching music or train documentaries!

Favourite places to dine in Brighton and Sussex?

Locally I favour an evening at The Greys on Southover St, delicious food, beer, wine and a lovely atmosphere.

Planet India and Manjus are also local and great for plant-based dining.

Wild Flor Senior Chef de Partie. Exterior of Wild Flor.

I’ve had great evenings at Plateau and Wild Flor in the last month or so, as well as Dill and Squisito in Lewes.

On the list are Dilsk and a well-overdue visit to Furna.

Pictured, chefs in Brighton. Industry rate in Brighton

What does Paul Morgan like to eat when he’s at home with the family?

We like a good Ramen with a custardy soy egg and I make mean fried rice. I’ve taken years to perfect a Spanish Tortilla (No Onion just potato!) Just perfect with a carefully curated line of Kewpie Mayo and Sriracha hot sauce over a warm slice with a glass of cold Fino.

Lots of seasonal comfort food in the colder months then grilling with a Persian-Levant influence over coal/wood outside in the warmer months.

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