Seafront dining at The Copper Clam
I’ve lived in Brighton for a decade but the novelty of dining on the seafront still hasn’t worn off. Whether it’s eating alfresco on a summer evening or sitting inside and watching a winter storm, you really can’t beat it, yet only a handful of restaurants have the privilege of being right on the beach.
One of these is The Copper Clam – a new seafood restaurant that opened its doors last year and is about to embark on its first full summer season. Visiting in April, before the summer mayhem kicked in, I headed there on a Friday evening with my partner Tommy and good friend Anna.
Superb sea views
There’s no need to worry about booking a sea-view table at The Copper Clam – apart from the two booth areas for larger parties (which are set a little further back), all indoor seating looks directly over the beach, and the outside tables are right by the pebbles.
We’d been hoping to eat outside but, with rain clouds threatening, we went indoors where the bar and restaurant area are located on the first floor. Here, my east-facing seat gave me a fantastic view of Brighton Pier, while Anna and Tommy had a sunset view of the West Pier.
While we sat back and enjoyed the scenery, I ordered a glass of house white wine (Les Vignerons Colombard), Anna had the Picpoul de Pinet, and Tommy went for a Meantime Pale Ale. The drinks menu also features a choice of tempting cocktails, plus six sparkling wines and champagnes.
Seven oyster options
As we perused the menu we were faced with a problem: which of the seven types of oyster should we choose? From Calvados and cream, to bloody Mary, or bacon and Worcester sauce, they all sounded exciting.
Eventually, we settled on Champagne oysters (champagne brulee and shallots), and Rockefeller (spinach, garlic, breadcrumbs and Pernod). Both types were wonderfully fresh, absolutely enormous and completely grit-free. We all agreed that the Rockefellers were our favourite, with their garlicky coating, kick of Pernod, and crispy topping.
To be sure we’d have room to see the meal through to dessert, we ordered two starters between us: crab ravioli and king prawns with chilli.
Cooked al-dente, the handmade ravioli was coated in a delicate cream and dill sauce, with rich brown crabmeat inside each parcel, and a little white meat flaked on top. Equally tasty, our oversized king prawns had a good balance of chilli and garlic, with a garnish of bitter rocket.
There’s a focus on local, sustainable food at The Copper Clam, and as much as possible is ethically sourced. Some of the seafood is even hauled in right here on Brighton seafront, making it some of the freshest you can find.
Far more than fish
For mains, Tommy ordered the skate, Anna chose hake and grey mullet from the specials board, and I went all-out with one of the restaurant’s signature seafood platters. There’s also a good range of non-fish options on the menu, including grilled chicken salad, wild mushroom risotto, and a choice of four steaks – if you’re feeling adventurous, the ‘Carpetbagger’ is stuffed with oysters.
Scattered with capers, and served with black butter and emerald-green samphire, Tommy said his skate was ‘perfectly cooked,’ while Anna ‘mmm-ed and ahh-ed’ over her main: two thick chunks of fish in a fragrant fennel broth.
The seafood showstopper
My ‘seafood platter for one’ was the showstopper: an enormous plate of oysters, lobster, crab, crayfish, clams, mussels and two types of prawns, served with fresh samphire and a selection of sauces, dips and drizzles.
Starting with the oysters, I sprinkled my first one with Tabasco sauce, and ate the second and third with a dash of red wine vinegar and shallots. My prawns tasted particularly good with the herb and olive oil drizzle; and my mussels and clams were so fresh that I ate them with a simple squeeze of lemon.
Unlike some seafood platters I’ve had before, this one required very little work on my part: exceptionally well-prepared, every clam and mussel shell was perfectly ajar; and the lobster and crab had been pre-cracked so I could easily get at the meat inside.
The only unprepared item on my platter was the lobster’s enormous claw, which gave a satisfying snap when I tackled it with the lobster crackers. Inside, the sweet and meaty flesh tasted divine with a smear of saffron and garlic mayonnaise.
We also ordered a portion of perfectly crisped fries, and a vibrant green ‘Superfood Salad’ to share. But with The Cooper Clam’s healthy portion sizes, we struggled to finish them both.
Outrageously good ice-cream
While we digested our mains, Anna and I tried a glass of the Sicilian Grillo Lamura – a well-balanced white wine with citrus and floral notes. We both agreed that this was our favourite so far. With just enough room for a few mouthfuls of desert each, we decided to share one between us. The Copper Clam make their own ice-cream, so we went for the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Banana Sundae.
An excellent choice, we were soon digging our spoons into a decadent combination of flambéed bananas, peanut brittle, fresh cream, chocolate sauce and homemade peanut butter ice-cream – if only they sold this stuff in tubs!
When we stepped out of the restaurant and onto the beach, the lights of Brighton Pier were twinkling brightly and the i360 was slowly ascending above the city. With its exciting menu and show-stopping seafood, The Copper Clam is a great new addition to the seafront scene.