Brighton Food Reviewer: Jodie Wallis, March 2016
As we walked into the stylish but understated restaurant on Church road on a bitterly cold Thursday evening, the first thing I noticed was the music. The smooth and seductive voice of Ben E King filled the restaurant. I was quite surprised as I was preparing myself to block out ‘hip and modern’ tunes which really aren’t my cup of tea. So the sound of soulful classics was a good start to the evening.
Stripped back decor
SkyFall in Hove doesn’t stand out as such on Church Road, but there is something that draws you in. As I said it’s stylish but in an understated way. Inside, the decor is very modern with the industrial look which many Brighton and Hove restaurants have taken to. Snaking pipes on the ceiling, long shadeless lightbulbs hanging down and electrical plug sockets with usb outlets line the tops of the leather benches. There are little cacti in tin pots on the tables and simple table settings. The main feature is the funky and contemporary wine rack on the wall which is more a piece of art which just so happens to be functional.
A warm atmosphere
The smiley waitress asked us where we would like to sit as it was a quiet evening. We chose a corner seat away from the door. The atmosphere was warm and cozy which again surprised me given the decor. I tend to feel that the industrial look of bars and restaurants are cool as in ‘trendy’ but can also be cool in atmosphere. Somehow Skyfall manages to avoid this trade off.
With the soul classics continuing, we sit back and begin to peruse the menu. There’s the a la carte menu as well as a set menu and a few daily specials. We’re both in the mood for fish which is unusual for us, as usually steak wins the contest.
Fish – not only for Fridays…
Mackerel is my favourite fish so I’m instantly drawn to this which features on the main menu. Scorched Skin Mackerel Salsa Verde, Puy Lentils, Salt Baked Beetroot. Tommy is more of a cod fan so when the friendly waitress reads out the specials, he is sold. Oven Roasted Cod Steak, Cream and Chorizo Potato Gnocchi. He’s never had gnocchi before but I tell him that I think he will like it.
We weren’t planning on having a starter but once we saw the choices we changed our minds. Sticking with the fish theme of the evening, Tommy went for the Pan Seared Scallops, Potato Purée, Pancetta, Crackling, Apple Caramel, Crispy Sage.
I wasn’t surprised he still managed to get meat into both his fish dishes!
I went for something much lighter and more delicate: the Brighton Gin Salmon Gravlax, Dill Potato Salad, Lemon Jelly, Olive Oil Powder. I wasn’t sure about the olive oil powder but it intrigued me as it wasn’t something I’d come across before. Most of the dishes on SkyFall’s menu are based on honest, traditional ingredients but presented in a unique way.
Shaken not stirred – with a popcorn twist!
SkyFall is known for it’s superb cocktails. It felt more like a wine evening than cocktails but I did have a look at the menu for future reference. Mostly classics with a few wildcards. I particularly liked the look of the popcorn martini! Might have made a nice dessert if I hadn’t have been driving. We asked our waitress if the name SkyFall had anything to do with James Bond. She said the only connection was the owner’s love of martinis!
Tommy decided to break all the rules and go for a nice glass of Malbec with his fish. I figured he’d be ok though as the chorizo in his main course would give his dish a fair bit of warmth and spice. I stuck with white, and went for a nice cold glass of Pinot Grigio. It was lovely and fruity with notes of apple and honey. Delicious. Tommy’s Malbec was smooth and fruity.
Amusing our palettes
When waiting for our starters, we were given an amuse bouche. What a lovely surprise. This was a chicken and chorizo terrine on a charcoaled cracker topped with apple chutney and a pickled chantenay carrot. It was very tasty even more so as weren’t expecting it. A rare touch.
When the starters arrived the enticing smell of roast pork hit my nose. This was Tommy’s scallop dish. The flavours of the pancetta, crackling, apple and sage all mingled with the fresh scallops giving a result which was stunning. A very clever, wintery seafood starter. The salmon gravlax with the potato salad was quite a different starter and gave much more of a glimpse of spring and summer. It was light, delicate and fresh. Absolutely lovely. Both dishes were portioned well not filling us up too much in preparation for our mains.
Hearty potions & clever flavours
This was a good thing as both our mains when they arrived were good, hearty portions. Tommy’s cod steak was a good size and it rested on a large portion of creamy gnocchi. The cream sauce of the gnocchi had been cooked with chorizo which gave it a lovely warm and spicy tone of orangey red. The cod was obviously super fresh as when you cut into it, it flaked away like fresh fish should. Again, SkyFall showed they knew how to make flavours work together. It was delicious.
My mackerel was quite different. Two fillets with the scorched skin up, were sitting on a large portion of puy lentils. Scattered over the fish were cubes of salt baked beetroot and a lovely green salsa verde. The flavours were earthy and robust. I couldn’t quite finish it all, but when I did finish what I could manage I felt very satisfied and fulfilled. You could taste the goodness in the dish as well as all the fabulous flavours.
We didn’t want the evening to end there, so we decided to go all out, and go for dessert. The waitress lit up when we said we would and gave us a recommendation. As we both generally read the dessert section before anything else, we told her that we already knew what we were having. Tommy ‘the chocoholic’ went with the recommendation: Dark Chocolate Brownie, Honeycomb, Vanilla Ice Cream, Drunken Cherries, Fruit Liquor. I cannot resist any dessert which features coffee so went for the Iced Espresso Parfait, Hazelnut Praline, Honey and Vanilla Clotted Cream.
Both desserts lived up to expectations. They were rich, generous and decadent. Tommy didn’t say much when eating his brownie which is always a giveaway. Focused and intent on devouring his dessert without any distractions! The only thing he wasn’t keen on was the drunken cherries which was good for me. They exploded in your mouth and each one was like a sip of a cherry martini. Heavenly. Almost.
The iced espresso parfait was as close to heaven as any dessert can get in my eyes. The flavours and contrasting textures were incredible. Possibly the best dessert I’ve had in a restaurant. And I’ve had a few!
So, overall my verdict of SkyFall is to go. Pay a visit whether it’s for a light dinner and a drink, or a full blown meal out. The atmosphere is warmer than you’d expect, the food is of high quality, affordable and cleverly and creatively executed. Supporting local businesses, most of their fish comes from local fish supplier MCB. There is also live music Thursday-Sunday. A real all rounder and a stylish addition to the foodie establishments of Church Road in Hove.