Go Big, Go to The Grand!

Brighton Food Reviewer, Sarah Gathercole, June 2015

Sometimes we all have a reason to go big and tonight we are dining at the Grand.  This beautiful, regency building is one of Brighton’s more up market venues, adding some class to Brighton’s seafront.  Much more than wonderful architecture, fancy suites and sea views, we have decided to take a stroll down the front to find what GB1 – seafood restaurant and bar – has to offer in the steak department.

GB1 Restaurant, steak review, The Grand Hotel, Brighton
Dining at the Grand

We are not so used to the greeting we get on arrival.  The Grand oozes history and importance; this place feels special, and the staff will do their best to make you feel the same.  After our coats are taken in exchange for a leather tag, we are seated, side by side and looking out to sea.  Sitting on the terrace this evening is not an option, but we find this a very worthy compromise.

The restaurant itself is separated into two sections: the main dining area with a rather striking fish bar boasting original features and a chandelier, and the bright and more contemporary Victoria Lounge where we are this evening.  Our waiter is introduced to us, and drink menus are close at hand.  Joris – with his wonderfully welcoming smile and informed recommendations – will be helping us settle into our impressive setting.

GB1 Restaurant, Grand Hotel, Fish, Seafood, Oysters, seafront
Bright and Contemporary – GB1 Restaurant

Everything at The Grand is considered.  The seasonally changing a la carte menu is complemented by additional mid-week, seafood afternoon tea, breakfast, cocktail and children’s menus, not to mention the chef’s specials.  Clearly an expert in everything fish, The Grand is known for its finest selection of freshly caught seafood. It might surprise you then that we are here in search of the perfect steak.

We are in no rush tonight; there is a surprisingly relaxed vibe in here and we are happy to comply.  Joris is attentive and makes sure we pick the perfect wine to go with our steaks – a Pinot Noir from New Zealand, one of his favourites.  It tastes great and we are happy.  He sets a precedent for the evening – we know we are in capable hands.

GB1 Restaurant, steak review, The Grand Hotel, Brighton
Pinot Noir from New Zealand

We eagerly eye up the starters, every dish sounding as enticing as the next.  I dance around the incredibly intriguing treacle cured salmon, with fennel and radish salad and liquorice ice-cream, arriving finally at the scallop starter.  My partner can’t decide between the meaty option – sliced lamb, prosciutto, pickled heritage carrots, piccalilli and red wine syrup – and the vibrant sounding, yet simply named, ‘Beetroot’.  We decide to fly the fish and veggie flag, our mains will have the carnivores covered.

GB1 Restaurant, steak review, The Grand Hotel, Brighton

We are spoilt for choice with the ‘Grills’.  Aged Aberdeen black grain fed beef, personally selected and matured, ensures the rib-eye and fillet on offer will be of the highest quality.  The Blythburgh pork belly, boneless rib glazed with Manuka honey, has my partner momentarily deviating away from the steak we came for; the thought of it leaving his mouth watering.

The ‘GB1 favourites’ also do their best to temp us.  Some particularly delicious sounding dishes almost do: the ‘Lobster Burger’ – minced coastal lobster, salmon and smoked bacon in a brioche bun – surely something different to try for all you burger lovers out there; the ‘Pollack ‘n’ Chips’ – Beer battered, Sussex Pollack with triple cooked chunky chips – a swankier take on a British classic; and ‘Fish Curry’ – south coast fish gently cooked in Thai spices, served with jasmine rice and sultana bread – a delicious sounding dish, bound to be perfect for full-on flavour fiends.

GB1 Restaurant, steak review, The Grand Hotel, Brighton

With the help of Joris, and the chef’s steak special, we finally make our order. Both come highly recommended and promise to satisfy our cravings. The ‘Surf ‘n’ Turf’ allows us a taste of sea, the perfect choice for the person who wants it all – me! The ‘Special’ sounds very special, so we have try it. We order both steaks rare; it is confirmed we have made the right choice.

The wine is going down too well, so we are happy to see the starters arrive colourful, beautiful and light. The Scallops are perfectly cooked and just melt in the mouth. They are effortlessly complemented by the sweetness of the Japanese Mirin and the salty, on-trend, samphire. Another nice touch is the lemongrass skewer holding the scallops neatly in a row on the rectangle slate they are served to us on.

GB1 Restaurant, steak review, The Grand Hotel, Brighton

The Beetroot starter is another example of stunning presentation, vivid purples and yellows pop out from the black serving slate willing us to get stuck in. The tartness and sweetness of the pickled beetroot is off-set by the lovely creamy Golden Cross Sussex goat’s cheese parfait – a marriage made in heaven. The onion crisps decorating the dish add visual depth and a variety of textures in the mouth. We are thrilled by our starters and devour them over zealously. Now we are really excited for our steak course!

We are told when ordering that sides would not be necessary, all Grills come with a selection of sides, although others are optional. We see straight away that this is indeed the case. Not some measly piece of meat and a side dish ordered (and paid for) separately. These glorious platefuls are generous, thoughtful and full of character!

GB1 Restaurant, steak review, The Grand Hotel, Brighton

My Surf ‘n’ Turf glistens. The prawns are fat, juicy and incredibly flavourful. The fillet is beautifully cooked – pink in the middle – with each mouthful tasting better than the last; the quality of the meat is undeniable. Although the winning elements of this meal, they are not alone on my plate. The wooden serving board bulges with two big field mushrooms, a roasted vine tomato and some watercress salad, along with a healthy – paper wrapped – portion of faultless chunky chips. A feast fit for a king!

Steak - cut

The special steak dish is equally as impressive and plentiful. Succulent rib-eye on the bone, decorated with a soft boiled egg and anchovies; the meat is distinctly different from the fillet, with more fat and a fuller flavour. It is paired up perfectly with the salty punch of the anchovies and parmesan and the yolky eggs. The lightness of the watercress salad and the accompanying asparagus ensure that the dish has colour and vibrancy, and the overall richness is seamlessly balanced. All of this is further complemented by a super creamy whip of mash potato!

At this point we are wondering if dessert can live up to what has come before it. Joris successfully converts us once again with his passionate descriptions. Without too much thought at all we have ordered the ‘Chocolate’ and the ‘Orange’. Like all the dishes on the GB1 menu, they are modestly named, but sure to taste fantastic.

GB1 Restaurant, steak review, The Grand Hotel, Brighton

We think it impossible to impress us further, we are wrong! The desserts bought to our table are a delight. Perfectly selected for us, one rich and chocolatey, the other light, creamy and peppered with flowers and berries. We start with the ‘Chocolate’ – the smoky bacon waffle ice-cream is a first for me and a frankly triumph. The fondant is warm, comforting, with an oozing chocolate centre, the cooked bananas work harmoniously and the salted pecans add a savoury crunch. A winning combination!

The ‘Orange’ is not to be overlooked either. Elegantly presented, less formidable, but equally as tasty. Not a fan of orange desserts, I am surprised to really enjoy the subtlety of this flavour in the panacotta. The small squares of sweet frangipane chocolate cake, the bite of the dried raspberries and crunch of the pistachio nut on the top, add texture and layers of flavour – panacotta just got very interesting!

GB1 Restaurant, steak review, The Grand Hotel, Brighton

This has been a lavish meal; one of the best for a while. I have honestly been surprised by dining at The Grand; I had always pigeon-holed it as a hotel – although clearly a very fancy one – and not really thought of it as a restaurant. I certainly wouldn’t have thought of it as my ‘go-to’ for a great steak restaurant.

Of course it is not an ‘any night of the week’ affair, this is ‘special occasion’, or ‘got a good pay cheque’ dining. Saying that, GB1 does great food, there’s no two ways about it.   And the service we have received tonight is second to none: knowledgeable, professional and super friendly. Sometimes it just feels worth splashing out, and I for one would highly recommend splashing out at GB1 next time you fancy a really great steak!

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