The Wardroom Brighton Evening Review
The days lengthen, the clouds lift and summer beckons like a long lost friend; there is perhaps no better city to be in right now than Brighton. As the sun dances across the English channel and the pull of the water becomes undeniable, locals and tourists alike flock down to the seafront, looking for the perfect spot to take it all in.
OLD LADY, FRESH FACE
The Old Ship Hotel provides exactly that. Sitting astride the promenade like a grand old lady, this seasoned local welcomes visitors into her bosom, albeit with rather the facelift of late. The Wardroom Brighton – formerly Steak On Sea – has been completely rejuvenated and it’s clear its owners have their sights set on joining Brighton’s list of fine dining restaurants.
FROM LIVELY ATMOSPHERE TO QUIET RELAXATION
I’m greeted with a warm welcome, ushered to my seat at a window table, looking out onto the Brighton seafront and the glistening waters beyond.
The place is bright but not breezy, the tones calm and subdued, the atmosphere one of gentle connivance.
The room is decorated in tones of amiable tempest, soft grey velvet tablecloths sitting under crisp white linen, a backdrop to gleaming silverware. The feel is one of the sea, white crests upon darker waves, rising and falling throughout the dining room.
INDULGE IN FINE WINES & ILLUSTRIOUS SPIRITS
Restaurant manager Toby informs me that the restaurant can seat 177 at full capacity, which they were at only days ago thanks to the mini April heatwave. It’s not surprising that The Wardroom Brighton and its sister dining areas attract such a large crowd, especially on sunny days. We indulge in a crisp, sweet glass of Rose Zinfandel, taken from a menu that celebrates bright whites and rich reds, illustrious spirits and a healthy amount of cocktails.
TRADITIONAL WITH AN INTERNATIONAL TWIST
The revised food menu is a modern take on British; traditional in spirit but drawing on a rainbow of international flavours – the kitchen no doubt joyfully unleashed from the previous titular element of ‘steak’. Developed by chef Phil Mesquita, who trained under Brighton’s Michelin-starred chefs then earned his stripes working for major hotel chains like Hilton, the selection ranges from fresh soups celebrating local produce to vegetable medleys dousing themselves in South East Asian flavours like kimchi and miso.
Starters include chickpea and spinach koftas, torched mackerel, jerk chicken with goat’s curd and rum pineapple, and a sumptuous curried lamb neck with mango ketchup, cauliflower bhajee and burnt onion, which we more than happily plump for. The lamb neck virtually disintegrates under the fork, it’s so tender, and the subtle blend of spices shines against the brightness of the mango ketchup.
FLORA, FAUNA, FOWL AND FISH
The Asian influence returns with the mains, soy duck breast with crispy wontons, bok choi and spiced radish sitting confidently alongside succulent wood pigeon with rainbow chard, sweetcorn, spiced cherry and hazelnut. Steak may be removed from the name but it’s still celebrated on the menu.
On the flipside those of a vegan or vegetarian persuasion are cared for with dukkha spiced halloumi or king oyster mushrooms.
Although the pan fried cod and mussels both sing to us, ultimately we dive headfirst into black bream with anchovy and basil fregola, samphire and grilled asparagus. The asparagus are thick and hearty, their natural, earthy bite giving the dish thickness and body against the more delicate ocean flavours of the bream and samphire.
The dessert menu is probably the most ‘British’ act of the meal, gin poached rhubarb duelling with apple creme brulee and banana mille fuille for your attention.
In the end though, it’s the promise of strawberries that tempt our tastebuds.
Smooth, unctuous wild strawberry and elderflower parfait and subtle sweetness of marshmallow and creme pat sets up the crisp, crunchy slap of sugar from a wafer thin layer of strawberry snap.
DELICIOUS AND DELIGHTFUL
So how does the new restaurant stack up? The food is undeniably delicious, the location is one of the best in the city, the ambience and decor are both delightful and entirely on point, and the staff and the service really lift it beyond the ordinary. Ultimately, The Wardroom Brighton offers a truly delicious way to enjoy one of the best views this beautiful country has to offer.