Tuesday, 24 September 2013
Monday, 1 July 2013
Coconut bread, lemon curd cream cheese, rhubarb 7.5
Raclette and spinach French toast, bacon, watercress 9-
Smoked haddock and leek rarebit, poached eggs, rocket 8.5
Parmesan grits, girolles, boar sausage 9-
Corn & morcilla fritters, avocado, paprika crème fraiche 9-
Salt beef bubble, poached eggs, spinach, hollandaise 9-
Jalapeno corn bread, fried eggs, black beans, guindilla pepper 8.5
Baked eggs, tomato pepper ragout, Greek yoghurt, toast 7.5
- with chorizo sausage 9.5
Poached eggs, aubergine puree, yoghurt, sumac, parsley, toast 8.5
- with soutsouki sausage 9-
Caravan Fry: Eggs, field mushrooms, tomato compote, bacon 9-
- with sourdough or grain toast
Imaginative, exciting, and unusual in the best sense of the word, certainly for a 'Bill's-esque' restaurant. And Bills is precisely the reference point, for it was there that I first started to appreciate a good brunch.
The Salt-beef, while being trendy, was divine. A crispy-fried ball of Shredded meat & bubble & squeak, waiting to be mashed amorously together with perfect poached egg, HOMEMADE Hollandaise, and lightly wilted spinach. It was The Dark Knight to eggs Benedicts' Batman Begins - a sequel unlikely to ever be bettered.
The place was booming, packed to the industrial rafters. The breakfast Martini could (should) have been better, but the coffee was perfect. The service wasn't ideal - art students who did things painfully slowly, and without much of a smile - but it mattered not one bit, the menu meant I would leave desperate to return.
Sadly, Bills has since become a monstrous, nationwide machine, and any creativity they once oozed is long gone.
Here in Brighton, I await the heir to their throne, and keep my fingers crossed that one day soon, something as inventive as Caravan comes to town.
Sunday, 30 June 2013
Tuesday, 7 May 2013
While it is all to easy as a consumer to get excited about selecting an eatery on the basis that it serves that dish you recently discovered that works so well, it can often lead to bitter disappointment.
Take the following items, for instance...
Hot Smoked Salmon
All of them you have probably seen on several menus over the past twelve to eighteen months. All of them, if prepared authentically, are wonderful. All of them, however, have been bastardised to such a degree that while the essence & taste may be in tact, the soul (if you will) has been ripped from it.
My first salted caramel experience was in the form of a salted caramel rolo, in Hawksmoor, Spitalfields. It was wonderful. After a luxuriously greedy meat feast, when you certainly couldn't manage a pudding, these little fellas were just the ticket.
But since then, it has appeared left right and centre, most notably at coop in the form of a "cheesecake".
The most devastating though, the one that really grates on me, the the pulled pork explosion.
Brought to my attention via Guy Fieri on the food network. Diners, Drive ins & Dives across the states have been producing this dish as long as we've been battering cod. But they've been producing it with heart, passion, sweat and soul, literally.
From the amorous yet delicate blends that go into a pre-rub, to the temp and duration of its smoking - you just can't help but fall in love with the process.
And I appreciate not everybody is as romantically involved with food as others. I know that to many, as long as it tastes good, what's the bother? My concern is that is we're not careful, the over-saturation will end up destroying the original product. The genuine geniuses who put these on our plates with passion and enthusiasm, will not longer be able to afford to do it.
My most recent example of this stems from somewhere I nearly worked for. A new operation, I was afforded the opportunity to discuss 'menu direction' with the incoming head chef. I had a knowledge of the area, clientele etc, and therefore was asked for my input. On suggesting house-smoking joints of meat, like pulled pork.... "Pulled what?" Said the chef.
Anyway, I didn't work there in the end. But I popped in when it opened to read the menu. Alongside a very 90's menu of Thai curries, overpriced steaks and pastas, platters of smoked brisket & pulled pork. No wording on the process. No option for the sides. No selection of house sauces. No soul.
I write about this because I think people, consumers, diners, are more in tune with authenticity now. Like shopping for antiques, we can spot a dusty old gem through a pile of rubbish, over a cheap knock-off. We just have to do a bit of research first!
Wednesday, 6 March 2013
100% Local Sussex Beef. 6oz patty. 35 Day Aged. Floured Sour dough. The components are getting a more & more elaborate description. The consumer, gleefully willing to pay more & more for the privilege.
The question is (not least in light of THE HORSE SCANDAL), why are we suddenly so obsessed with detail? Sure, when ordering a fillet, it is expected that as part of the package we get to know exactly where that juicy cow came from. That chicken breast, corn-fed of course, resided happily in that farm we've never heard of from no further than 2.5 miles north of here.
The effect is a result of the cause, and the cause in this case is the social climate we live in. Those upper-middle classes who used to 'slum-it' with a guilty pleasure, now expect to do so in style. A Big Mac, or a 3-piece meal would still be unthinkable, but be damned if we're going to pay anymore for the pleasure.
Tied into this offering is the idea that you are in some way supporting your local community, sticking it to the man. It makes the whole experience almost holy & romantic, as we tear back the un-branded tin foil and ethically dispose of the brown paper bag.
So the search goes on. Every time I chow down on a marginally over-priced 'gourmet' burger, I am expecting it to be the greatest thing I have ever tasted, the answer to my prayers. But then another specialist emerges, whose beef is aged that bit longer, cooked over premium charcoal, surrounded by outrageously stinky cheeses, and with the option of a chip that the other place never quite got right.
The ultimate Burger experience may be upon us, my meat loving friends.
Saturday, 23 February 2013
If there are two things I like to do when indeed I am not conducting a successful service, it is eating out, and writing (not necessarily about eating out, until now). So while I enjoy working at the higher end of the market, with great chefs, serving inspiring food, pouring sensual wines and shaking elaborate cocktails, I have one major drawback... I work in hospitality. Therefore, as a father, I don't have the income to eat out all the often, especially not in places that are equally inspiring & ground breaking.
When I do have the opportunity, and the capital, I like to spend it on eating out with the woman of my dreams (someone who, I'm pleased to say shares my passion for great dining experiences). This isn't always an extravagant excursion. For every visit to Hawksmoor, there's two or three country pub lunches or safe branded conveniences.
Something that has come to my attention, particularly in these choking economic times, is that even at the higher end, the more refined venues are providing a more relaxed menu, with more comfortable items, with a more exciting atmosphere, with a wittier service. The lines are blurring. The tables are turning (hopefully literally in most restaurants). The mission, these days, far simpler. To put a smile on the face, arouse the buds, and fill the belly through perfection at all levels of hospitality. Any less is unacceptable & as I intend to point out, completely avoidable.
So why The Dirty Chicken? Well because as the classically carnivorous male that I am, some days I do want to eat out, some days I do want to spend a bit of money, but some days I want to spend that money on a box of fried chicken (preferably from an alternative/premium vendor, but not essential). Seasoned to perfection. Crispy, salty skin. Juicy, succulent flesh. Dirty fingers. Happy boy.