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Sophisticated seaside sustenance at Drakes Brighton:
There’s something quite special about a boutique hotel with a good restaurant, especially when you love fine dining as much as me. Having a mid-winter Brighton short break staying at Drakes, a top UK boutique hotel, I learnt that The Restaurant at Drakes had yet again received the highest score for a Brighton restaurant in The Good Food Guide 2018. A great opportunity to review this top Brighton Restaurant then tumble conveniently into bed after my feast!
The hotel is on the seafront, a stone’s throw from the iconic Palace Pier and the restaurant sits in a stylish but cosy basement room decorated in Tuscan tones and with arty food photos on the wall. We started off with a glass of Albourne Estate, Cellar Selection, Sussex, 2015 – a creamy Ortega and Chardonnay blend with a hint of oak – and nibbled on some deliciously warm rosemary focaccia.
As amuse-bouche, out came some tender, grilled cuttlefish sweetened with a splash of balsamic vinegar and a gently piquant tartare sauce. It’s always good to see cuttlefish on a menu and this was expertly cooked.
Roasted mixed squash soup with whipped cinnamon creme fraiche was a perfect winter’s starter; warm and rich with a hint of spice.
Perfectly seared scallops came with an intense, creamy chervil root puree, delicate langoustine foam and crisp broccoli leather – four contrasting but complementary flavours coming together in an ensemble – a bit like the Beatles really…
Delicious coriander and sobrasado crusted cod was given a zingy lift by a citrus beurre blanc which was mopped up by a moreish spring onion pomme puree.
The standout dish for me was a plate of homemade chestnut gnocchi, with wild mushrooms, confit egg yolk with trufﬂe, fontina and a sage butter sauce. It was rich, luxurious and beautifully executed. It transported me to an imaginary forest in Umbria where, coming home after a day of wood-chopping, my fantasy beautiful Italian wife had prepared this dish for me.
As a pre-dessert the intense citrus flavour of a Kalamanzi sorbet (a Japanese fruit which just could be this year’s yuzu) made my taste buds stand to attention again. Plating sorbet on a slate isn’t the best idea though as it melts so quickly!
A papaya and passion fruit bavarois was immaculately constructed with a stem ginger ice cream acting as a lovely counterpoint to the sweetness of the fruit.
Creating the perfect soufﬂé takes some technique and this apple crumble version with a sultry creme Anglaise and deliciously sour blackberry sorbet delivered on all fronts.
With 2 courses at £34, 3 courses at £45 and 4 at £56 including an extra savoury course, Drakes Restaurant is unashamedly at the fine-dining end of the market. But for that, you’re getting top quality ingredients and a kitchen that really knows how to balance flavours and textures, a top Brighton restaurant.
The small plate revolution can’t deliver the sophistication of fine dining and if that’s what you crave or if you have a special occasion to celebrate then there is no better place to go in Brighton than Drakes.
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43-44 Marine Parade
Disclosure: As guests of Drakes of Brighton all food photography has been supplied by the hotel and is copyright Drakes of Brighton.