Last Updated on December 4, 2021
Masterchef Magic at etch. by Steven Edwards
I’m always impressed when restaurateurs have been able to use lockdown productively. Masterchef: The Professionals winner Steven Edwards has taken the opportunity to refurbish and to extend his Hove outpost etch. which only reopened a month ago. Steven has added a new basement bar – think local gins and vodkas and Steven’s delicious own vermouth – and a private dining room with its own kitchen.
We love Steven’s riverside Richmond restaurant Steven Edwards at the Bingham Riverhouse (see our review) so it was a pleasure to be asked to review etch. in Brighton’s genteel neighbour Hove.
With an open kitchen at the heart of the restaurant, it’s difficult not to be drawn into the culinary action.
Head chef George Boarer has put sustainability at the heart of the new menu, with new dishes being introduced every week and an emphasis on using the freshest local produce. It’s a tasting menu concept with the option of 5, 7 or 9 dishes. There is also good news for oenophiles with a list that majors in Sussex wines as well as more high-end bottles. A temperature controlled wine room is planned for 2022.
The new interior has been created by architect Akram Fahmi from London Design House. It is stylish with black and white walls and ceilings, organically shaped light fittings and light wooden floors. It’s a great example of how to turn a pub into a more contemporary space.
There are not many better ways to start a meal than with a glass of local Nyetimber Classic Cuvee with its gorgeous pastry and caramel notes with a hint of yuzu for freshness.
I loved the ‘Snacks’ course which featured two savoury treats. A mushroom and truffle doughnut featured a crisp bun sitting on a cream cheese base and then stuffed with a rich mushroom duxelle. Topped off with grated truffle it was super luxurious. With a saltier bite, a Parmesan crisp came with fluffy Parmesan cream and shavings of the cheese adding texture.
Steven’s Marmite Brioche has become one of his signature dishes for good reason. The glazed bread is wonderfully light and flavoured with subtle umami notes. A whipped seaweed butter added another layer of flavour very effectively.
The Soup of the Day was a frothy and rich Jerusalem artichoke velouté flavoured with a cep essence and with an artichoke crisp on top. I really enjoyed the way Steven builds seasonal savoury flavours into his dishes.
At this point, we moved onto a bottle of Excelsior Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine, Luneau-Papin, Loire, France 2018 with its smooth minerality and notes of dry orange peel emerging.
Chicory and walnut Tarte Tatin perched on a base of aubergine and covered with a blue cheese Waldorf salad and lovage oil was a great blend of taste and texture with just a hint of sweetness.
Pan-fried John Dory was a beautifully cooked piece of fish sitting in an intense brown shrimp bouillabaisse. With a crisp deep fried pastry fish cigar and a celeriac cream on the side, this was a dish I could eat every day!
Another signature dish is the ‘dippy egg’ – a gooey duck egg slow cooked for 1 hour and decorated with nasturtium and the acidity of a parsnip purée and pickle. Dipping the toasted brioche soldiers into the egg felt very indulgent. As a dish, it’s really sophisticated baby food!
A sweet-tasting seared Orkney scallop sat under a charred leek and a burnt leek purée with an inside out prawn toast and leek oil adding colour and crunch. I was expecting the leek to be unpleasantly bitter but it added rich caramel notes and didn’t overpower our favourite bivalve. For seasonality, you couldn’t beat the roasted chicken of the woods mushroom in a rich red wine sauce and with a carrot and tarragon spring roll. It was a plate full of lovely autumnal savoury flavours.
I always order an English cheese dessert if I can. Edmond Tew with its washed rind is similar to a French Langres. The rind has a definite nuttiness to it with a soft interior featuring lactic acidity. The sweetness of a fig sorbet and honey and thyme roasted figs created a great accompaniment to the cheese.
Chocolate Caribe was based on 66% cocoa Valrhona and was a Caribbean chocolate fondant with white chocolate ice cream and winter truffle. The result was a sensational chocolate dessert that blended brilliantly with the truffle and the ice cream
A wonderful blackberry parfait was plated with a blackberry gel and dehydrated blackberry powder. A shortbread biscuit and a sheep’s yoghurt sorbet added crunch and tang.
I love the funky elegance of Hove and etch. fits right into that mould. For really interesting flavours, great cooking and service that is friendly and relaxed but totally on point it should be a must-visit if you’re in the area.
For reservations visit: https://www.exploretock.com/etch
etch. by Steven Edwards,
214-216 Church Road,
East Sussex, BN3 2DJ