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A Breath of The Country in Soho – Sussex
It’s always reassuring when somewhere you loved when you first visited turns out to be a real success. The Gladwin Brothers, Oliver, Richard and Gregory opened The Shed in Notting Hill way back in 2012. The combination of Chef, Restaurateur and Farmer proved magical and we loved the quasi bucolic interior, the relaxed approach to dining and the excellent food, freshly sourced from the family farm in Sussex. They’ve gone from strength to strength and now, with the opening of Sussex Restaurant Soho, run four restaurants in London which all offer real, contemporary British food – nothing too fancy and yet somehow on a different level to the food I make for myself at home.
We’ve feasted at the Shed and at Nutbourne, their venture in Battersea, though we’ve never been to Rabbit on the Kings Road simply because it’s always busy. I was particularly excited to learn that they had a new restaurant in Soho – perhaps the biggest challenge for them yet – but one which for me is on home territory in part of London where I like to meet friends for lunch or for an evening out.
The Sussex is just a little bit swanky and somehow quite Soho in styling, and yet unmistakably ‘Gladwin Brothers’. There’s cheese resting on the counter and bottles of Nutbourne wine from the family estate lining the shelves.
We are welcomed by Richard with a glass of Nutty Wild, which, at 10% abv, we agree is a good choice for an aperitif. Made from 100% Pinot Noir, it’s a young, lightly sparkling wine which, with zero dosage, is nicely crisp and dry.
Homemade bread and butter arrives and despite our best intentions is devoured quickly. And, while we are working through the menu, we pick on a little pot of tempura garden herbs with dill infused creme fraiche.
I’m tempted to try this one at home – such a simple and excellent way to start a meal. Crisp and fragrant with the lightest of tempura batter it’s one of four or five snacks on the menu that are not part of the set price lunch and theatre menu we are enjoying. But at £4, why not!
Next up, partridge saltimbocca for me, wrapped in pancetta and stuffed with smoked gouda, served on a bed of kale with mustard cream and pickled mushrooms on the side. A substantial starter which I thoroughly enjoy.
My companion’s monkfish carpaccio with aubergine, lemon, chilli and toasted pinenuts is a picture on a plate but considerably lighter than my option. As a result, he enthusiastically offers to prepare our shared main course of pan-roast brill which is served on the bone (the team at Sussex Restaurant are happy to do the job for us, but I do understand the cathartic nature of filleting a perfectly cooked whole fish).
The brill comes with sides of roast potatoes, an assortment of green vegetables, crispy roast potatoes and grilled wild mushrooms together with a bearnaise sauce. It’s carefully cooked – firm-fleshed and meaty. Thanks to the generous saltimbocca, I manage a generous quarter – while my companion is happy to eat the remainder. It’s delicious though – and another time I’ll be picking a lighter starter. It’s the kind of fish you know might have been swimming in the sea a few days earlier.
We enjoy more Nutbourne wine with the meal – Sussex Reserve 2018, which is a blend of Bacchus and a few other Germanic grapes – all served in Nutbourne’s own Reisling style glasses
Then, just for the sake of research, we order dessert – a chocolate mousse with 70% chocolate and raspberry sorbet which is every bit as delicious as it looks.
We’ll be back, I am sure – if only because the set lunch menu at Sussex Restaurant Soho is also available as a pre-theatre – and for this quality of food offers excellent value at £24.00 for two courses or £28 for three. But, I’d love to try the intimate Chef’s Table downstairs – and the Sussex Sunday Roast sounds phenomenal too!
63-64 Frith Street