Tom Flint: a standout steak and a smooth sorbet

The Denver steak with mushroom ketchup at the Isaac At and Trenchmore Farm dinner
The Denver steak with mushroom ketchup at the Isaac At and Trenchmore Farm dinner

By the time you are reading this the Brighton and Hove Food Festival will be over for another year.

I hope that you managed to get out and enjoy some of it. I was able to make it along to a few events and will be telling you all about them in the coming weeks, starting with dinner at Isaac At.

The smooth cider and lemon thyme sorbet

The smooth cider and lemon thyme sorbet

Isaac At has been with us for a few years now, evolving from a weekly pop-up to a more regular restaurant experience. The intimate restaurant often features in listings for Brighton’s top places to eat. Its Sussex fine dining concept is all about keeping things local wherever possible, providing diners with a list of suppliers and the food miles travelled. The festival event was very much a local affair, teaming the restaurant with Trenchmore Farm.

Trenchmore Farm supplies grass-fed Sussex wagyu beef and Silly Moo Cider. The beef is highly prized for its superb quality. Joanne and Andrew Knowles realised a lifelong dream in taking on the farm near Cowfold, branching out into the world of cider when they planted an orchard in an empty field. Silly Moo Cider is the result of this expansion. They create it using their own apples and those provided by the public during their annual apple swap.

The festival event was set to see the team at Isaac create a five-course meal showcasing Trenchmore produce in each. It promised to be a match made in heaven.

After some pre-snacks, it kicked off with a vegetable starter of cauliflower with beef fat and smoked apple. It was an elegantly plated dish that whetted the appetite for things to come. This was followed by a second starter of oxtail casserole with mashed potato. It was a deceptively light dish and the most delicate casserole I’ve eaten. The beef was the star of the show here with a rich flavour matched by the luxuriously buttery mash.

The delicate oxtail casserole with luxurious mash

The delicate oxtail casserole with luxurious mash

The main of Denver steak with mushroom ketchup really celebrated the quality of Trenchmore beef and was cooked to perfection. The meat was superb and I could happily have been given a large slab of this and nothing else. Throughout the meal we were treated to a host of Sussex wines, all introduced by the front of house team.

A palate-cleansing cider and lemon thyme sorbet reminded me how well the Isaac At team can freeze things; the sorbet was so smooth and delicate. We finished with a strangely familiar dessert of almond cake, pink peppercorn and apple ice cream, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

It was great to see restaurants and producers working together in such harmony and celebrating the produce of the area. The steak was an absolute standout element of the meal and I wished there was a little more. I enjoyed the English wine pairing, although I still feel we do not have the right conditions for a truly exceptional red. My only criticism was the length of wait between courses, however, it was a fantastic meal.