Tom Flint: A venue that continues to innovate
When you visit a restaurant, what is the main thing you are looking for?
Some just want a good time, some great food and a nice atmosphere. Others may be looking for a unique dining experience. Some probably just want to get out of the house and not have to worry about the washing up.
One Brighton restaurant that aims to satisfy those in the second category is Silo. Its zero-waste approach has gained many admirers and now in its third year it continues to innovate. Silo has joined forces with one of the UK’s most highly respected and awarded cocktail experts – Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan. His approach to cocktails is a perfect match to the ideology of Silo, utilising foraged and ethically sourced ingredients to create wonderful concoctions.
The evening’s title, A New Dawn, not only referenced the cocktail bar collaboration but also the rum featured in the welcome cocktail. Produced in the Dominican Republic and aged for 18 years, New Dawn Rum then spends 45 days on a sail boat named the Tres Hombres as it crosses the Atlantic. It is quite a story, see the New Dawn Traders website.
On to the meal itself. I admit that when eating at Silo in the past I have struggled with some of the dishes and this meal was no different. Doug McMaster likes to push the boundaries in terms of produce and combinations.
Things started with the punchy rum cocktail – New Dawn Rum packs a flavourful hit – and the always superb Silo bread and butter. This was joined by some delightful fermented swede that added texture and some bite and was followed by a vibrant brined green tomato with fermented grapes. It was a fabulous dish that celebrated the tomato in a way I’ve not encountered before.
Parsley root with apples and whey divided the table; personally I was on the nay side. The flavours didn’t do it for me. Next up was a Silo classic of beetroot, Stichelton and potato dumplings. This I enjoyed immensely with its mix of earthy flavours and comforting textures – I could have eaten it all evening.
A pre-dessert of cobnuts, elderberry and rose was a little too grainy and lacking enough sweetness or tart flavours for my palate. However, the dessert featuring a luxuriously smoky peated barley ice cream and raspberries is a pleasing finish to the meal.
Silo continues to divide opinion, and not just that of this reviewer. I cannot fault the concept and passion that is driving the restaurant forward, leading the way in showing how food can be done differently. Not all the dishes worked for my taste, but even when a dish doesn’t delight in terms of flavour you can appreciate the thought behind it. The addition of a cocktail bar backed by an expert goes to show that Silo continues to be one of the city’s most innovative restaurants, and one that is helping to raise Brighton’s profile as a food city.