A bright future for pop-up restaurant

A real meat feast slow cooked for two days
A real meat feast slow cooked for two days

Contemporary British fine-dining served in an intimate and somewhat different space.

The simple act of going out for a meal has evolved over the years. While there is nothing wrong with simply grabbing a bite to eat, for many of us this is no longer sufficient.

Mackerel parfait, an exquisite dish

Mackerel parfait, an exquisite dish

Luckily for those diners who demand something more, the growth of pop-up restaurants and exclusive food events meets their needs. Isaac At promises an event that will last all evening.

The restaurant is only open on Friday and Saturday evenings offering an ever-changing five-course seasonal taster menu. The chefs - headed by the Isaac Bartlett-Copeland - personally source all the produce locally and build each week’s menu based on what they find.

The food is contemporary British fine-dining served in an intimate and somewhat different space – in a former life the building was the office of a financial advisor.

The chefs take centre stage - in their small open kitchen - allowing for an interactive experience that breaks down the barrier between kitchen and diner.

I was invited to one of their regular pop-up events; this time in association with Bison Beer - a craft beer shop located on East Street in Brighton. The taster menu had a classic pub food theme and was matched with three ales from Bison.

My friend and I took our seats at a table of eight; the space is small and so table sharing is a necessity. This would normally put me off but it actually added to the experience as we chatted to the other diners at our table.

We started with a lagerita cocktail and a pre-nibble of a salty pork scratching with lager hollandaise.

The starter had caught my eye since I first glimpsed the menu. A perfectly executed Scotch egg with crisp breadcrumbs coating rich gamey venison and a runny egg yolk; add to this a beautifully crafted pie packed with a dense pork filling and a homemade piccalilli. As starters go this was quite something although I felt the piccalilli was slightly too sharp. This was paired with Bison Beer’s own Beast Street IPA which was a surprisingly smooth and hoppy ale.

Next up the unexpected star of the evening. A mackerel parfait that was nothing short of exceptional.

This was served with a juicy sweet-tomato terrine and basil dressing. The crisp mackerel skin was the only element of the dish that did not quite work; but otherwise it was exquisite.

Pork belly came next. Slow-cooked for two days this was a joy, with a texture unlike any I had tried before.

This was served with a pork shoulder croquette beetroot ketchup and smoked apple puree. A veritable meat feast that was washed down with a Saison ale from local brewers Burning Sky. With elderflower and tart fruit notes this was perhaps the most wine-like of the beer on offer.

After a refreshing palette cleanser of Brighton gin and cucumber sorbet we tucked in to our dessert of sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice-cream and pickled apple. The pudding itself delivered what you would expect although the pickled apple divided opinion.

It was matched with a stout-style ale from Three Legs Brew Co. based in East Sussex. A complex ale that I have had before and was as good as I remembered.

As a dining experience this really did hit the spot. Not only was the food excellent, the level of service was also top notch. Restaurant manager Sofia previously worked at a Michelin-star restaurant and has brought that level of service with her. There was a bright, buzzy atmosphere and all of the guests were chatting.

At £50-a-head including drinks I felt this was excellent value especially as there were a couple of extra desserts thrown in.

I was very impressed with the level of cooking from this very young team. There is definitely a bright future ahead for Issac At; so watch this space and grab a table.