An impressive new menu at The Set, Brighton

Trenchmore beef risotto. Photo by XDB Photography.
Trenchmore beef risotto. Photo by XDB Photography.

Fine dining and higher end cuisine can sometimes seem a little daunting but amazing standards don’t have to be accompanied by snottiness and self-importance.

Diners in Brighton and Hove are fortunate that the best joints are, largely, inclusive, unpretentious and welcoming.

The Set is a great example of this and deserves its spot on the top table of our restaurant scene.

It exuded warmth and good times the moment we stepped through the discreetly adorned townhouse front door.

Crab bao. Photo by XDB Photography

Crab bao. Photo by XDB Photography

Inside there was a cool but comfortable vibe. There was the now familiar Brighton sight of exposed brickwork but the interior was cosy and not painfully trendy

Some bouncy beats added to the atmosphere but weren’t a problem for conversation, and won’t have anyone reaching for their ear-trumpets. The lights were low and standard of the food was high.

It’s no longer a set menu-only kind of place – a la carte is now very much an option with a good spread of meat, fish, vegan and veggie dishes.

The original concept, innovative set menus, was brave, but however wonderful and adventurous a taster menu might be, you might not always feel so daring, and sometimes it’s good to have the choice.

Game terrine. Photo by XDB Photography.

Game terrine. Photo by XDB Photography.

So, the new menu means you’re not strapped in for a three-courser, although if you do choose the three courses, they’re now under £30, making it more accessible to diners than before.

Unveiled only last week (November 9), the menu now includes, snacks, starters, mains and puds, and two-person sharing plates.

We visited as a pescatarian and carnivore duo.

The former loved her crab bao, which seemed like an appropriately hip way to start proceedings, a soft steamed bun with vivid radish slaw and brown crab. Her main, a celeriac and mushroom tart, was well-balanced with a herb pesto, and Cora Linn cheese.

Mushroom and celeriac tart. Photo by XDB Photography

Mushroom and celeriac tart. Photo by XDB Photography

I hadn’t intended to make my choices quite so dyed-in-the wool meat-eater, but i must have had been in the grip of an end of the week blood-lust.

The game terrine starter was a combination of pheasant, pigeon and duck, with all those huge flavours kept in line with black pepper, sage and juniper, creating a surprisingly herby end result. It was served with a mushroom brioche and super tangy little mushroom ketchup.

The Trenchmore beef risotto was a memorable, mighty, meaty beast of a main.

Trenchmore Farm in Horsham supplies superb Sussex beef to some of the county’s most lauded restaurants and all of meat used on the Set’s fantastic risotto comes from just one animal.

Sticky toffee pudding. Photo by XDB Photography.

Sticky toffee pudding. Photo by XDB Photography.

The dish had incredible depth and richness.

An unfathomably tender piece of ox cheek, took centre stage, with a great supporting turn from a cured ox heart sauce, and the risotto itself (cooked in the same beef fat) was bursting with flavour. Wonderful.

The pick of the puds was a sticky toffee pudding with malt ice cream, raisin and cola jelly.

And it was the light zingy jelly that really made the dessert sing. A excellent touch to improve on an old favourite.

The Set is a very likeable restaurant. It’s a fun and lively place to spend some time and enjoy some quality food created and served by passionate, talented people.

By Steve Holloway steve.holloway@jpress.co.uk

The Set. A view from Regency Square. Photo by XDB Photography.

The Set. A view from Regency Square. Photo by XDB Photography.

Inside The Set. Photo by XDB Photography.

Inside The Set. Photo by XDB Photography.