The Coal Shed is justifiably considered in the upper echelons of Brighton’s thriving dining scene.
Together with its sister restaurant The Salt Room they have carved out enviable reputations among the best of Brighton’s best, and have also set up shop in the capital.
Talented head chef Dave Mothersill oversees the popular menu at The Salt Room, and is now being given the chance to really let rip with some fantastic new creations with regular themed-evenings at a communal dining supper club at The Coal Shed.
I attended the club’s inaugural evening on March 26 at an event which celebrated The Best of Great Britain with six immaculate courses, four of which represented four nations of GB.
Each course was paired with wines from slightly further afield, curated by the Coal Shed’s longstanding wine supplier Hallgarten.
The lively evening was hosted, with a bawdy élan, by Hallgarten director Joe Wadhams, who provided a great fanfare and enthusiastic descriptions of each course on behalf of the happy gourmands sat together on communal benches.
After a fun trio of canapés and a couple of flutes of the lush and lively Goring Blanc de Blancs, Wiston Estate NV, Sussex, it was time for a Caledonian-inspired starter.
A sublime scallop had travelled well from Orkney and luxuriated in a beautiful boozy Vermouth broth, supported by a creamy and complex South African Chardonnay (Lismore, Greyton 2013), which alone could change minds of many people about the much-maligned grape.
Next up, and wearing the metaphorical colours of England, was Wye Valley asparagus and Wiltshire truffle, with the added richness of a two-day salted and dried cackleberry egg yolk, grated over the top.
It was accompanied with the fragrant, fruity and thoroughly vegetable-friendly 2017 Sauvignon/Assyrtiko, Biblia Chora, Kavala, from Greece, in perhaps the best example of Anglo-Helenic harmony since the Queen-to-be took a shine to a handsome young Greek Prince.
My dear old nan used to tell me to never underestimate the Welsh and the Cymru course was almost the most marvellous of the night.
A divinely tender new season lamb, with coal roasted leek rarebit, was well-matched by the elegant grape of a super-smooth Spanish 2014 Resalte Crianza, Bodega Resalte De Penafiel, Ribera del Duero.
However, the best complete dish of the evening was 40 Day Himalayan salt-aged Irish beef, turning out on behalf of Northern Ireland (and not Asia, as one wag pointed out).
The beef was every bit as perfectly cooked as it is appears in the accompanying photo, and the whole dish was a testament to the chef’s skills.
The huge flavours included an insanely decadent bone marrow chip (a single cake consisting of thin layers of potato and wondrous beef bone marrow), a cabbage pesto bustling with garlic and the rather prosaically described ‘burnt onion’ which should have described as ‘onion alchemy’ or ‘probably the best onion you’ll taste this year.’
And to complete the course, a mighty ten-year-old Aussie Cabernet Sauvignon, Lake Breeze, Longhorne Creek, whose simple berry top notes gave way to a deep, dark beast of a red, perfect for aged meat.
The final course of rhubarb, honey ice cream sandwich, was free of national ties but was a seriously sweet and creamy affair, with a great brown butter and a crunchy praline, and a glass of the suitably opulent Kiwi 2016 Noble Riesling, Godrey’s Creek, Saint Clair, Marlborough, for the road.
A night of wonderful food dripping with taste, technique and creativity, and a great opportunity to enjoy the craft of an accomplished and passionate team free from the restraints of a regular menu.
The next event takes place on May 28 with the restaurant’s third annual Cooking on Coal event in celebration of National Barbecue week.
The fabulous-sounding dishes include salmon belly taco, black mole, avocado, caviar, an Iberico pork presse, romesco sauce, grilled artichokes, and fire-roasted monkfish, miso and sake caramel, with fennel kimchi
There is still space at the tables for the seven-course extravaganza which costs £60 per person before service.
By Steve Holloway