Dines Out: Down to business
After a week of standing up at events and talking it made a pleasant change to be invited to a dinner where I was simply a guest. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy talking, hosting chefs at the food festival and food related events, but for once I could sit back and enjoy the company and the food too.
This particular event was a Business Club Monthly Supper hosted by the gentlemen at Blanch House. Blanch House was in my view the city’s first boutique hotel and very nice it is too, stylish and fun with a very comfortable bar and a dining room perfectly suited to hosting dinners on this scale.
I’ve spoken at business dinners and breakfasts over the years and I am always interested to hear how other people do it. On this occasion it was my old friend Henry Butler from Butler’s Wine Cellar who talked us through his business and then the great Portuguese wines that we would be drinking. Henry is always funny and animated and his words went down well. But on this occasion the main speaker was Fiona Shafer from MD Hub. Her talk was fascinating, insightful and not without humour either, they both got that balance perfectly right.
As did the kitchen with a meal that was both tasty and satisfying. In a world where too many chefs seem to think that less is more (perhaps more in their banks?) here we were treated to some very good canapés and three delicious courses of food.
A warm timbale of smoky fish
I had chosen in advance as had we all and to start I had a mackerel dish that was very impressive, a warm timbale of smoky fish with not one bone, quite an achievement in itself, all bound together in a light dressing on a bed of wilted watercress. It was delicious.
My next course was lamb and it was generous to say the least, and at times rather surprising. I love slow cooked lamb, well to be honest I love lamb cooked any way it comes, it’s great rare, medium and well done. On this occasion it was slow cooked and tender and wonderfully balanced by the iron rich kale and sweet French beans. The surprise came in the guise of salty anchovies, an excellent match to rich lamb and kale. There was also a good rich and sticky jus and a fondant potato rich in butter but for me just a little too large.
I ended my meal with a plate of cheese, simple choices but good quality and served in decently sized portions, how I hate those cheese courses that look like the kitchen has merely smeared bits and bobs onto a plate.
My place was by invitation and I was delighted to see so many familiar faces gathered there for good food and good conversation. I guess that to join one needs to ask a member and be invited, but I would certainly return for good food, good debate and good fun.
Blanch House is at 17 Atlingworth Street Brighton BN2 1PL