- September 12, 2017
Much as I love big and bold flavours and robust dishes, I also love the opposite end of the taste spectrum, the delicate, subtle and refined.
Last week I was lucky enough to attend a dinner celebrating a year of Issac @ in the North Laine being open full time. For such a young chef and team they have achieved incredible heights in that short time. The format is simple: a tasting menu and the offer of wine flights and juice flights. The strict adherence to local produce works well and one can easily forgive them the coffee and whisky being from further afield as everything else seems to be locally sourced and made within their own tiny kitchen – even the delicious butter! For the occasion Mr L joined me, possibly my longest standing review companion, which will soon be hitting a scary quarter of a century – god, I am old!
The meal last night was sublime, starting with a delicate crisp bread topped with dots of herbal gels. Then the amazing treacle bread and a new one using Trenchmore’s heritage grain flour – super tasty. First course proper was crab, mixed white and dark meat with scorched, pickled and ‘ketchupped’ cucumber. Beautiful clarity of flavours throughout.
It takes real skill to cook at this level
Next came Brill with desiree potato mash – the fish simple and honest, the mash packed with earthy flavour, so often lacking when the dish is full of butter, and a parsley oil hit exactly the right note. This was followed by more earthy notes with a dish of aubergine, beetroot and onions, three of my favourites on one plate. Lamb rump came next, beautifully cooked, tender and sweet and not drowning in an over reduced sauce, it was a triumph of restraint. It came with perfect turnips and wilted coriander, stunning. I could have eaten those turnips all night long!
To cleanse the palate a blackcurrant and cucumber sorbet did just the job and amazingly the cucumber was not dwarfed by the usual strident flavour of the currants. Dessert was a play on greengage and dates, a dark and satisfying nod to the end of summer and the advent of winter flavours with a brilliant ice-cream, Viennese biscuits and pink peppercorn meringue shards. And finally a tiny cake of delicate delight with a burnt apple topped sherbety fudge.
Someone whispered in my ear that they found the food bland, I don’t think so at all. I think they missed the point, the food is delicate, refined and elegant – anyone can throw big flavours at ingredients but it takes real skill to cook at this level.
Isaac At, 2 Gloucester Street, 07765 934740
Brighton, BN1 4EW, isaac-at.com