- January 8, 2018
Welcome to 2018 and what promises to be yet another year of gastronomic delights. 2017 certainly hit a new high that saw multiple awards and accolades for the city, not only for the finer end of the business but also for the fast and furious where some new kids on the block really made their mark.
At the end of the year I was delighted to be invited to dine at a new venture, in a way a pop-up but a pop-up with more than a fleeting existence. I have been wary of reviewing pop-ups that will have popped off by the time that the magazine is out, and that I know can be very frustrating. So when I heard of Chard at Rust I was delighted that it was a restaurant that popped up regularly in a very strikingly stylish cafe on the road to Preston Park. Now I know that here in Brighton & Hove we can be rather lazy about travelling to restaurants that are outside the city centre, but really? Get real, this is no distance and it really is worth the effort.
The venue has that trendy post apocalyptic look, so very Hoxton, but actually rather warm and welcoming (and much closer). The first good sign was a huge jug of water, filled with fresh fruits that looked very pretty and negated the need to ask if we wanted ecologically unsound bottled water. We both liked that. Then came a delicious squash purée with incredibly good homemade flat breads, just a teaser for what was to come and a very good teaser too. The addition of parmesan shavings, walnuts and pumpkin crisps made it far better than your average starter, that is for sure.
My date for the night was Ms G de V, a hard and fast vegetarian so she was thrilled and she was equally impressed by her starter of a goat curd with cranberries, hazelnuts and watercress. It was a regal looking dish, bejewelled and generous, a fact that turned out to be a key factor in all of our dishes.
Turbot is a pricey delight that deserves all of the praise it receives
My starter of scallops with black pudding and cauliflower purée was equally impressive in both execution and scale. I liked the generosity of a classic that is so often served in parsimonious portions that ultimately disappoint – no matter how well they are cooked.
Ms G de V moved on to an amazing gnocchi dish that once again had me looking on with envy. This is well thought out food, pleasingly rustic in its appearance and a joy to eat as was proved by Ms G de V who wolfed down the lot with gusto.
I chose from a small selection of specials on the wall and could not resist the temptations of turbot. Turbot is a pricey delight that deserves all of the praise it receives, it truly is the king of the sea and this was a mighty tranche of the beautiful beast. It came with a good celeriac purée and the most divine confit leeks and greens. It was stunning, only let down by not being as tidily trimmed as I would have liked, clearly a chef who hates waste, but that skirt of fine bones really does need to go into a fish stockpot. It’s a tiny quibble though as this was a first class dish that I would certainly order again and again.
We should have been too full for pud as all of our dishes were generous in size, but this is a job that has to be done. Ms G de V chose a classic ginger pudding with poached pear and clotted cream. It was very good indeed judging by the speed at which it disappeared. I went for a pavlova in the silly belief that it was the lighter choice. Of course it was far from light, it was a stunning explosion of meringue, fresh fruits and cream that looked as good as it tasted.
The wine list is small but well formed and not overpriced and all in all Chard is a very welcome addition to our brilliant restaurant scene.
Chard, 50 Preston Road, Brighton, BN1 4QF