- February 26, 2018
So one week I am extolling the virtues of a classic plate of food and then here I am raving about something at the cutting edge of modern cuisine. Yes, I’m back at The Set and I loved it.
Mr L and I have always been “ladies who lunch” and our favourite time to do it is Saturday. Back in the day we preferred dim sum, and we still enjoy that, but if you think hard, small plate dining is a contemporary take on dim sum, rather more so than it is tapas.
The Set do it brilliantly but in a recent menu change their cafe offering, re-branded as The Set Bar, is more relaxed than ever and unlike the evening dining where a set menu, or three, is what’s on offer, here you can pick as few or as many dishes as you like from a menu specially created for the bar and order drinks from the newly named bar The Fix, as chef Dan Kenny and his talented team has taken on the complete food and beverage operation at the Artists Residence Hotel.
I trust chef Dan Kenny so left the choices to him. It’s a good ruse I admit because they are bound to show off.
Mr L is purging right now so had a mocktail, a rare thing as anyone who knows him will recognise but one he raved about, how times change. I had a rhubarb spritz, a flamboyant delight that hit exactly the right spot. Food arrives as and when it is ready and the deal is to simply tuck in and share. So here we go with what will seem like a ridiculously long list. First out were some suckling pig and cheese croquettes, what a way to go, crisp outside and filled with an unctuous mix of tender piggy and cheesy bechamel. Our grins started to form and expanded on the arrival of Alexander buds, wild flower with an extraordinary slightly bitter floral flavour that worked so well with the puddle of hollandaise. Creamy whipped potato and buttermilk was equally satisfying, speckled with herby oil and topped with crisp potato skins, it was a dish we kept going back to.
Chocolate nuggets – a wickedly clever confection worth a visit all of their own
In contrast a salad of beetroot, feta, mint and pear was crisp and refreshing, cool watery notes, sweetness and salty cheese in perfect harmony. Miso leeks with pine kernels had that delicious scorched flavour that so many get wrong. There’s a fine line between scorched and burnt and here it was just right. Squid bun with roast garlic aioli was a great big delight that we were happy to share, although next time I want my own.
Squid can be such a let down, tough and tasteless, but here the lightly griddled beast was as tender as can be, the bun a scary black but sweet enriched dough delighted and the watercress and sweet garlic made it a wonderfully whole dish.
I love charcuterie and Moons Green Farm’s boozy rabbit sausage was wildly exciting, full of gamey rabbit flavours but clearly soused in some heady booze – and served with a buzzy kimchi dip. I will be looking for that again.
We rounded off our savoury delights with Mrs Bell’s blue and brown bread crackers – creamy, salty and very moreish.
It would have been rude not to do desserts and we were wowed by blood orange madeleines with cream, a grown up take on the Jaffa cake – but far better, melted marshmallows, and finally chocolate nuggets with hazelnuts and salted caramel, a wickedly clever confection worth a visit all of their own.
Brilliant food and brilliantly priced with most dishes at £4 and a few at £5, our cheese only £3 – well it all added up to about £16 each without our drinks, but we had for that price the equivalent of a very good tasting menu that would have cost as much as double elsewhere. We will both be back very soon I am sure.
The Set, 33 Regency Square, Brighton BN1 2GG