More for the Omnivore at Carne in Hove
In a city that, in my view, has wrongly been held as a bastion of vegetarianism and more recently veganism, (have you never been to Bristol?) the arrival of a restaurant that specialises in meat dishes comes as a breath of fresh air to those of us who class ourselves as omnivorous. In truth, Brighton and Hove has in recent years become great places to dine out should your personal choice be vegetarian or vegan and we certainly boast some of the best places to eat in either category.
Carne is very new and the brainchild of local chef Phil Bartley, a man long committed in sourcing and cooking the best quality meats that he can find with rare breeds, high quality and high welfare at the heart of this new venture.
I went along on a bitterly cold evening with Ms M, a friend who I know is keen on all of the factors listed above as am I, whenever I can. These days I try to eat better quality meat less often and my repertoire of plant based dishes cooked at home expands weekly.
That said, I was very excited to be presented with the chance to eat some great meat and with that in mind started to peruse a menu that boast some very tempting carnivorous options. But do not be put off by that thought as this menu is full of very tempting non-meaty offerings as Ms M went on to prove.
In fact, she started with a dish of scallops served with black pudding which she declared was delicious and it did look very appealing if slightly small, but there we have it with scallops, if they are sourced with care and attention they may not be the fattest that can be found and she did say they were not only very tasty but perfectly cooked.
With my meat head on, my eyes quickly alighted on a steak tartare, 50 day aged beef, confit egg yolk and sourdough. The beef was so tasty, the seasoning spot on and the sourdough a great match to that robust dish. As for the confit egg yolk, well it tasted great but it didn’t add that unctuous tasty glue that, in my view, binds the dish together and provides that delicious mouth-feel that I like so much. Maybe people are wary of raw egg but I am not, if they have been sourced with as much integrity as one would expect from Mr Bartley. We also greedily devour what they describe as pork quavers with bacon dust and burnt apple. These are pork scratching but in the Spanish style so not greasy, and they were great.
Ms M moved on to a main course of wild mushroom fettuccine with tarragon and black truffle, yes, a meat free dish, and on arrival one that I looked upon with serious envy. The trend for serving food, and in particular pasta dishes, in tiny dolly sized portions is horrible and silly. This was a hearty plate of very appealing food with clear evidence of the promised wild mushrooms. It put a very broad smile on my friends face and in turn that made me very happy.
I was seriously torn by the huge selection of cuts of steak available and looked around the packed room I could see that they all looked rather good and again generous. I took a while choosing but in the end rejected beef in favour of pork and a chop. If memory serves me right it was sourced from Dingly Dell pork producers and I may never be able to find pork as good again, but please prove me wrong. This was the pork of my childhood, tender, juicy and sweet. It was perfectly cooked and delicately seasoned, one of the promises of this restaurant is to resist over seasoning and to allow the meat to sing its own song. This was in that sense an operatic chop, grand opera at that as it was impressively large and, as my butcher grandfather would have told me to do, one that I finally finished by picking up the bone and gnawing away the last morsels. I was in heaven, piggy heaven.
On the side we could not resist the truffle and Parmesan fries, pretty damned perfect and piping hot, and I was a intrigued by a dish title Carne Caesar Wedge. Read into my intrigue as you will but what was delivered is now firmly in my own repertoire. A huge wish of crisp lettuce basking in a delicious dressing and then topped with plenty of slaty anchovies and lashings of Parmesan shavings. It was truly delicious and a perfect foil for both our dishes.
By this point we were both pretty full, but in the interests of readers puddings needed to be experienced. Ms M chose the egg custard tart with rhubarb, one of my favourite combinations. The tart, served in what I would say was a properly proportioned slice, was beautifully constructed, the pastry short, the custard silky smooth with not a bubble in sight and a thin layer of rhubarb between the base and the eggy filling, and on the side cubes of rhubarb atop some tasty crumbs. Next time that’s for me. Not to say that my dessert was any less delicious. In fact the blood orange and Grand Marnier soufflé was divine, light as a cloud but packed with the flavour of orange and served with a silky chocolate ice-cream, a delicate sablé biscuit and some lightly salted oat crumbs, so well balanced and a perfect end to a delicious meal.
Neither of us are drinking at the moment so matched our entire feast with sparkling water, perhaps a good idea that sits well with Chef Bartley’s concept of delicate seasoning.
All in all Carne is an excellent addition to the city’s food scene.
141 Church Road
Wed 5pm – 10pm
Thurs to Sat 12pm – 10pm
Sun 12pm – 5pm