Review: Isaac At, Brighton

Brighton Girl was invited along to Issac At last week to try their current, yet ever changing and developing, tasting menu. Issac At is a small restaurant in the the North Laines with a team of 20-somethings who are incredibly driven and passionate when it comes to food. The restaurant itself is beautiful, with simple decoration, an open kitchen and stunning photography alongside transparent screens that allow guests to see into the kitchen. 

The Menu and Atmosphere

We were greeted at the door by the restaurant manager and seated with the open kitchen to the left. Our table was set with a stack of cutlery to our right, in a brand new wooden cutlery holder and with our menu in front. I loved the excitement of the menu being bound in a cord and unravelling it to be presented with the tasting menu for the evening. 

Alongside the menu itself was a list of ingredients with information on their 'mileage' perfectly demonstrating the locally sourced ethos that runs throughout the Issac At experience, and a comprehensive list of British wines by the glass or bottle, as well as the option of a kind of tasting menu  - a new glass, presented by the very accommodating manager and sommelier, with each plate.

The Food 

Although we were offered a six-course menu, we were actually blessed with eight courses.

Beginning with a pre-starter of blanched asparagus tip served with a variety of gels, charcoal mayonnaise and small lemon grass leaves, it was a delightfully fresh start to the meal served on a pristine slate plate. 

Next came a course of 'bread and butter'. Still-warm stout and onion bread served with a caramelised onion brioche and homemade butter. Each was served straight out of the oven with a perfect balance of flavours.

The starter was a charred asparagus served in an asparagus gazpacho with hazelnut oil for me, and a burnt sugar sauce for Fanny. Alongside the perfectly crisp asparagus was an egg yolk foam with a delicate texture and smooth aftertaste.

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For the fish course, I was served perfectly seasoned and flaky baked lemon sole, while Fanny had beautiful treacle-coated celeriac. Both were served with a smooth, if not a little salty, mash and crunchy leaves. I tried both and they were outstanding!

Next, a roasted carrot served with crunchy pickled purple carrot and a smooth carrot and star anise sauce. The roasted carrot was bitter on the outside with a smooth and sweet inside, served with contrasting sour pickled carrot.

For the main course we were again served separate meals; I had the lamb chump that had been cooked in the fat and rendered down to a perfectly pink and smooth lamb, served with a wilted coriander and lamb sauce. For the vegetarian course, Fanny had aubergine cooked in miso and soy served with an aubergine puree. Both looked, smelled and tasted delicious.

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Next was a beautifully flavourful pear and elderflower sorbet. Served in a beautiful shell-like plate, the sorbet was smooth and both flavours really came through. I especially liked that the sorbet had the texture of a fresh pear. 

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The pudding was, for me, the highlight of the meal - rhubarb sorbet served with whipped custard and a paper-thin pink peppercorn meringue. The sorbet was refreshing with tiny butter biscuits which melted in the mouth. The heat of the peppercorn, cool sorbet and sweet meringue made a perfect contrast and altogether an amazing dessert.

To end we had miniature almond cake, vegan truffle for Fanny, and burnt apple fudge. Perfectly sweet bites to end an amazing meal!

The Allergies 

I cannot praise the restaurant highly enough for their allergy awareness. Fanny and I had separate but equally delicious looking menus.  The open kitchen and fact that each chef in the kitchen served us, and everyone else, their plates made for a wonderfully personalised touch. Even with allergies to be aware of, it didn't feel like anyone missed out. 

This meal was absolutely stunning; each element was considered and presented beautifully. The fact that all of the ingredients are sourced locally and that the menu is diverse added excitement to the meal. The food is fine dining, but the atmosphere is relaxed and the staff welcoming and friendly. We can't wait to go back.

Written by Amara. You can find more from Amara on her blog Brighton Born and Bread.

Photography by Fanny. You can find more of Fanny's photography on her website.