Taste Sussex is chef Phil Bartley and business partner Steve Pineau's latest local food focussed pop-up restaurant opening in the revitalised former Frankie & Benny’s site in Brighton Marina. Nick Mosley talks to Phil about his passion for Sussex food and drink and his determination to bring an independent buzz to the area.
Your name, address and age and some background about you
I’m Phil Bartley, 37 – a Hove-based head chef who began my hospitality career at the age of 15 at the Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel, Brighton where I worked for two years. Since then I’ve made my mark managing and creating menus for restaurants all across Brighton, picking fresh and local ingredients from producers that I works with under my main business, GB Charcuterie.
What is your new restaurant called, where is it and when was it established?
Our restaurant is called Taste Sussex and is located on the Waterfront at Brighton Marina. It has only been a few weeks since we got the keys but it is officially opening its doors this Friday 25th June.
Tell us about the food you serve
We have copied, but put our own twist on a typical menu found at most chain restaurants, with a key focus on using fresh, local ingredients. The menu highlights the best of family food with breakfasts, burgers, sandwiches, grill, line-caught fish and a great selection of puddings for afters.
Showcasing ‘local’ is at the heart of Taste Sussex. Everything is prepared fresh with strictly no microwave allowed! Expect a real taste of Sussex, as we bring local coffee from White Cloud, English wines from Albourne Estsate and Plumpton wineries, Sussex beer from Harveys and many more nearby producers.
How many on your team and who are they?
The face of Taste Sussex is myself and my business partner Steve Pineau. Together we own a number of restaurants dotted across Brighton and London.
How did the idea for your business come about?
We were looking for a new site and Brighton Marina approached us and asked if we'd be interested in taking an empty restaurant unit. So from that moment, we came up with the concept, then the menu followed and we instantly began working on getting everything together. We achieved a really quick turnaround and got everything ready to open in the space of three weeks from getting the keys.
How have you coped/adapted during the pandemic?
Hospitality has experienced the most trials and tribulations of any sector during the pandemic, so we are taking precautions. Taste Sussex is set out with booth seating so customers have enough space to keep their distance. Table service is obviously at the forefront and the restaurant is faced with sliding doors to open up to our outdoor seating area, letting that fresh air inside.
Although Taste Sussex is new to the city’s post-pandemic hospitality line-up, the other businesses I manage have adapted well. GB Charcuterie is my core business which has traded well during this time due to the increase in online sales, and we are also very pleased to say that no jobs were affected.
What would you like to tell people about your business?
We are excited to offer a relaxed space for families and groups to come and enjoy some quality food whilst supporting local farms, producers and vineyards. Open from morning till evening, we offer a wide range of fresh food and drinks to be enjoyed at any time of day.
Our varied menu offers so many options for different tastes, so we can be sure there’s something that everyone will enjoy. We hope to bring together a ‘full of life’ atmosphere for the community to celebrate an independent restaurant here at Brighton Marina, and to allow everyone a taste of an artisan produced menu at an affordable price.
What are your plans/hopes for the future?
We'd never want it to be branded but would absolutely love to see more Taste sites opening outside of Brighton, offering a local taste to different areas. It would be a fantastic opportunity to support producers all over and really highlight the best of local ingredients.
Anything else you’d like to tell us?
We feel this could be the start of regeneration for the Marina to see an increase in independent restaurants making their way down here. We have heard rumours that other Brighton companies have plans to join us and we think this would be a great opportunity to start a movement of supporting local!
Taste Sussex, Unit 3 The Waterfront, Brighton Marina, Brighton BN2 5WA