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Review of Dilsk

Bantam Egg at Dilsk Brighton

I first reviewed Dilsk at the start of last year, shortly after it opened in the lower ground floor restaurant space at Drakes hotel on Marine Parade.

Having just come out of the various lockdowns, I was a little surprised by the number of new restaurant openings at the time – including Embers, Furna, Blossoms, Redroaster at Brighton Dome and Dilsk. I think its fair to say they all had a somewhat bumpy ride initially but seem have survived and become notable names on the Brighton restaurant scene.

Dilsk certainly comes with good provenance. Head chef Tom Stephens previously led the kitchen of 64 Degrees for about four years and before that was sous chef at the renowned Pied à Terre in London’s Fitzrovia. Tom’s business partner and restaurant manager, Maddy Riches, has had an accomplished front-of-house career in the city.

Since those first days of opening, the economy has taken a bit of a beating with inflation. Restaurant running and ingredient costs have gone sky high, whilst consumers are watching their pennies more than ever before. Thus a restaurant that prides itself on a ten course curated tasting menu for £95 plus a matching wine flight at £80 isn’t going to be for everyone.

However, Dilsk has launched a lunch menu for £35 featuring three courses plus handmade laminated brioche, the latter of which I hasten to add is utterly sensational. The menu is available Thursday, Friday and Saturday and is an accessible way to experience some of the best cooking in southern England without breaking the bank… although I have to admit that my dining partners and I did go a bit wild with the wine list.

Although the lunch dishes aren’t exactly the same as those on the evening tasting menu, they utilise the same core ingredients including options for venison, sea bass and duck on my visit.

I began with Bantam Egg with roasted leak and a potato flour crisp. Suffice to say the egg came from a very spoilt hen with its rich, moreish golden orange yolk. This was a beautifully rounded dish with more body than the photograph belies. It could easily be in my annual top ten at the end of the year.

Next up, pressed duck leg with salsify and a sauce of spicy Sarawak black pepper. All delicious but my favourite element being the buttery rolled cabbage leaf. I could’ve quite happily eaten a plate of that alone.

Sussex Tenor Chocolate at Dilsk Brighton

Dessert was a light chocolate mousse over a bed of crushed almond with the addition of a tart but still fruity cherry vinegar. Another faultlessly executed dish that made a perfect full stop to our lunch.

With locality and seasonality at its heart, Tom’s menu is produce forward, with each element precisely – and very beautifully – presented within each dish. I rather like this approach; with ingredients this good, I actually want to taste them rather than be bamboozled with too many confusing flavours. Sure there is genuinely sophisticated cooking at work here but there is also a cleanness and honesty – a respect for the produce – that is surprisingly hard to find in many contemporary fine dining restaurants.

One lasting memory of my earlier visit to Dilsk was the impeccable wine pairings. I’m pleased to report that nothing has slipped – I genuinely think that Dilsk has the best matches of wine with dishes I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. They are fearless in choosing wines from lesser known regions and small producers that you simply won’t find elsewhere. This decision to go off-piste pays real dividends, creating a faultless marriage of food and wine. Please, never change.

Whether the wine, service, ambiance or the impressive dishes, it’s hard to see how Dilsk could get any better. It really is at the top of the game here in Sussex. And with lunch for £35, its now an unmissable and affordable dining option for everyone; just remember to book ahead.

Nick Mosley

Dilsk, 44 Marine Parade, Brighton BN2 1PE

01273 696 934 •


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