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Review of Sunday lunch at Embers

Three Beast Feast Sunday roast at Embers in Brighton

Before I even start, I’ll hold my hands up and say that I’m a self-confessed fan of Embers, writes Nick Mosley. In my mind it’s pretty much the perfect Brighton restaurant… you can already guess where this review is heading…

The brainchild of chefs Dave Marrow – formerly of Terre à Terre – and Brighton legend Isaac Bartlett-Copeland – the driving force behind Isaac At – and staffed by some of the most experienced faces in Brighton hospitality, Embers has all the right ingredients in place.

For those who haven’t yet experienced this eatery then in a nutshell the concept is around open fire cooking: charcoal grills, flames and barbecue. In the age of induction hobs, its no mean feat to go back to basics and cook this way, but the chefs have taken to it like ducks to water and embraced the rawness and authenticity of fire. It also tastes mighty fine too.

Whilst you may think BBQ equals meat – and you would, to some degree be correct – the well-crafted a la carte menu more than caters for vegetarians and vegans, and also has plenty of gluten free options. Choose from a selection of small plates – priced from around £6-18 – and a couple of larger sharing plates.

But on my recent visit, it wasn’t evening menu I’d be sampling. With my ear close to the ground on the Sussex food scene, I’d been hearing very good things about the Embers Sunday lunch so thought it high-time to tuck in.

Whilst I know that for many a Sunday pub lunch is the most anticipated meal of the week, I tend to find most rather disappointing. I think primarily that’s because they either aren’t cooked by actual chefs or are pre-prepped and then badly executed: overcooked meat, burnt Yorkshires, soggy vegetables swimming in reconstituted gravy and – horror of horrors – deep-fried ‘roast’ potatoes that are undoubtably hot as the sun on the outside and cold as ice on the inside.

Clearly there’s none of that at Embers as you can watch the chefs in the open kitchen rustling up the grub right before your eyes. Plates are design for two people to share and are a more than generous mound of vegetables and meats. Starting from £23 per person, choose from pork loin with crackling, Sussex beef rump, smoked whole chicken and baked onion… or for a little more (£32) you can get the ‘Three Beast Feast’ including the aforementioned pork and beef with a damned fine handmade lamb and mint sausage.

The accompanying vegetables include skillet roasted potatoes and carrots, charred broccoli, cauliflower cheese and deeply delicious charred hispi cabbage (I’ll be making that as soon as we drag out the BBQ at home). The gravy is served on the side in a jug, which is certainly my preference as I don’t necessarily want it slopped over everything on my plate.

Clarified Bloody Mary at Embers in Brighton

Now I’m sure that anyone who regularly reads my musings will know, I’m big on my cocktails. Embers undoubtably ticks that box for me as it’s home to Lyndon Roper, one of the finest bartenders on the south coast. Lyndon isn’t afraid to experiment and through his skill and seemingly innate knowledge of how ingredients and spirits combine, he offers a regularly rotating menu of impressive drinks. Being a Sunday, the Bloody Mary seemed like the obvious choice but, Lyndon being Lyndon, he’s played around to create a clarified version with unctuous umami flavours and a pleasing cut of acidity. All served with his typical bonhomie. With Embers open from noon on the weekends, there’s no excuse not to pull up a stool at the bar and rest your feet at the end of a shopping trip with one of Lyndon’s mighty fine concoctions.

Caramelised rice pudding at Embers in Brighton

There wasn’t really room left in any of our tums for pudding so I shared one with the table. A very well executed savoury dessert of toasted coconut, caramelised rice pudding and a base of rhubarb that went perfectly with the end of the second bottle of Chenin Blanc.

Embers is quite rightly a popular destination for those in-the-know about the Sussex food scene. Thus although you might be lucky with a walk-in, I would highly recommend booking in advance.

On this occasion I was dining with my parents, sister and a chef friend. The feedback was universally good but perhaps best summed up by my down-to-earth father: “Well, I’d come again”. High praise indeed.

Nick Mosley

Embers, 42 Meeting House Lane, Brighton BN1 1HB

01273 869 222 •


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