insideKENT Magazine insideKENT Issue 68 Nov 2017 - Page 96

FOOD+DRINK Excellence without gimmicks at PASCERE , BRIGHTON BRIGHTON IS AWASH WITH RESTAURANTS; SOME OF WHICH ARE VERY GOOD, SOME OF WHICH ARE PRETTY AVERAGE, BUT ALL OF WHICH ARE COMPETING FOR THE LOCALS’ EVERMORE VORACIOUS APPETITE FOR EXCEPTIONAL FOOD. AS LAID BACK AS THE CITY SEEMS, BRIGHTON IS A DEMANDING MISTRESS WHEN IT COMES TO DINING AND CERTAINLY DOESN’T ENTERTAIN PRETENDERS. PASCERE – A CLEVER AND STANDOUT ADDITION TO THE CITY’S FOODIE SCENE – COULDN’T PRETEND IF IT TRIED. BY POLLY HUMPHRIS Walking into Pascere (from the Latin meaning ‘to graze’), what strikes first is the absence of any affected elements of ‘cool’, the focus on which is a trap that so many new Brighton restaurants – desperate to be noticed among the throng of really top-notch eateries that now pepper the city – fall into. Choosing not to depend on the apparent safety blanket of a Lanes location, the restaurant sits at a midway point between the late-night revelry of West St and the whimsical bustle of said Lanes leaving it open to attention from both heavily, but often separately, tread paths; clever. Equally confident and not at all forced is the décor. A mix of dark teal and mustard yellow, it’s effortlessly, but undeniably very stylish, and wonderfully unstuffy too, a theme that 96 continues upstairs where you’ll find a small open kitchen, so curious diners can watch head chef, Johnny Stanford (formerly of the The Pass at the South Lodge Hotel), as he wields all manner of tools and whips up dishes as delicious as they are pretty. Whetted at first by a remoulade of butternut that squeezed maximum flavour out of the sweet squash, we tried to hold our appetites at bay when presented with fresh, still-warm bread. A real Willy Wonka gobstopper moment, each little loaf tasted as much of beer and onion and then stout and treacle as it did bread, so we failed miserably and scoffed the lot greedily with whipped, salty butter. Beef cheek tortellini with mushroom puree in a beef consommé followed – an autumnal, really earthy dish, rich with slow-cooked meat and bathed in a glistening, delicate soup. Often overlooked, peas are my favourite vegetable, so I was delighted to find an homage to them in the starters menu, cooked not once but three ways in fact: fresh-from- the-garden raw; cooked so that each juicy seed popped out of its skin satisfactorily; and, lastly, blitzed into a light-as-air custard in which the trio of legumes floated, topped with buttery lavender brioche croutons. An edible English country garden on a plate. Mains were a tricky decision, partly because we wanted them all, but mostly because I wanted to avoid my kneejerk reaction, which would always be to choose the fish. Eventually,