There’s an unsuspecting veranda on the corner of Kensington Gardens and North Road. You know the one, with its fold-out chairs full of people sipping their coffees at the weekend. You’ll have walked past it many times, probably without so much of a wonder as to what’s going on inside. But that, dear readers, is where you’d be missing out.
I took a long lunch to Grow40 a couple of weeks back to try their new menu. Steve, the long-time owner, has recently partnered up with celebrated Brighton chef Phil Bartley (of Hove Place, The Cricketers and Great British Charcuterie Co) to launch Grow40’s upstairs wine bar L’Atelier du Vin – a classy joint comprising a wine list 600 strong. Now they also have a menu to match – an impressive a la carte which takes the previous menu up a notch. I’m shown my seat and shown the menu, but for me there’s only one option: to let Steve do the choosing (after all, I eat everything, and he does know the menu better than I do) and leave sommelier Alex in charge of the wine pairing.
In short: I’m served a spectacle. The scallop starter is divine, and arrives theatrically topped with a smoke cloche. The citrus-y flavours of the yuzu balance the seafood perfectly, lifting the entire dish. I’m also served the burrata with tomato consommé, which is slow pressed through a cheese cloth over 48 hours. As you can probably imagine, it was delicious, and I slurped up every mouthful.
The real treat for me however was my main – halibut served with cockles and lemongrass, with a delectably creamy risotto on the side. I was surprised when Alex brought a Californian red wine to the table to accompany it, but one taste of the dish and I immediately understood why. Meaty yet light, it was the perfect combination for a soft red.
The banana dessert was brought for the finish – an unusual combination of banana cake, panna cotta, peanut brittle, toffee elements and a small milkshake. I left satisfied and merry – exactly what all good meals should do.
Grow40 is at 40 Kensington Gardens, Brighton, BN1 4AL.
Tel: 01273 622519