By Ellie Talebian
Block, situated on Kemptown’s lively St James’s Street is a stylish multipurpose venue designed to eat, drink and dance in. Staying true to the form of its predecessor Neighbourhood, the basement boasts a luxury intimate club style space perfect for private parties and post-dinner debauchery. Back upstairs, a beautiful, immaculate, well-stocked bar dominates the ground floor with ample dining space. Block clearly understands that ‘simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication’, and whilst there are unusual and curious nods to its owner’s love of fashion and the grandiose, these remain well-balanced and in keeping with its style
I visited Block on a Friday evening for a dinner date with my partner. As it was a beautiful balmy evening, we decided to dine outside and were pleased to see that the garden at Block had received just as much care and attention in the recent refurbishment.
Here, they offer a clever menu that stays on trend and plays host exclusively to Brighton’s only Bertha oven – meaning the food is either grilled or smoked at a high temperature to capitalise on its natural flavours. Putting our faith in the management’s extensive knowledge of the menu, we let him choose our starters of Blackened Octopus (£9), Scallops in half shell (£8) and Ox Cheek Croquettes (£7.50). For our mains we chose Short Rib (£16) and Sirloin (£16) accompanied by Hand cut Fries (£3.50) and and Pumpkin Squash (£3). It’s also worth noting they also offer a Flat Iron Steak for an absolute steal at only £10.
Pleasurably, when our food arrived it was as well presented as our surroundings, beautifully cooked and vibrant. The portion of seared scallops included delicately placed salty bacon, served with a flavoursome sauce to complement them wonderfully. Having never tried octopus before, I was eager to get involved. Topped with delicious baby artichokes and poole bay clam broth which really brought it together, the octopus was a dish that definitely came through for me. It was even better than expected – and I have it on good authority from my dining partner that the Ox Cheek was very tasty indeed.
Our mains followed in hot pursuit and did not disappoint. My partner’s Short Rib was cooked to perfection and accompanied by savoy cabbage, which much to my enjoyment had received the magic ‘Bertha’ treatment and tasted absolutely incredible.
The steak, cooked exactly to order, was juicy and paired with the very best chips, which as my partner so eloquently put it were ‘proper dirty chips’ – meaning pretty delicious. The Pumpkin Squash also offered an unexpected dimension of vigour to our meals.
As for desserts, we chose Chocolate Brownie (£6) and Cheesecake (£6). A delight for all the senses, these were sensuously indulgent, double naughty and served with flair and originality – but the brownie, oozy and divine, was undeniably the star of the show.
Block boasts a fantastic selection of wines and craft beers, and the staff are full of knowledge in which wines best suit the dishes on offer. A smooth Malbec to match our order was recommended to us – a match that perhaps turned out to be a little too good, as I managed to sink down most of bottle over the course of our meal – whoops.
Being in the know about Block is like being in on a very special Brighton secret. In fact, I’m hesitant to publish a review that would compromise the intimacy of one of my favourite Friday night hangouts. The layout of the venue means that even when it’s busy, it’s never too busy to kick back and enjoy everything it has to offer. I simply love how it feels like you could be anywhere in the world when you’re actually within walking distance to centre of the city.
As we stumbled out of Block and into the night it was obvious we had had a wonderful time. And perhaps a little too much fun! With an ambient vibe and a dedicated team of servers at the heart of service, Block is the perfect place for what feels like – but most definitely isn’t – an ‘off the track’ night out.