Brighton’s favourite ditches their trademark set menus – but is it the right decision?
Warm, inviting and ambient, there’s little wonder Regency Square’s The Set has been the talk of foodies across the county since it opened in 2014. Situated in the plush walls of upmarket boutique hotel Artist Residence, the restaurant was among the first to take on an innovative set menu concept with great success – until now. From last month, the restaurant has taken a departure from their original business model, replacing it with a more classic, a la carte structure. But the question on the tip of everyone’s tongues is: how does it measure up?
The good news is, particularly in terms of flavour, long-time lovers of The Set won’t be disappointed. But the varied menu has allowed chef and owner Dan Kenny and his team to put up a wider selection of plates to cater to all tastes – and budgets – so a larger demographic can enjoy them on a day-to-day basis (which can only be a good thing, right?).
Snacks start at a mere £3, and include the delicate oyster with ponzu (£3), squid ink grissini with mussel sauce (£3) and showstopping chorizo croquette (£3.50) to whet one’s appetite. Meanwhile, the chefs’ signature talents are still perfectly demonstrated in the starters. Comprising two root vegetable dishes – Parsnip and Heritage Carrot (both £6) – with entirely contrasting flavours, the former dish reflects the more comforting and traditionally autumnal flavours of the vegetable, while the latter utilises North African flavours with cracked wheat and homemade yoghurt for a lighter take. The results are just a tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the Set team can do, with thei r creativity extending further to the mains. Generously-sized sharing platters for two accompanying the five sumptuous single dishes on the menu, including crown of pheasant, whole salt baked sea bream, and BBQ hispi cabbage to split with a loved one. Those who prefer not to share their food, however, could do worse than the Cod Poached in Brown Butter (with local seaweed velouté, crispy squid and turnip, £15) or the Trenchmore Beef Risotto (served with ox cheek, cured ox heart, parsley and shallot salad, £15), which will each do plenty to warm guests up on a cooler day.
Perhaps most impressive, however, are the desserts. A traditional sticky toffee pudding is given a modern spin with malt ice cream, raisin and cola jelly to add a sour element, while miso tiramisu (misomisu? tiramiso?) is a slightly umami take on the Italian classic dessert. Fresh canelle are also available at an absolute steal (£2!), and the cocktail menu – a reflection of The Fix next door – is worth a visit in itself.
In all, The Set appears to have accomplished the unimaginable, changing the structure of their entire menu without compromising on flavour. And with a meal for two, including snacks, three courses and cocktails, still coming in at under £100, it means many more can enjoy it (and long may that continue).