I must admit I was pretty excited to be selected to review the locally-sourced seafood on the menu at The Copper Clam on the seafront. It takes guts to open this kind of restaurant just two doors down from Riddle & Finn’s but fortune favours the brave, so I headed down there to see if they could compete.
If you haven’t walked along the beach since last summer you may not have seen The Copper Clam yet which has moved into the arches previously occupied by Santiago’s and completely transformed them. The indoor seating area is now upstairs and has been beautifully renovated with exposed brickwork, luxurious chandeliers and a copper-fronted bar, and being in an elevated position you’ve got that great view of the sea through the arched windows… Or at least you will have when the beach redevelopment is finished.
We took a seat at the well-stocked bar and was welcomed by Jackson who served us El Dorado white rum and Brighton Gin. The wine racks on display as you walk up the stairs suggest this is a place that takes drinking seriously, although I was disappointed there wasn’t any local beer on offer.
The starters included Pan Seared Scallops (£6.50), King Prawns in Chilli & Garlic (£7.50), Moules Marinière (£7) and a Seafood Cocktail loaded up with lobster, prawns, shrimp and langoustine (£12.50), which I would’ve gone for but as I was with my girlfriend, and it was date night, we decided to treat ourselves to oysters. These bad boys from Colchester were seriously big, and were served natural with Tabasco, shallots and Valentine’s sauce (£6 for three) or cooked Rockefeller (spinach, garlic butter, breadcrumbs & Pernod), Kilpatrick (Bacon, Worcestershire sauce, Parmesan), Tempura Batter, or Champagne Creme Brûlée (all £7.50 for three). As mentioned, it was date night so we went raw, but I will be going back to try all three other varieties plus their Oyster Bloody Mary shot for good measure.
As we joked about the amorous effect all those fresh, juicy molluscs might have on us, with perfect timing, Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On started playing out of their speakers. Had we have got up to anything indecent as a result we would’ve claimed entrapment as our defence!
Moving onto main courses the menu proposed Grilled Chicken Breast, Wild Mushroom Risotto (both £12) or three different steaks including the Carpetbagger (a 8oz fillet stuffed with three oysters for £28) but as tempting as they were, we were here for the seafood. Pan Fried Cod (£17) and Skate with Black Butter & Capers (£17.50) were options, however we went for a perfectly cooked chunky Newhaven-caught Stone Bass fillet dressed with chimichurri sauce from the specials board (£17.50), and the showpiece whole lobster, served classically grilled with garlic butter (£30).
The lobsters can be collected from as nearby as the West Pier, and you can’t get much more local than that. I was invited by the co-owner, Kay, to meet my clawed friend in the kitchen before it was cooked. However I declined – not through any guilt of having to look it in the eyes – because I was enjoying the surroundings and atmosphere of the restaurant far too much to get up.
For dessert we plumped for the chocolate tart, which was a little too chilled for the richness to come through, and a heavenly reworking of Banoffee pie (both £5.50) that substituted the pastry/ biscuits for sponge. There’s a great family behind The Copper Clam who clearly know and love what they’re doing and may just steal a bit of business off the more established venues on the seafront.
The Copper Clam is at 143-144 Kings Road Arches, Brighton, BN1 2FN