This may be a strange place to start, but the Oxford Academic has over 500 peer-reviewed journals spanning across a wide range of disciplines. One of those is the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Volume 104, Issue 4, October 2016 was, surprisingly, the first study to evaluate the relation between high energy intakes at lunch compared with at dinner on weight loss and cardiometabolic risk factors in women during a weight-loss program. The clinical trial (NCT02399280) showed stunning results; a significant reduction in anthropometric measurements and similarly significant improvements in cardiometabolic risk characteristics were observed. In addition, lunch over dinner may also offer clinical benefits to improve insulin resistance. The findings were reported around the world, and Women’s Health championed the news that “eating the bulk of your daily calories at lunch, as opposed to dinner, can help you lose weight over time.”
Why am I starting here?
Because lunch can be the new dinner, if you can have a two-hour lunch break and cook for yourself at home or, more likely, find the right restaurants.
In August 2017 LOST opened its doors. Their goal was that “good food shouldn’t be reserved for evenings only”. They specialise in daytime dining from breakfast through to late lunch, with small chef-lead menus, using ingredients from local producers. Head chef, James Flavell, describes his style as ‘rustic refined’, taking seasonal products and creating, what LOST call “beautiful plates of food”.
So, I walk past a sun-trapped outdoor seating area and enter the Nile Street venue with high expectations. First impression is that this doesn’t feel like a five-year-old restaurant. It turns out, it has recently had a makeover. An impressively spacious and relaxed interior for Brighton, leather banquettes, concrete walls and copper table tops, with a cocktail bar and a big open kitchen. I’m told that the redesign allows up to sixty people without feeling cramped, and the chefs now have space to expand their food offerings and techniques. So, let’s see…
Their approach is simple, offering small curated menus; an all-day breakfast menu alongside weekly specials. My wife and I choose from the Lunch specials. And purely for scientific reasons, we also share a breakfast.
I can’t help but dive into the, as advertised, beautifully presented Korean pork belly. It comes with stout & xo black beans, kimchi, panko and a black sesame egg. It is delicious. I’ve eaten pork around the world and this tops the marinated delight of Hawaii’s best offering. The accompanying beans, kimchi, panko and egg work a treat if, like me, that’s your kind of thing – a contrasting mix of velvety and pickle-punch that prevent it from becoming too heavy and losing its delight. My wife is no fan of pork, but admits the sample is good.
On request, Natalie, the owner suggests a white wine pairing that is not listed on the menu; Carminucci, ‘Belato’ Pecorino, Marche, Italy 2021 (the suggested red Finco Bacara, ‘Time waits for no one’ Monastrell, Jumilla, Spain, 2020 is understandable, but I’ve work to do this afternoon) – there’s no doubt the small wine list is equally as curated as the food.
Next up is the Baharat cauliflower, aubergine, baba ghanoush, with pomegranate, harissa, preserved lemon, and naan bread. This feels more like a lunch. I may still be spinning from the pork, but this is a decent offering – the naan bread begs to mop up the delicious sauce and again the suggested pairing of Gaia, ‘Monograph’, Assyrliko, Peloponnese, Greece 2020 is very well matched.
Their small, carefully chosen wine list, is complemented with a delightful cocktail menu crafted by local mixologist Thanasis Karvelis to “incorporate seasonal flavours and elements from our dishes”, but as I said the downside of lunch being the new dinner is that I’ve got to return to work, so that will have to wait for a time when I’ve a more relaxed afternoon ahead of me.
Instead, I opt for a smoothie to go with the vegetarian breakfast. I wisely choose not to go for the ‘Gold’. A coffee, peanut butter, dates, almond milk that sounds marvellous, but is also a breakfast in itself. The ‘Tropical’ turns out to be a good idea; a refreshing and subtle mix of pineapple, mango, and passion fruit.
I’ll admit that the halloumi, smashed avocado, mushrooms, roasted cherry tomatoes, new potato hash, organic poached eggs, and sourdough toast was a meal too far, as I’d broken the golden rule of not eating everything on the plate in order to review it. But the breakfast was tasty and importantly, not awash with oil. A quality meal, akin to the kind Rust deliver.
I’d go there again for breakfast as well as lunch I thought. But maybe not at the same time when I return. I should confess by this point I’d also had a rudely delicious side of crispy potatoes, black truffle oil, lemon, parsley, and aged parmesan in what was now a serious test of the aforementioned clinical trial.
As if to add to my calorie experiment marathon, I then ordered cake and coffee. LOST’s single-origin espresso is roasted by Lewes based Pharmacie Coffee Roasters and their cakes are hand made by local pâtissier, Jakub Fedon. The chocolate and carrot cakes were as delicious as the meal, and the coffee a very pleasant roast, bucking a trend of acidic strong offerings endured from recent visits to other restaurants.
LOST points out on its website that it is “also a neighbour to a whole new vibrant community of entrepreneurs in the beautifully designed “The Projects” co-working space in neighbouring Nile House”. From the marvellous food and venue we experienced, it would be fair to say that they fit right in with that description. And as for my ‘scientific’ experiment with lunch. I didn’t need dinner at all that day, and seems I lost a pound in the process. Win, win.