Find Out Why Brighton's Latest BBQ Joint Is A Sophisticated Yet Smokin' Hot Affair

When I think of barbecues, I imagine charred bits of chicken, smoky old sausages and grown men standing around with beers in their hands, all trying to outdo each other as to who can get the fire going fastest - or maybe that’s just the ones I used to go to? These days, BBQ has been elevated to a culinary art form thanks to world-renowned restaurants, like Smokestak and Temper in London. Brighton is going after a slice of the action too, with the recent addition of Embers to its dining scene. The brainchild of Dave Marrow (former head of famed vegetarian restaurant Terre à Terre) and Isaac Bartlett-Copeland (chef patron of Isaac At), it’s got the south coast’s carnivores slavering all over it. We dropped by to find out if it’s true that ‘where there’s smoke, there’s fire’.

Embers Restaurant Brighton | DesignMyNight

This sexy, dark hangout might just be one of the best restaurants in Brighton.

Brighton is often called "Soho by the sea" and Embers certainly captured the look and spirit of that corner of London’s fashionable smokeries. It showcased an exposed kitchen and forestry-meets-factory vibe with chunky wooden tables, sleek industrial surfaces and three large sheets of distressed corrugated iron suspended, gravity-defyingly, from the dark black ceiling. We eschewed a seat at the kitchen counter — where you can watch the head chefs shake their meat (and then cook it, obviously) — and instead took one of the two four-seater tables outside in the chic, Instagrammable alleyway of Meeting House Lane.

Embers Reviews Brighton | DesignMyNight

The Embers Brighton menu featured fun cocktails and lip-smacking small plates.

Cocktails were ordered to accompany a spot of early-evening people-watching; an El Fuego (£11) made up of rum, pineapple and vanilla arrived for me, with the fiery spirit still alight in a hollowed-out passion fruit, and The Embers Own (£11), marrying cognac, rye and smoke, for the other half.

Embers was all about small plates (where isn’t these days?) and Arthur, the charmingly helpful GM, told us to choose three each, so we happily obliged. First out was a couple of rollmops (£10.50) served with pickled whiting, apple compote and dill emulsion, as well as a beef short rib (£12) accompanied by anise glaze and wasabi mayo. The latter, having been cooked sous vide for four hours, was a dish of such tenderness and utter gorgosity (yes, it’s a word) that it would make even Greta Thunberg give up her vegan ways and jump on a private jet straight to Brighton.

Embers: Best Restaurants Brighton | DesignMyNight

Embers restaurant is perfect for those of you who like the meatier things in life.

Sticky aubergine (£8.50) with tahini cream and carrot kimchi was my next choice — just to show I’m not anti-vegan, and because it was bloody delicious — plus some charred broccoli (£8.50) served alognside sweetcorn cream, mole and hazelnut. A smoked lamb chump (£17) was the most expensive yet least enjoyable plate (a tad tough and fatty), but then lamb is always a difficult meat to get right and we were still basking in the afterglow of that short rib, so maybe the bar had been set too high.

In any case, the chicken leg (£10.50) — so damn fine it’s got a definite article before it on the menu — served in honey butter and aioli made with pul biber (that’s Aleppo pepper, and yes I had to look it up too) made the world a wonderful place again. For dessert, we shared a banana split (excellent value at £7.50) with parsnip and rosemary ice cream, toffee sauce and praline, after draining the last of a dreamy bottle of Hidden Spring Bacchus 2019 (£44), which was worth every penny.

The DesignMyNight Digest

The south coast’s carnivores were right: Embers really is something quite special. This isn’t just BBQ food done really well, it’s food done differently by top-pedigree chefs who clearly love what they do and want you to love it too. Yes, barbecue is bang on trend right now but, when that fashion passes (as all fads do), Brighton’s foodies will still be left with a top-notch restaurant that really cares about the plates it serves.

  💰 The damage: £134.50 for two plus service.

  📍  The location: 22 Meeting House Lane, BN1 1HB.

  👌 Perfect for: Foodies who want great BBQ without standing around waving pieces of cardboard over lukewarm bits of coal.

 ⭐ Need to know: Control the tempo at which the food arrives by ordering a couple at a time.


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