embers brighton


in The Chap Dines by

Gustav Temple samples the flaming fare at Brighton’s hottest new restaurant.

It was opening night at Embers, a discreet bistro tucked away in one of the Venice-like passageways of the Brighton Lanes that are so easy to get lost in. I believe, though may be mistaken, that the previous incumbent was one of those out-of-date Spanish restaurants that still believes diners wish to watch live flamenco while they chomp on stale tortilla and limp calamares.

All such memories have been banished by the folk who founded Embers, Dave Marrow and Isaac Bartlett-Copeland, a pair of Brighton chefs who first met in the kitchen of the Grand Hotel.

The first human we encountered as we sauntered towards the entrance was a female fire-eater, spewing flames so long they nearly reached the other side of the alleyway. It was a chilly night and thus her welcoming breath was much appreciated. Once inside, more fire simmers in every corner. It was a little like entering a Black Country foundry in the 1920s, with a huge mediaeval-style fire cage behind the bar and another one stacked with flaming kiln-dried ash and birch wood. The chefs sweated away behind the counter – there is no hidden kitchen – assisted by various black leather-apronned lackeys. So far, so Peaky Blinders. We were informed by front-of-house that there is no gas or electricity used to cook here, only burning wood, all of which adds a smoky flavour to all of the dishes, as well as to the room itself, stylishly decorated in what can only be described as Mad Max meets Shoreditch diner.

Our welcome cocktails did not shy away from the fire theme, at least not the ones we chose: El Fuego (Rum, Pineapple, Vanilla) and Cadillac Jo’Margarita (Mezcal, Chilli, Citrus), the former a smoky take on the Pina Collada; the latter an eye-wateringly sharp taste of Mexico. When we used to go to Brighton’s Polpo, since closed, we were always amused by the staff coming over with their notebooks and saying, “Do you know how the menu works here?” To which surely the only reply is, “Yes I do. I order the food from it, you bring it over and we eat it.”

Embers shares the small plates idea, but makes it feel less of a rip-off than Polpo. The servings are generous and easily shared between two. We had Scorched Sea Bream with chermoula, heritage grain and – wait for it – smacked cucumber. Yes folks, you heard right. We only ordered this to see what a smacked cucumber looks like. Turns out they have smacked it so hard that the green and white colours have merged into one shade of pale green, slapped on top of a lean fillet of sea bream, scorched to perfection on the flaming embers right before our eyes.

Smokey Chicken Leg took a fairly common joint and made it completely original, sweetly charred on the skin, seeping woodsmoke and smothered in n’duja aioli, a nutty brown version of the classic Spanish garlic mayo dressing. This take on aioli was so good that not only did it lift the smoky flavour of the chicken to new heights, but was delicious enough to sample by the spoonful on its own.

Our third and final plate (three were easily enough for two diners) was one of the centrepiece dishes, Aged Pork Tomahawk with burnt leek and mustard seeds. Pork is a difficult meat to liven up, but the Embers team had seared its surface with a black crust on their smouldering griddle, allowing the jolly decent cut of meat to shine through. The whole leek was a nice touch, not truly burnt but scorched within an inch of its life.

The ambience was loud, buzzy and hot, aided by the flaming wood on all sides. Embers is not the place for a quiet, contemplative dinner a deux, but ideal for a light dinner in groovy surroundings, perhaps before heading off for a night of thrills on the more dangerous rides on Brighton Pier.

42 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, BN1 1HB

The Chap was founded in 1999 and is the longest-serving British magazine dedicated to the gentlemanly way of life, with its own quirky, satirical take on a style that has recently entered the mainstream.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest from The Chap Dines


Hawksmoor Air Street

Gustav Temple and Alexander Larman sample the carnivorous delights of an elegantly
the don

The Don

Gustav Temple lunches at a reopened City dining institution and descends into
the lanesborough

The Lanesborough Grill

Gustav Temple and Alexander Larman take an early Christmas lunch at the

The Jones Family Affair

Gustav Temple reviews a new steakhouse in the heart of London’s Theatreland.

Kutir Chelsea

Gustav Temple and Alexander Larman set foot in a changed world since
0 £0.00
Go to Top