New York on Sea | The New Club, 133-134 Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2HH
Everyone loves Brighton, right? I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t. As far as we’re concerned, it’s the best seaside town that the UK has to offer, and one with its own unique personality. So why is there a lack of good restaurants? (The Chilli Pickle, Pub du Vin and new MEATliquor aside) We were invited to review The New Club which apparently had a wondrous burger (amongst other things) on the menu, we certainly didn’t expect it to live up to the burger offerings in the Big Smoke. ‘We don’t want to be known as just a burger joint. But we wanted to create the best burger outside London.’ says co-owner Catherine Smith.
On a cold, wet and blustery Friday night in November we entered the warm and welcoming The New Club. The owners have taken inspiration from the cutting edge diners of New York and independent coffee houses in LA, both places that we adore, especially the latter. A giant photograph named ‘In Another Place And Time’ taken by Vivienne Gucwa in NYC sweeps across the back wall. The restaurant boasts a prime location overlooking the West Pier, slap bang on the sea front amongst a lot of mediocre (if that!) restaurants.
You can certainly see the owners are fond of Russell Norman‘s restaurants also, judging by the bar counter dining area, cardboard clipboard menus and enamel crockery. It’s like a watered-down version of Spuntino. Imitation is flattery though, so it’s ok, and no one in Brighton will notice the similarities in design…
Head chef Tom Griffiths, formerly of Petrus, is joined by chefs who’ve worked at the likes of HIX, The Savoy and The Pass. The menu is full of small plates alongside sharing dishes – this concept that us Londoners come to expect as the norm is new to Brighton town. Described as a ‘journey’ with pre-dinner and after-dinner cocktails, the food stuff sandwiched in-between. No during-dinner cocktails though? I wasn’t really sure what I was meant to drink during the main event. A glass of Les Vignes D’Oc Rouge seemed appropriate, although I was temped by the array of craft beers. The cocktails were really good, my French Banger £7 with cherry Marnier, orange Bitters, lemon and absinthe was a good quality, serious drink. Ade took a sip of my second cocktail the sweet Spiced pear bellini £7, he described it as an early taste of Christmas.
We chose a couple of small plates as starters, Ade went for the mac and cheese Gouda and Swiss macaroni with pancetta £8.50 served in a cute heavy-bottomed pan, serving dishes like this always make my heart leap. A good thick cheesy crumb topping, the mix of cheeses created both depth of flavour and texture.
I had pulled pork in a way I never have before – practically naked. Pulled pork with caramelised romaine and raw slaw £7.50 was superb meat, tangy with a real kick, it made the roof of my mouth almost sting. I wasn’t particularly fond of it being served on lettuce however, warm leaves are not tasty. Crisp ice-cold lettuce for scoping however would have been great, and perhaps some pickles.
As Ade was suffering from a slight upset stomach he did something unexpected and ordered a veggie dish – this type of occurrence is as rare as me turning down a burger. Talking of burgers, the Dirty Burger (£10 with fries) was bordering on burger perfection. A decent sized handful, not too overwhelming, and easy to fit in my mouth. The patty of dry aged organic Herefordshire meat supplied by Sussex Organic Meat was meltingly succulent and juicy, pure beefy joy. I loved the hickory smoked onion/bacon relish and sliced pickle house sauce.
It was served with quadruple cooked fries – yep, no thrice-cooked nonsense, we would say it’s worth it, they were great, and as crunchy as you’d expect from that much attention. Ade’s Pumpkin/sweet potato pie with pickled cauliflower and kale £11 was set with egg, more like a quiche, a very light yet deceptively satisfying dish. The pastry is homemade with a crumbly texture to compliment its creamy filling.
The dessert offering didn’t wow us overly, so we decided to share the seasonal Apple and blueberry crumble tart with maple ice cream £6. Crunchy topping with toasted nuts, thick buttery walls, bursting with well spiced huge caramelised chunks of fruit, I started to wonder if sharing was such a wise move. What is far more exciting than the dessert menu is the after-dinner cocktails – the Cherry Cola Bottle £7 - house made vanilla vodka, amaretto, cherry heering, cola syrup and lemon juice did exactly what it says on the tin, liquid sweetie! The fact it was delivered in a school milk bottle with a paper straw and a cherry tangfastic on top gave it extra brownie points.
By the time we rolled out into the night and back to our hotel the place was heaving, mostly with large groups out celebrating one thing or another. Correct us if we’re wrong, but it appears the majority of Brightoners seem to mostly go out just for special occasions, rather than the pure enjoyment of food. Let’s hope with the addition of The New Club, MEATliquor and 64 Degrees things are on the up…
Kitchen Opening Times:
Breakfast: Mon-Friday 10am-1pm/Sat & Sun 9am-1pm
Lunch: Mon-Fri 12-3pm/Sat-Sun 12-5pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat 5pm til late
Please note: They will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during the month of November 2013, but may be able to cater for groups or private events – please email in this case.
Nearest station: Brighton