Last night we visited a Brighton restaurant thats been on my ever growing ‘to-eat’ list for quite some time. Isaac At is a truly different experience to anywhere else in Brighton, it’s not just a restaurant but a complete foodie event and fine dining experience, which I’ve yet to find anywhere else in town. Isaac At is owned and run by young entrepreneur and chef, Isaac Bartlett Copeland, who is utterly passionate about food and his craft. He opened the restaurant a year ago, it’s aim to serve fantastic locally sourced, seasonal food and also to break down traditional barriers between the chefs and the diners by placing the kitchen in the heart of the restaurant.
Issac At is located on Gloucester Street, Brighton, tucked slightly out of the way, it is a small intimate space, which has been elegantly redesigned into the perfect light, airy space for a dining experience.
Opening the cute scroll menu revealed the dishes we would be experiencing that evening. I also loved that inside the menu there was a full list of ingredients used within the meal and how many miles it’s travelled to reach us. Most were a mere 10-15 miles away, the furthest away I could see was 555 which was for Salmon sourced from Sutherland – this is not far either when you think about how far some of our food from the supermarket travels!
The drinks menu is also locally sourced and included a few of my favourites, such as Brighton Gin and wines from local vineyards at Nyetimber and Sedlescombe.
Isaac At is a full dining experience, so the menu is set for everyone (although dietary requirements are taken into consideration) and each dish is served at the same time. A full introduction is given for every course, with a little background on how the dish was prepared and how the ingredients were sourced.
The menu itself is seven courses, but each course is just perfect in size so you aren’t too full for the next one. There is also plenty of time between courses to sit and chat, watch the chefs in preparation and let your food go down. The kitchen is just tiny, so watching the team prepare such intricate dishes in such a small space is fascinating and truly an art!
We opted for the vegetarian menu, so our starter was the Asparagus, Egg Yolk, Yeast Extract & Scurvy Cress. The asparagus was cooked to perfection, I loved the addition of ‘dippy eggs’ (as I call them) making it for me, a delicious flavour combination. The crisp also had a marmite twang which I loved.
Our next dish was the Soy Glazed Onion, Smoked Apple, Bok Choi and Cauliflower. This dish was a blend of sweet, roasted, flavours, which with an Asian influence. I adored the mix of textures within this dish, the crisp bok choi alongside the sweet, smooth roasted onion complimented each other perfectly.
This next dish was Beetroots, Golden Cross, Walnuts and Rocket, which I have to say on paper this didn’t fill me with excitement but this dish actually turned out to be the star of the show for me. The beetroot, slow cooked and reduced, brought out the most indulgent rich flavour, which just blew my mind. I never realised I could love beetroot so much! The flavours were complimented by the ever-so-slightly bitter twang of the golden cross and topped with a light touch of chocolate to really set the flavours of this dish apart from anything I’ve ever tasted. I could have eaten this dish ten times over, it really was something special.
As we opted for the vegetarian menu, we didn’t get many photos of the meatier options, this is the Pork Neck and Pork Belly being prepared for our more carnivorous dining neighbours! I can’t really comment on the meat, as I’ve been vegetarian my whole life but I heard great comments coming from our next table about this dish and saw lots of clean plates returning to the kitchen, so it seemed to be a hit.
After our culinary whirlwind, it was time to sweeten things up. Starting with a pre-dessert (I think all restaurants should serve a pre- dessert!) to refresh and rejuvenate the palette, a cool crisp Cucumber and Apple Ice, was the freshest ‘slush puppy’ I’ve ever tasted and really awakened the senses.
Next – dessert. Rhubarb Crumble and Lemon Thyme Custard. This captured all of the best bits from the classic British pudding, with the intentional ‘slightly burnt’ crumble, accompanying a mix of flavours with sharp, tart rhubarb and a sweet rhubarb sorbet for balance. This reminded me of how as a child I’d always select the piece of crumble with from the corner of the dish, with the most crispy burnt bits… obviously the chefs did the same too as they captured it perfectly. Apologies for the yellow photo, by this time the sun had set and the restaurant had just low mood lighting, which was a lovely relaxing atmosphere but difficult for photography!
Just when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore, we were treated to one last surprise. Coffee and Petit Fours. A rhubarb and almond cake and a fennel shortbread with apple. The cake had been soaked halfway up in a kind of rhubarb syrup which just melted in the mouth, with a crisp crumbly top, it was just the perfect way to round off our meal.
Overall, I absolutely loved our dining experience at Isaac At. It didn’t feel like your usual meal out, it was more than that, it was the a complete experience and culinary journey.
Even though I’d class myself as quite a foodie, I’m often daunted at the thought of fine dining, with the often unusual ingredients and bizarre blends of flavours, I find chefs push the boundaries too far to be different. However, I felt the dishes at Isaac At were unique and innovative, but they also managed to keep the idea of fresh, natural flavours at heart, bringing together different foods to compliment each dish, rather than to surprise!
If you’d like to give Isaac At a go, the set menu priced at £45 per person. I think for such detailed, fresh and innovative food this is a really reasonable price.
Isaac At is only open Fridays and Saturdays, the rest of the week the team are in preparation for the week ahead, sourcing ingredients and starting the prep work for the dishes.
To book, you can visit their website or call 07765934740. Some of the seating is communal, which is a fantastic idea for the full dining experience, if you enjoy chatting to your neighbour about the food. Myself, as I’m a bit of an introvert, I find that a bit uncomfortable at times. To get the best of both worlds there are a few tables of two dotted about. When you book online you can select your seating to ensure you have your preference and try to get a seat near the kitchen too!
A big THANK YOU to the team at Issac At for having us, it was such a lovely evening – hope to see you again soon!
I was kindly offered a complimentary meal at Isaac At for the purpose of an open and honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.