Review: Etch, Hove
Muddy heads to Hove, to try Masterchef's Steven Edwards’ Etch tasting menu. But can we manage all 9 sumptuous courses?
Understated chic comes to mind when we arrive at the newly refurbished Etch on Church Street in Hove, Brighton. The baby of chef Steven Edwards, best known for winning the 6th series of MasterChef: The Professionals in 2013, (one of the youngest ever winners at the age of 26.) Impressive!
He is clearly passionate, (as great chefs are), about his work and explains that the ingredient-led menu at Etch utilises quality produce from in and around the surrounding Sussex countryside. His dishes are created using two main ingredients per plate and unusually no spice is used (not even pepper). Instead the intense flavours are created by reducing and enhancing ingredients to get a purity of taste.
The foodie hotspot has just undergone a swanky makeover and is now smarted dressed in dark blue and orange with modern art adorning the walls. Steven wants the food to be the star here, so there’s no fussy tableware or gaudy glasses at the 12 tables and simple booths tucked into the edge of the restaurant. Previously a bank, the new layout gives views of an open kitchen & bar where the talented chef and his team product exquisite plates celebrating local produce using monthly changing tasting menus. There’s also a secret bar downstairs opening at the end of November (see below), which is chic and modern, and the perfect place to sample some of the amazing cocktails on the menu.
SCOFF AND QUAFF
So what did we eat? As we were signed up for the full 9 courses (loosens belt), we went in with perhaps too much gusto and overindulged on the amazing Marmite bread and first course snacks that arrived looking almost too good to eat, but we did obviously.
Soup was up first; a deliciously creamy butternut squash with crispy sage, pumpkin oil and toasted seeds that arrived with a mini goats cheese cone (which resembled a baby ice-cream sat in a bowl of dried beans!) but tasted like a mouthful of magic.
The fish course next was thankfully light and comprised butter roasted line caught brill from Hastings, served with lardo and crispy tarragon noodles. Next up came roasted breast of duck, so tender it melted, served with a duck leg and chicory tart tatin with a Waldorf salad garnish of caramelised walnuts, blue cheese, grapes and lovage.
Following that courses included an amazing ‘Dippy Egg’ (below), sprinkled with crispy smoked duck ham and onions alongside a toasted duck-fat soldier for dipping, that arrived nestled on a bed of straw. It was fun to look at but even more fun to eat! But our hands down favourite was the Scallops (pictured at top of review), which were served alongside cuttlefish orzo, split buttermilk sauce and air-dried tomato – the flavours literally exploded in the mouth.
By now we were slowing up and when the divine marinated hogget rump arrived we needed to dig deep. Slow cooked with buttered and braised leeks, hogget sauce, leek oil and oyster leaf it was exquisite.
It’s not often Muddy is defeated by a meal, but the magnificent and multiple courses were so decadent we did have to forgo the cheese (just to make sure we had space for dessert of course).
The divinely rich chocolate mousse made with Caraibe 66% dark chocolate single origin and sea salt came alongside the interesting flavour of cep ice-cream, which wasn’t to our personal taste not being mushroom fans, but was a clever choice to keep the palate interested!
To finish, a clean fruity little number of blackberry parfait with shortbread, sheep’s yoghurt sorbet, fresh blackberries and purple sorrel which was as refreshing as it was pretty and the perfect final note to a magnificent meal!
THE MUDDY VERDICT
GOOD FOR Obviously this is a special occasion venue for those who are really into their food. If you want an experience to remember and your taste buds to be challenged treat yourself (or someone else as gift vouchers are available and would make a lovely present if you want to impress!).
NOT FOR Fussy eaters, you need to enjoy trying new things. This is a real gourmet experience so if you always opt for the blandest item on the menu it would be totally wasted on you!
Etch offers a choice five, seven or nine course monthly changing menus. £95 for 9 courses, £80 for 7 courses, £65 for 5 courses. Gift vouchers available. Open from Wednesday to Saturday for dinner and Friday to Sunday for lunch.