Part of a luxury hotel in a strip of Brighton teeming with such establishments, The Restaurant at Drakes is one of the reasons that the hotel stands out from the crowd. While the hotel itself holds plenty of attraction – modern, romantic and stylish, with pampering packages and gift bundles available for the visitors – it’s Andrew Mackenzie’s food that draws notably high praise.
The restaurant follows Drakes’ design ethos down to the ground – it’s light, intimate and comfortable, such as you’d expect to find in a place which offers relaxation as a prime selling point. Given its quality and renown, it’s not the kind of eatery where you’d feel entirely comfortable slipping in for a bite to eat wearing your spa robe and slippers, but the starched formality of some of Brighton’s less-loved restaurants is conspicuous by its absence.
Short, frequently-changing menus (a la carte, a tasting menu and Sunday lunch) embellish familiar British dishes with neatly-prepared flourishes. Roast grouse comes served with bread sauce, roasted parsnips, cavolo nero and game jus; fillet of brill with garlic leeks, salsify, poached oyster and lobster sauce. Modern classics like mushrooms on toast and poached egg, butternut squash ravioli with sage butter, and duck breast with confit leg and cherry sauce also feature. Oysters and lobster play a heavy part in the dishes, as do game and high-end cuts of meat and fish - lending more of an emphasis to the impression of the hotel as an indulgent weekend retreat. However, the Sunday lunch provides a glimpse of the best that the kitchen can offer as well, accessibly.
The restaurant is small, comfy and charming, and a cocktail menu and wine list are also available – with the cocktail list providing a particularly enviable selection of classic, bespoke and trendy options to choose from. The focus tends to be on long drinks and spirits, although a good selection of wines and champagnes are available.
Most mornings on the Sussex coast, fishermen in lonely boats lope out into the sunrise - whether the waters are placid or rough - and they bring home some of the best seafood in the world. Cooking out of The Restaurant at Drakes, in Brighton, Chef Andrew MacKenzie has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal - and few have made as much of the opportunity.
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