When you watch one of your dinner’s ingredients being delivered along the seafront, and it appears half an hour later, sautéed to perfection, as the bed for your moist pork roulade (stuffed with truffles), home-made black pudding tagliatelle and crackling, there is a certain sublime symmetry to it all.
As well as being extremely fresh, few ingredients used in head chef Michael Bremner’s flavoursome dishes have come far. Bremner has been with Due South for just over a year, and has made his mark. He and the team source at least 80% of their biodynamic and organic produce from within a 35-mile radius of Brighton Beach. Each month’s ‘guest oyster’ is the only thing on the food menu from outside the county.
Our excellent waiter Stuart talked us through May’s menu – the dishes change to reflect what’s growing in Sussex each month. He brought, as an aperitif, a glass of Limney Estate Sparkling (2005 organic), which had travelled just a hop, skip and a jump from nearby Rotherfield. Its surprisingly subtle, smooth mousse and finish bode well for the future of Sussex’s ‘fizz’ production. We accompanied it with a single Jersey oyster that slipped down as smoothly as the bubbly.
Due South’s starter menu is delightfully inventive. I chose chilled nettle & sorrel gazpacho – this was a little salty, but a curved dollop of wild garlic mousse added kick to the subtle flavours. Vegetarians and carnivores alike will love the assiette of South Downs beetroot, while ‘piscatarians’ must try the Due South sashimi. Turbot, brill, red mullet and sea bass was served with lemon and home-made soy sauces on a slate platter, garnished with edible flowers. Beautiful.
My friend’s main course was the chef’s special of pan-roasted rib eye steak served with truffle-crushed potato and that fresh cabbage. The medium-rare meat was from Castle Farm in Hartfield, and melted in the mouth. My pork dish, sadly, had a little too much tagliatelle, and the balance was not as good as it could have been. The bed of cabbage was, however, delicious. My glass of Plumpton Rosé 2008 was quite dry but fruity, while a glass of Nero d’Avola 2007 had raspberry notes that went well with my friend’s steak.
The pièce de résistance of the evening was the choice of desserts. If, like us, you want the whole menu, you could opt for the selection of desserts to share, which offers a smaller portion of three dishes of your choice from the menu. Inspired. We loved the steamed rhubarb pudding with golden syrup ice cream, a tangy blend of sponge and fruit, and the poached strawberry & white balsamic panna cotta. There wasn’t a strong beetroot flavour to the Due South beetroot baked Alaska, but the opposing heat of the cake and the biting cold of the ice-cream centre, coupled with a crunchy biscuit base, was sublime. The accompanying glass of Chateau La Garenne 2005 (organic) and excellent espresso coffees finished off a very good menu.
The view from our window table was definitely a bonus – beach, sea, the atmospheric West Pier, its skeleton silhouetted against the sunset – but it wasn’t a necessity. An evening at this cosy but elegant restaurant, wherever you sit, will be memorable.
Food – 4/5
Venue – 5/5
Value – 4/5
Cuisine type – Sussex flavours with a French twist
Dinner for two (excl. drinks) – £69
139 King’s Road Arches,
East Sussex, BN1 2FN