53 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, BN1 1HB www.64degrees.co.uk
In 2013, former Food for Friends and Due South head chef Michael Bremner, created this restaurant. Initially a small pop up restaurant, it quickly evolved into a creative venue for chefs to experiment with daily changing menus.
Tucked one of The Lanes’ oldest streets, Meeting House Lane, 64 Degrees is billed as ‘concept social dining’, where you may well be elbow-to-elbow with your dining partner, though you get to smell the food before it’s served. You can see it created close-up as the open kitchen and chef are an arm's length away.
The music might have been just a little on the unsubtle side, though my partner and I have a combined age of 95, so we’re hardly likely to want to ‘pump up the volume’ – see I’m already embarrassing myself.
Essentially it’s a place not for romantic trysts, but for food lovers. For foodies who love creativity and imbibe inspiration. And the opportunity is manifold – chefs use the ingredients they’re sent that day – always local and seasonal, to create up to 12 different small plates a day. Diners choose between five and six small plates to share between them – and they are served in the order they are ready in. I like the rebellion in that – despite my age.
The first to roll out from the capable hands of cool chef Josh, is hispi cabbage, butter (a dash of vinegar) comté cheese and shallots – simple ingredients make this a delicious outcome, though Josh tells us it’s the lure of copious amounts of butter.
The very helpful and smiley manager Andy, (we checked he was smiling*, even when he thought we weren’t looking) spent time navigating us through our bumbling questions about cuts of meat. Did you know that a ‘chuck’ refers to the bit between the shoulder blades?
The next plate is a cut of red gurnard, which for those who don’t know, is a prehistoric looking fish.
This meaty fish steak is served with an ochre-hued pepper sauce, grass green pesto and fleshy mussels, which, orbit around the plate.
Soon after comes cauliflower, grape and ‘poor man’s parmesan’, while Andy, (who is still smiling*) brings us a cocktail of tequila and triple sec, while chatting us through plates of shiitake mushrooms, homemade breads, and asparagus with blood orange and a luxuriant hollandaise sauce.
For meat dishes, we choose beef chuck with tarragon served with homemade sauerkraut, which adds a wonderful bite, crunch and audacity to the dish. The cut itself is usually tough, yet here it’s served pink and tender. The final meat is venison, (a haunch of venison to be precise) served with earthy flavours of roasted beetroot and walnuts.
It’s little surprise that this place has won a string of awards from Bib Gourmand by Michelin to the best restaurant at the Brighton & Hove Food Awards. It was also 16th in the National Restaurant top 100 list 2016. Yet, despite its triumphs, it remains a wonderfully kicked back, relaxed and moreish experience.
*Andy did indeed smile his way through the whole night.