What: A relaxed but classy restaurant in central Brighton close to The Lanes. Pascere - which takes its name from the Latin word to nourish - serves ambitious modern British food with an emphasis on versatility. The restaurant offers a la carte, a tasting menu and a daytime and early evening small plates menu and the wine list has been designed to be accessible with a large number of by the glass bins.
Who: The Duke Street venue is the brainchild of business woman and food journalist Amanda Menahem. Tom Griffiths of Flank fame was originally down to open the restaurant but parted ways with Menahem a couple of months ago. Johnny Stanford, whose CV includes a long stint with Paul Kitching at Juniper in Manchester and later 21212 in Edinburgh and, more recently, The Pass at South Lodge Hotel near Horsham is now heading the stove.
The vibe: Formerly a fast casual wrap shop, the site has been remodelled to create an open kitchen on the first floor. There are two indoor dining areas seating a total of 37 covers - one downstairs and another upstairs that incorporates a four-cover kitchen counter - plus an outside terrace. Duke Street is one of Brighton’s most popular alfresco dining spots so this outside space should be a significant revenue driver during the warmer months.
The menu: For someone parachuted in at the last minute and in their first head chef role to boot, Stanford has done an impressive job. His cooking is refined, creative and well executed with a launch menu that includes Portland crab tart with shellfish custard; baby squid with parsley cream, mushroom noodles and a squid ink cracker; and confit trout with trout tartare, roast, pickled and BBQ cauliflower with elderberry meringue. Menahem has done a good job with the wine list too. The selection isn’t huge but has been curated with great attention to detail. The list kicks off with one of the city’s best ranges of sparkling wine and there’s also a good selection of affordable but interesting choices, with only a handful of wines breaking the £50 mark.
And another thing: The race to be the first chef in Brighton & Hove to bag a Michelin star is hotting up. There are now half a dozen experienced and capable chefs pushing for recognition from the little red book. Our money is on someone bringing one home in the 2018 edition of the guide.