What: An organic small plates restaurant within jewellery shop Pressleys in Brighton’s The Lanes area. Taking its name from the year the business was founded, 1909 is located on the first floor of the building and serves lunch Tuesday and Wednesday and lunch and dinner Thursday through to Saturday.
Who: 1909 is being overseen by well-known Brighton chef Jake Northcote-Green, whose CV includes sous chef and head chef roles at Plateau and the now closed pan-Asian restaurant Yum Yum Ninja respectively. More recently, he ran Brighton street food outfit Guerilla Grill. He is assisted by Thomas Hardy in the kitchen and Jon Grice front of house, both former Plateau team members.
The vibe: As the dozens of spotlights on the ceiling attest, the space was formerly a showroom and retains the upscale feel of the rest of the shop with an expensive looking marble bar that skirts the central kitchen and bar area, parquet flooring, floor-to-ceiling mirrors and a gold-hued rear wall. The overall impression is rather less ostentatious than that description might suggest.
The food: Northcote-Green says he wants to defy people’s expectations at 1909. “People think about a restaurant in a jewellery shop and they think champagne, caviar and high prices. We didn’t want to do that.” Instead, 1909 offers a tight menu of small plates with dishes priced between £5 and £7. The food is probably best described as modern British with some dishes drawing influence from Japan and Italy. While small plates are nothing new in Brighton & Hove, Northcote-Green’s rustic, ingredient-led style makes 1909 stand out from the crowd. The drinks menu is focused on low intervention wines. There is a by-the-glass menu alongside a regularly changing by-the-bottle selection that showcases the output of four different producers at any one time.
On the menu: Dishes includes pork cheek and parsley cencioni; grouse potsticker with shiitake dashi and greens; and aubergine with fermented negi (a type of onion). The menu concludes with two cheeses and two desserts; plum with hazelnut and clotted cream; and yogurt with salted cherry sorbet.
And another thing: 1909’s limited hours allows it to operate with one of the smallest teams we’ve come across - just three full-time members of staff and a part time KP. The 40-cover restaurant was being ably run by the three on our visit, with Northcote-Green manning the PDQ machine as well as the pass.
26-27 East Street, Brighton