What: A restaurant and bar on a newly created street in Brighton’s The Lanes area. An attractive new build, The Flint House is the only F&B outlet within this £100m mixed use development to the rear of the old Hanningtons department store building. While the larger units on North Street have mostly been let, the spaces earmarked for trendy boutique retail appear to have been a tougher sell for developer Redevco.
Who: Respected Brighton & Hove restaurateurs Ben and Pamela McKellar. Few know the city’s restaurant and wider hospitality landscape better than this husband and wife duo, who launched fine dining restaurant The Gingerman back in 1998. The pair have since opened three pubs under the Ginger brand in and around the city serving simpler yet still high quality food. In recognition of the fact that the venture is different to anything the group has done before, The Flint House does not carry any Ginger branding (although it is part of the same holding company). Tom Wright - most recently behind the stove at the pair’s Kemptown pub The Ginger Dog - is head chef overseen by Ben, who has a cooking CV that includes a stint with John Burton-Race at L’Ortolan and time in France and the US.
The vibe: The Flint House has a kitchen with counter seating plus a few tables downstairs and a bar and terrace above. The initial plan was for upstairs being solely for drinking, but due to unexpected and many would say unreasonable licensing restrictions given that the site has A4 planning status, the pair are required to offer food throughout the venue. The aesthetic is boldly modern with matte gold chairs upholstered with palm fronds prints, marble tables, exposed ducting and modern art. It all gels together well, with the pair succeeding in creating an Instagram-worthy space while avoiding the trap of making the place look like a Made.com showroom.
Miso mackerel, fennel, pomegranate
The food: The McKellars have been influenced by the likes of Barrafina in terms of both operations and the menu. "It’s tapas-style but not Spanish,” Ben told BigHospitality ahead of the launch. “We’ll stick to our usual style of modern British cooking using quality local produce. I’m not a fan of small plates as a descriptor but there will be a mix of small plates, snacks and larger dishes designed to share.” Dishes have been designed to be cooked and served quickly, with the pair hoping for a quick turnover of tables in most cases.
On the menu: The A3 printed menu includes braised squid, ‘nduja, olive, tomato; roast pumpkin, mascarpone , chilli sesame; slow roast lamb belly, green sauce, anchovy; confit potato, aioli; and steamed almond sponge, pear, olive oil ice cream. Prices are approachable with most plates prices between £5 and £10.
To drink: With an upstairs that’s geared towards drinking The Flint House has a comprehensive drinks list that pays equal attention to cocktails and wine. Unusually, nearly all of the 50-odd bins are available by the glass with the pair relying on a healthy volume of sales rather than preservation systems. Prices start at a competitive £4 a glass and top out at £13.95. The terrace has been launched in partnership with nearby sparkling wine producer Ridgeview.
The upstairs bar
And another thing: The lack of immediate neighbours in the newly created street is a concern, but a number of top-end brands are expected to move in shortly. Happily for the McKellars, The Flint House has a prominent location at the end of the development that's easily visible to anyone exploring The Lanes. This coupled with their rep and decision to create something that is quite different from anything else in the city should see them through.