What: A restaurant bar - or possibly a bar restaurant - close to Brighton’s The Lanes area in the site that was once home to Coach House. Burnt Orange is hoping to blur the lines between restaurant and bar to create a ‘grown-up, late-night hangout’ with high quality food and drink and a music programme curated by superstar DJ (and Hove resident) Norman Cook.
Who: Burnt Orange is the fourth project for predominantly Brighton & Hove-based restaurateur Razak Helalat (The Salt Room, The Coal Shed). Helalat says Burnt Orange is born out of innumerable conversations with Brighton & Hove-based friends and customers bemoaning the lack of grown-up (and crucially bookable) places for late-night eating and drinking in the city. Interestingly he is not the only local operator looking to fill this niche, with Steven Edwards currently in the process of adding an ambitious cocktail bar to his Hove flagship Etch. Former The Salt Room chef Peter Dantanus is overseeing the food.
The vibe: Helalat initially billed the project as something quite low key and low effort, but like a lot of restaurateurs that take on former pubs he hasn’t been able to resist giving a neglected building a total overhaul. The space has been completely remodelled and fitted out to a notably high standard to offer 54 internal covers; a private dining room for 10 upstairs; and a 28-cover courtyard area.
The food: In common with Black Rock Group’s other places Burnt Orange focuses on high quality seasonal ingredients cooked mainly over fire. The small plates menu is designed to be picky and encourage sharing, kicking off with raw and cured dishes and plates designed to be eaten without a knife and fork before moving onto more substantial dishes cooked in a wood-fired oven and sides. Highlights include spiced raw beef with crispy polenta and sheep’s cheese; crispy smoked lamb shoulder cigars with padron yoghurt; Galician octopus with harissa truffle butter and potatoes; Mangalitza pork belly shawarma; and grilled peach and green beans with smoked ricotta and almonds. Prices are fair given the premium feel of the venue, with most of the larger meat and fish-based plates priced under £10 and most smaller plates around £5.
To drink: Much attention has been paid to the liquid side of the business with cocktails and wine given roughly equal billing. Cocktails include El Toro (tequila, hibiscus syrup, apricot brandy, agave syrup, lime juice); Espresso Date (cognac, date syrup, Nocello, espresso); and the eponymous Burnt Orange Martini (Salcombe Gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, grilled orange skin, olive). The wine list offers 18 reds and 18 whites with prices starting at £22 a bottle and topping out at around £60.
And another thing: The iron gate that leads to Burnt Orange's courtyard reads 'Right Here, Right Now' in honour of one of Cook's most famous songs. Fatboy Slim has hand-picked each track Burnt Orange plays and continues to update the playlists with new music. With international DJing largely off the cards for the past year or so Cook has had a lot of time on his hands. In fact, we hear that he was so bored during lockdown he took to manning the coffee machine at his Big Beach Cafe in Hove.
59 Middle St, Brighton BN1 1AL