Do you remember Graze on Western Road? It was a 2AA rosette restaurant serving modern British cuisine, recommended by both the Michelin Guide and The Good Food Guide. Well, it’s recently had a big old revamp (in September) and hell does it look good. It’s now known as Market Restaurant & Bar and it is a gorgeous green colour, both inside and out.
Victorian green metro tiling adorns the interior walls, juxtaposed with dazzling bevelled mirrors and a turf lawn wall. Being such a deep green you might expect the interior to feel dark, but in fact, it’s the opposite. There’s an abundance of down and side lighting creating a cosy and welcoming feeling. There’s also a fabulous kitchen bar area with high stools, allowing you a prime view of the chefs at work.
The focus of the new restaurant is creative cooking inspired by the owners’ (Kate & Neil) travels around the world and produce sourced from a handful of carefully chosen local Sussex suppliers. The menu centres around sharing and offers a wide variety of ‘small plates’ which are divided up on the menu as ‘From the Green Grocer’, ‘From the Fish Monger’, ‘From the Butcher’ and so on. If you prefer not to share your meals (I can appreciate that), there are the classics (steak and burgers) to choose from, as well as daily specials (including the fish of the day), Sunday roasts and the weekend Big MARKET Brunch.
I’ve now popped in twice over the last month and both times I had exquisite food and exceptional service. The first time I visited was with a friend after work and we worked our way through several of the small plates and a bottle of Prosecco Ca’bolani – £28.
We had the Broccoli, Kale & Tahini – £5, Scallops, Wild Boar Bacon & Honeyed Parsnip – £8, Warm Octopus, Capers & Smoked Paprika – £9.50, Venison Carpaccio, Plum & Hazelnut – £7.50.
The standout plates for me were the Broccoli & Kale, which was deliciously crispy, and the melt-in-the-mouth Scallops (always my first choice when I spot them on the menu.)
Today was the second time I dined, a special treat for my mum’s birthday. As it was Sunday the menu was limited to a selection of dishes from the main menu, and roasts (beef, lamb, belly of pork and a vegetarian option).
We chose three small plates to start, the Goat’s Cheese Churros with White Truffled Honey – £4, the Crispy Olives – £3.50 and the Crispy Fried Baby Artichokes with Aioli – £4.50.
All were beautifully cooked and presented but we were particularly enamoured with the Crispy Olives which were a whole new experience in the pleasure of eating olives. If you’re not a fan of olives this is a great way to reintroduce yourself, as the olive flavour is less overpowering in the fried tempura and complemented with the aioli dipping sauce.
Next up were the roasts, which we all went for. We had two orders of the Topside of Beef – £15, and two orders of the Pork Belly – £14, served with Yorkshire pudding, baby carrots, cauliflower cheese, as well as red and green cabbage on a bed of celeriac pureé.
Our jaws dropped when we eyed our plates gliding towards us, piled high not just with trimmings but gorgeous chunky carvings of meat too. My beef was perfectly rare, but Shane’s was a little too pink. The pork was cooked to perfection, tender with crispy crackling. Carrots were deliciously al denté (as they should be) and the gravy rich in beef flavour. Unfortunately, the potatoes were a little on the hard side, which I suspect was due to twice-roasting and our plates needed to be hotter. However, these are just little niggles that if adjusted would make this one of the best roasts in the city!
After all that we were too stuffed to make it through the dessert menu, but little did we know the lovely MARKET people had overheard it was mum’s birthday and had made up a little Blackberry and Raspberry treat for her with a birthday candle. A really nice touch and the perfect finale to a superb dining experience.
This restaurant really has had a new lease of life and you couldn’t miss it now if you walked down Western Road. Inside it’s sophisticated but warm and welcoming. There’s also a wonderful buzz about the place that makes you feel excited to be there. Above all, there’s an exceptional level of service from a highly personable and passionate team which is something that will keep me coming back here.
PRICE: £123.19 (for 4 people, including wine and a 12.5% tip)
RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss