The Inaugural ‘FOUR Sharing Kitchen’ – An Aaron Dalton Pop-Up
“Unforgettable for all the right reasons”
I’ve discovered some of the best restaurants in Brighton on the recommendation of chefs and restauranteurs. So when a friend, and the founder of Papa Pita, recommended a brand new pop-up, FOUR Sharing Kitchen from Chef Aaron Dalton, it had my attention straight away.
Modern Seasonal, British Food
Aaron has an impressive culinary CV, cutting his teeth in world-acclaimed restaurants like Chez Bruce, Fera and more recently working as Head Chef at the Smoking Goat. Mastering Michelin-service he’s now returned to his childhood home (Brighton) to launch his own series of pop-ups with modern, seasonal, British food.
Aaron’s inaugural pop-up was held back on the 1st December close to The Seven Dials. Despite being well signposted, I wasn’t confident I’d arrived at the correct entrance initially, as the only visible way in appeared to be through the kitchen. Once I’d plucked up the courage to disturb the kitchen staff at work, I was warmly welcomed through to the dining area at the back of the unit.
Dining With Effortless Elegance
The dining room was compact, filled with 40 seats, but beautifully styled. Twinkling fairy lights were strewn around the walls of the room and Chiavari chairs, mythical in their style, created an effortless elegance, alongside the crisp white tablecloths and napkins. The silverware was noticeably good quality – weighty and so well polished it could have doubled up as a mirror. The pièce de résistance – dainty posies of roses placed in clear jam jars to dress the tables.
An Excellent Start
Whilst our five-course dinner was being prepared our appetite was whet with a tasty teaser; a bite-sized morsel of crispy fish skin, lemon emulsion & nasturtium served on long, curved platters to pass down the table. The fish skin was crunchy and salty, just like crackling and the little dollop of lemon emulsion was refreshing and vibrant. It was off to an excellent start.
A delightfully light celeriac and apple soup followed our amuse bouche. More foam-like than a typical soup texture, it dissolved slowly in the mouth. Tiny nibblets of apple were sprinkled on top providing a sweet treat to end.
The next course; carrot, tarragon & hissop was a joyful journey of flavours and textures. Both purple and orange carrots provided a satisfying crunch, whilst the tarragon sorbet was refreshing and cool. Further delight came as the carrot juice blended with chickpeas jerked my taste buds awake.
Before moving on to a heavier dish we were brought an exquisite fish course to be shared between two. The catch of the day was an undisclosed white fish, cured I believe and served cold with lovage, (a relative of celery) and sea herbs with a really subtle hint of fennel flavour through it.
Eagerly anticipated, the next course was the showstopper. 18-hour slow-cooked, smoked venison came served on chunky wooden chopping boards, presented to each table with the invitation to help ourselves. Served alongside this were burnt leeks in a rich gravy and creamy soft clouds of potato and charred red and white chicory. The venison was nothing short of stunning – its texture so soft it was like biting into feather pillows. And the best news of all – plenty left for seconds.
With just about room for the final course of the evening, we completed our dining with a dessert of rhubarb, yoghurt and meringue. Not normally a huge lover of tart fruits, this actually worked for me. The sugary addition of the meringue segments and creamy yoghurt preventing the rhubarb from becoming the overpowering flavour.
RATING: Must Go | Give It A Miss | Worth A Try
SCORES ON THE DOORS: Awaiting inspection
This is one those meals that will go down as pretty unforgettable for all the right reasons. The standard of cooking and creative use of flavours were right up there with the best I’ve had in Brighton and comparable to recent reviews I’ve had the pleasure of undertaking at Isaac At and MAW from Mark Wadsworth. Furthermore, despite the concept being designed around sharing, it never felt as though the courses were stretched between guests, in fact, there was more than enough to go around twice where it was most desired.
As I think back to the evening one memory really stands out and that was how remarkably calm and collected Aaron Dalton was throughout the night, even coming to sit and discuss the courses with his guests in between service – a mark of a natural-born chef. If you’re looking for somewhere new to dine in 2017, this is should be top of your visit list.
Need To Know
Aaron’s next pop-up event will be on Friday 3rd February at Seven Dials. To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you like the look of Aaron’s first pop-up or want to know anything more, leave me a comment or tweet me @foodieeshe. And please hit the little heart button below if you liked this review.
*Disclaimer: I was invited to FOUR to review so my meal with complimentary, but as always, my opinion isn’t swayed by freebies and you are getting my honest opinion on the whole experience.