Semone Bonner, Chef and Co-Owner of The Set Restaurant in Brighton and the relaunched, Set Cafe, talks food with me…
Bonner, as he refers to himself, is a Brighton-born Chef who’s worked at several renowned restaurants, including The Ginger Pig, Hotel Du Vin and The Grand Hotel. In March 2015, he opened The Set Restaurant with fellow Chef Dan Kenny, and just this month, The Set Cafe.
Here’s what Bonner had to say when I interviewed him for the first in my new monthly Chef Q&A series:
1. What one recipe would you recommend from your current menu and why?
There has been only one dish we haven’t taken off the menu at any point in the first six months of being open, so in that sense it has to be the signature. Cereal Milk Panna Cotta, cereal and honey granola, homemade sugar puffs, milk ice cream and crunchy milk foam.
2. You’re stranded on a desert island. What three ingredients do you take with you and what would you make with them?
Garlic, without fail. Just amazing, adds sweet heat to anything and you just can’t beat the smell. Plant a couple and have a lovely supply of delicious green shoots.
Potatoes. Can’t go wrong with a spud, the most versatile of all the veg. Who doesn’t like spuds and after recently watching the Matt Damon film “Martian” it can be planted to grow more, all round winner.
A goat. A constant supply of milk and a decent bit of company until I’m close to being rescued then a delicious last feast! I would dig a pit fire, chuck in my prepped goat, rubbed with loads of garlic and roasted potatoes all wrapped up in palm leaves and loads of foraged aromatic leaves.
3. Black pudding is apparently now a superfood, what’s your top tip for cooking it well?
We make our own here at the restaurant, so important to add lots of moisture, there’s nothing worse than a dry black pudding. We use plenty of cream, veal jus and apple juice if we’re serving it with pork and then plenty of fat in the form of lardo (a salted back fat from pig).
When re-heating, baste the cooked pudding with some stock to keep the moisture and heat gently under the grill. if you do want that caramelised crunch then roll it through hot foaming butter but in nice large pieces so it stays lovely and moist in the centre.
4. What’s your guilty food pleasure? Do you like any weird but wonderful fusions?
Birds Eye potato waffles, cooked in the toaster and covered with malt vinegar and an unhealthy amount of salt. Enough said.
5. What’s the best meal you’ve ever had in a restaurant in Brighton and where was it (aside from your own kitchen)?
The boys at 64 degrees are smashing it with some of the most creative dishes around. I couldn’t get enough of the simple but brilliant cockles with cider vinegar and the Kentucky fried pheasant the last time I was there.
I tip my hat to what they are doing at 64, one of the handful of places around the city that are not just pulling recipes from books and calling them their own, genuine creativity and passion.
The food scene in Brighton is rumbling along at a great pace and there are a good amount of destination dining places in the city now. It was really hard to pick this one because there were a good couple of places that came close, which is amazing considering that 10 years ago, Brighton had one, two perhaps arguably three good restaurants.
Need to know
The Set Restaurant keeps it simple with three, four-course tasting menus to choose from, using local suppliers and changing with the seasons. It’s intimate, just 20 tables, and dining is designed to be a friendly, relaxed and unpretentious experience. There’s an even an open kitchen so you can watch the Chefs work their magic on your plates.
The Set Cafe, formerly The Set of Scales, reopened on the 7th January 2016 serving snacks, small dishes, cheese and puddings, (with some delicious veggie options) and adjoins The Set Restaurant at Artist Residence.
So what’s your guilty food pleasure? Leave me a comment and let me know. I’ve always been a fan of Bovril and Cucumber on Cream Crackers myself… It’s a lot nicer than it sounds I promise! Oh and do subscribe to the blog or like my Facebook page to be sure not to miss the following Chef Q&As coming up…
- Sam Hutchins, Head Chef at The Urchin
- Alan Rosenthal, Author of ‘Ultimate One-Pot Dishes and ‘Stewed!’
- Thomas Griffiths, Head Chef at Flank
- Sam Lambert, Head Chef at 64 Degrees
Photography by: www.justindesouza.com