MAW: A fine dining pop up in Brighton Square
There are a select few Brighton restaurants that offer what I consider fine-dining. Those that do, carefully craft courses that complement one another and pay close attention to the quality of the ingredients used. The best also plate up the courses in a way that makes you want to eat a dish, even if it’s ordinarily something you would not like. MAW restaurant falls into this category.
The name ‘MAW’ (meaning the gullet of a greedy person), came up while chef Mark Wadsworth and his wife, Alex, (which are also their initials), were thinking what to name the pop ups. Mark wanted to have a meaning to the name, and with the menu being a tasting of fantastic ingredients, the word ‘greed’ suited well.
Opening its doors in the heart of The Lanes, in Brighton Square, back in April – it’s with us for a limited time (until the end of August), offering a 7-course set menu for £45pp + £3 corkage for wine.
On a rare, wonderfully warm Friday evening, my guest and I arrived at the glass-fronted pop up slightly earlier than told, with hopes of bagging the best table. First impressions were good, as Alex the host and partner in the pop up venture, welcomed us warmly and offered to chill the wine we’d brought with us.
Shortly after we were seated at a candle-lit table in the window, a wooden chopping board with chunks of squidgy Sourdough bread, from local Artisan bakery, Sugardough of Hove, was in front of us. Setting the standard for the following course, it came with a moreish truffle butter, chicken crisp and sprinkling of mushroom salt.
A blend of delicate & sweet flavours, the raw salmon, alongside a light and creamy avocado puree and sweet, fresh mango chunks cleansed our pallet and prepared us for the following courses.
A chicken wing with a precise dollop of Thai red curry with coconut & coriander followed; the meat of which was perfectly tender and salty, but not oversalted. Alongside it, two more small bites of rice crackers with an excellent crunch, topped with pork, kimchi, pickled cucumber and peanut.
Then a gazpacho-like dish of yellowfin tuna with octopus, olives, chorizo, almonds and basil in a cool, tomato juice was presented. Yellowfin is one of the larger tuna species, popular in raw fish dishes, especially sashimi. The dish was complex and clever, the bright pink beetroot dyed tomato sauce running into the yellow basil oil like spilled paint. Refreshing to taste and complemented well by the sweetness of the basil. It appeared that just three courses in, we were already experiencing our biggest wow moment of the evening.
Following this, another superb course with a contrast of textures, flavours, and colours. A tender lamb shoulder was accompanied by a spiced creamy yogurt, crumbly granola, and pomegranate jewels injecting a sweet and sour punch.
Cider-braised pork (and excellent crispy crackling) alongside thinly sliced yellow and purple beetroot and a stunningly sweet apple puree completed the heavenly main courses.
When is a meal complete without a cheese break between courses? Never. MAW knows this too, so next up were two tiny balls of brie with a ruby port. Potent and goey the balls were gone in a bite.
The sweet was simple but pleasant. Strawberries with whipped balls of camomile cream, grated powdery meringue, white chocolate, white soy and pepper sprinkled on top (to bring out the flavour of the strawberries). If this wasn’t enough to impress us, for our last treat of the night we were presented with a glass sweetie box, full of liqueur chocolate balls. The final taste sensation in a sensational meal. We could just about manage it…
RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
SCORES ON THE DOORS: No score yet – awaiting inspection from FSA
MAW’s Summer Tasting Menu sets the bar high for competitor pop up restaurants to follow (and I hope more do). The set menu feels equal to that of Isaac At over on Gloucester Road and we left a large tip to reflect how much we enjoyed the evening. I’ll definitely be back for MAW.
NEED TO KNOW:
Two tasting menus are available, including a vegetarian option, and any dietary requirements can be catered for with advanced notice. To book a table at MAW visit Tabl.com.
Upcoming dates include:
- Week 1: 4th, 5th & 6th August
- Week 2: 11th, 12th & 13th August
- Week 3: 18th, 19th August
Have your tried MAW yet, or are you tempted now? Or do you have another pop up you recommend I try? Either way, let me know be leaving me a comment below.
*Disclaimer: I was invited to review MAW by Tabl, but as always, my opinion isn’t swayed by freebies and you are getting my honest opinion on the whole experience.