The Set Restaurant, Dinner Review
“A new menu filled with things you’ll want to eat”
If you rest on your laurels in Brighton you’ll go out of business. There are just far too many restaurants waiting in the wings to steal your customers or take over your site.
So, changing things up and refreshing your menu is good to do now and again, and this is exactly what The Set did towards the end of last year.
For four years the restaurant was known for what it said on the door – set menus – but that’s all changed now with a simpler menu that takes on the traditional á la carte structure, alongside a few larger plates, designed to share between two.
Dine for less than £30pp, day or evening
Eating two courses at the restaurant is now doable for £30pp – at lunch or at dinner – as the new menu is offered both day and night without a break between service.
Plus, there’s also no time limit on your table occupancy after 7pm either, so if you enjoy a long, leisurely dining you can do this here.
Another exciting addition is The Set’s Chefs’ Table, an eating experience designed for open-minded food-lovers.
Seated at the kitchen pass, the concept is to place yourself in the hands of the chefs and dine from a bespoke multi-course menu and wine flight, designed to cater for each customer’s specific personal preferences and dietary requirements.
What’s more, this is only available to two couples per evening – exclusive but wonderful, don’t you think?
A new winter menu full of temptations
So what should you order if you’re dining á la carte style? Well, on the snacks front, you can’t go wrong with an oyster (£3). The Set’s taste great on their own or with their tart, citrusy ponzu (Japanese sauce).
After something hot? The chorizo croquette with paprika aioli (£3.50) is the way to go with its creamy, crisp balls of yumminess.
Sadly the crab bao starter (£7) with XO mayo and radish slaw is no longer on the menu (bring it back!) but if it does return I urge you to order it.
It was a miniature meal in itself with so much going on from the soft and squidgy bun with the crunchy slaw, and tangy XO mayo – you won’t regret ordering it I promise.
Hearty, comforting dishes
Moving onto mains and there are some really comforting wintery dishes like the hearty, rich Saddlescomb lamb (£16) with burnt cabbage puree and a bacon gratin that’s layered and pressed in a perfect rectangle.
I had my eye on the Trenchmore beef risotto (£16) with ox cheek, cured ox heart and a parsley & shallot salad. And although Dan (the founder) recommended it to me, I couldn’t ignore my gut that the lamb was the way to go.
And I’m so glad I trusted my instincts because it was heavenly. You know that level of delicious where you close your eyes as you chew and hold off swallowing your mouthful for as long as possible because you don’t want the flavour to leave your tongue. Or maybe that’s just me?
I’d also recommend the poached cod (£15), which my guest had on press night and when she came back (it was that good).
The dish comes cooked in brown butter and served with a creamy seaweed velouté (sauce) topped with tendrils of crispy squid.
FYI – you will need sides with all the courses, as the mains aren’t filling enough on their own and we had two – ratte potatoes which are small and nutty in flavour, plus greens.
However, unlike other restaurants, these aren’t astronomically priced – everything was just £2.50.
Well advised wines
Drinks wise, I really don’t know enough about wine to be left to pick it for myself, so I asked our waitress for her recommendations.
Her choice of wine turned out to be so right for me that I wanted to invite her to sit down and tell me who to marry and what house to buy.
I had the red Tragolargo (£7.50 per glass) to go with my lamb course and my friend had the white Tripoz Macon (£9 per glass) to pair with her fish.
Finally onto dessert. My guest ordered the miso tiramisu (£6.50) and I had the sticky toffee pudding (£6.50) which came with a malt ice cream and raisin and cola jelly. We adored them both and it ended of dinner on the perfect high.
A second visit
Now, having sung their praises up until now it’s only fair to talk about where they fell down when I came back for dinner on New Year’s Eve.
I arrived at four in the afternoon to a half-full restaurant, and I waited for my guest to arrive in The Fix bar (which is also handled by The Set).
Unfortunately, I noted that no one offered to take my coat or my drinks order at the bar. I had to prompt them to do this as they were busy setting up the bar.
Once my friend arrived we began chatting a while and lost track of time – again no one from the restaurant came in to say our table was ready.
Although, since they are going for a more casual vibe, this could all be put down to being less formal and not wanting to rush us.
However, when we did sit down to dine and our main course came out – the salt baked bream with ratte potatoes to share between two – it was beautifully cooked but disappointingly small for two.
It came with two sauces. The first was lovely but the second, a strange marmalade jam, was a very odd pairing with the fish that neither of us rated (or other diners I noted).
Our waiter also offered to fillet our fish at the table for us, but he left a lot under the bone and then promptly took it away before we had a chance to say otherwise.
What’s more, we had ordered a side of greens that was forgotten and meant the £27 main course to share, which just came with potatoes, was nowhere near enough for two.
In the end, we were so hungry we ordered two more croquettes (I’d already had one to start). Thankfully, after feeding back our disappointment a beautiful consommé appeared at the table for each of us, topped with a crispy onion (if I recall rightly) and this I really enjoyed.
There’s some excellent food coming out of the kitchen but there’s finessing still to do with service. Good news is, like any well-run restaurant, if you point out feedback politely at the time they’ll deal with it graciously; and I urge you to do this when something’s not right. I also really rate their breakfast/brunch menu which I’ve previously reviewed on the blog.
Rating-wise, based on press night it would be “must go” but on NYE it would be “give it a miss”, so somewhere in the middle seems fair overall.
PRICE: £80 for 2 people including wine
RATING: Must Go | Worth A Try | Give It A Miss
The Set Restaurant
33 Regency Square, Brighton BN1 2GG
*Disclaimer: I was invited to dine with my guest but as you’ve read, when things aren’t up to scratch I still say so.
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