With an accolade of Masterchef professionals winner 2013, and winning young chef of the year in 2010, could Stephen Edwards and his restaurant live up too my expectations, or indeed the hype?
"Etch" is his vision.
With a beautiful open kitchen and small amount of covers (only 12 tables) The atmosphere as a comforting softness without a loss of class that alot of other restaurants within his level fail to achieve.
Most, if not all the tables are served by him at some point in the evening, it's a wonderful touch. The staff are sweet and chatty, but most importantly knowledgable.
So now down to the "Nitty-Gritty" the food.
Greeted by smartly dressed waiting staff in tweed waistcoats, but with out the pomp and fuss I was expecting for a high end restaurant. I felt very at ease when entering.
Seated on a small table for two with my friend and fellow 'foodie' Vicky, opposite the wonderful open kitchen, we watched the seemingly smooth preparation of the first dishes of the evening.
We decided on the seven course tasting menu with the wine pairing. At 'Etch' you have a choice of 5, 7,or 9 courses in the tasting menu, all of which looked intriguing.
Before we both had more than a few heavenly sips of our cocktails we are served by a member of the kitchen with a shiny brioche bun, sat next to a smooth whipped seaweed-infused butter, with a nod to our fair city with the butter sitting on a pebble, I had to smile at that.
Tearing into the dark brioche, steam puffing out, we spread the Seaweed-infused butter, the taste was glorious.
Love or hate marmite, I'm pretty sure that this is a dish that would please both sides of the ongoing debate.
Next was the 2nd pre starter, a small plate of 4 beautifully flavoured bite sized balls, 2 filled with mushrooms, a perfect tiny morsel, created 2 happy faces.
First course, and a surprising highlight for me, was the 'Asparagus pea soup'. A light and foamy soup that packed such amazing flavour you could not wait for the next spoonful, but the best part was the jelly cubes at the bottom that burst with a punch that had you digging to find more.
Then came the Cod and lettuce, the cod was cooked to perfection, and it had the perfect partner in the lightly grilled lettuce. The wine pairing works incredibly well, I finished the plate far to fast, and the two of us hardly spoke during this course, there were just a lot of mmmming, and ahhhhing in total agreement that this was a brilliant dish.
Next came the duck and cucumber, its like a deconstructed duck pancake, with all the flavours and tastes you expect but served in such a way it takes your brain a few seconds to register the flavours.
Little did I know the next dish would metaphorically blow my socks off! Titled simply 'Beetroot horseradish' you may scan past it when first looking at the menu - It has layer upon layer of textures and subtile twangs of earthy beetroot, sweet beetroot and the spicy kick of the horseradish that gives you a new found respect for the apparent complexities that such a simple vegetable can produce.
Paired so perfectly with a beautiful risling (a wine I tend to avoid) the dish was a credit to the lovely red veg.
After, we had the next dish 'Lamb and turnip' I think the last time I heard the word 'turnip' was watching a re-run of Blackadder, that is a shame they contain in a 100 gram serving only has 28 calories. Surprisingly, it's also loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C! The lamb was beautifully pink and cut like butter, this was served with a cheeky Petit Verdot from Argentina.
We finished with a chocolate dessert with a popcorn twile and the finally of 'Kiwi and elderflower' a sweet ending to a magical night - made more surprising by the appearance of an Ice wine from the Changyu Estate in China - Yes I said china, I was amazed by the beautiful fruit blends that sung through in this wine, It seems after years of blending the most amazing teas as a country, they are turning their skills to wine, with wonderful results.
To sum up. I found Etch to be a wonderful experience, with the nice personal touches of staff that put you totally at ease, and know more about the dishes than most waiting staff in the top end of the restaurant industry. You can feel the care and attention in each dish, and the fact that the menu is only going to expand and grow each month with new ideas, tastes, and presentation.
Though this kind of night is a higher end budget, I know you will not be disappointed with the food equivalant to the sights and sounds of the theatre, immerse yourself in the whole experience.
Long may the show go on.
Any visitor and food wise Brightonian will have heard of Etch