Dippy egg and soldiers, smoked brandade and creathnach butter

Chard, Brighton: restaurant review

Try plump scallops in silky béarnaise, kipper doughnuts and blushing pink lamb chops with wild garlic dressing at this small but mighty Hove restaurant

Chard in a nutshell

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A hidden Hove gem with stylish interiors, a warm welcome and deftly executed seasonal, locality-focussed plates.


Who’s cooking?

This three-person family operation began life as a hugely successful pop-up at the Rust Cafe in Brighton last year. The team have since found a permanent location, sharing premises with a boutique interiors store in Hove. In the kitchen is sculptor-turned-cook Benny Sullivan, and front of house are Ciarán and the chef’s sister Mae.


What’s the vibe?

You’d barely know Chard was there if you walked past it, save for a small chalkboard propped up at the shop doorway, inviting you to ring the vintage doorbell.

Ushered past French farmhouse homewares, you ascend a candlelit spiral staircase into a small but airy whitewashed room (space enough for just 20 covers), brightened by large windows either end and pale-wood floorboards. Pine tables are simply dressed with off-white crumpled linen tablecloths and napkins, hand-thrown flower-filled vases and brass candleholders. With a long worktop, fitted drawers and a coffee machine along one wall, it feels like someone’s artfully Provençal-styled kitchen-diner (although the kitchen proper is two flights down in the basement).

Service is welcoming, informal and chatty. Chard has the hidden-gem vibe of the best kind of supper club.

Chard, Brighton

What’s the food like?

The family’s roots are in Ireland and this is subtly reflected in Benny’s monthly changing dinner menu: her playful starter of dippy egg (encased in a wafer-thin breadcrumb crust) comes with pumpkin seed soda bread soldiers, a deeply smoky haddock and potato brandade and sea salty creathnach (dulse)-loaded butter. The eyebrow-raising kipper doughnut is a stunner, the fishy filling within its soft savoury casing subtle, but then lifted by a smooth, sweet beet and rhubarb ketchup, and fennel confit topping.

Kipper doughnut, beet and rhubarb ketchup, and fennel confit
Kipper doughnut, beet and rhubarb ketchup, and fennel confit

Both mains were wipe-the-plate-clean sublime. Half a dozen plump, butter-soft scallops (just the bases lightly caramelised), came bathed in a silky béarnaise with hints of aniseed, alongside samphire and al dente spears of asparagus. Two huge French-trimmed lamb chops (melt-in-the-mouth blushing pink meat and sweet slivers of succulent fat within) that insisted on being gnawed at the end, came with a powerhouse wild garlic dressing, a bread, basil and heirloom tomato salad, feta-like medita buttermilk and pistachio shards.

Lamb chops, bread salad, pistachio and medita buttermilk
Lamb chops, bread salad, pistachio and medita buttermilk

For dessert, a fun retro ice cream sandwich comes wrapped in paper, tied in string – the light cardamom ice cream sits between two giant triangles of coffee and chocolate bourbon biscuits.

Cardamom, coffee and chocolate ice cream sandwich
Cardamom, coffee and chocolate ice cream sandwich

A thick, creamy vanilla posset is cut through with a topping of tart stewed rhubarb, rhubarb sorbet and an almond snap.

Vanilla posset, rhubarb sorbet and almond crisp
Vanilla posset, rhubarb sorbet and almond crisp

And the drinks?

The wine list is concise – five whites and five reds, with rosé, dessert and sparkling options (including a local Sussex Breaky Bottom cuvée). Bottled kombuchas are an option for those not drinking alcohol.


olive tip

At the rear of the shop is a curtained-off private dining room with a mobile drinks bar for groups who want to book ahead for a special occasion. Or pop in during the day for homemade cakes and locally roasted coffee.


Chard, I Gigi General Store, 31a Western Road, Hove BN3 1AF

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Words by Dominic Martin