Pascere in a nutshell
A cool and calm restaurant just off The Lanes of Brighton, with stylish interiors, seasonal, produce-led small plates, a la carte dishes and tasting menus, and friendly and slick service.
Pascere restaurant review
Head south towards the sea from Brighton’s train station and veer left to find yourself in The Lanes, a warren of narrow alleyways bursting with art galleries and independent shops flogging vintage clothes and antiques. Just to the side of The Lanes, on pedestrianised Duke Street, an elegant addition to Brighton’s restaurant scene has just opened.
Pascere is the first venture from Amanda Menahem, previously the food and drink editor of Platinum Business magazine. Amanda has really soaked up how to kit out a restaurant from her time in the magazine industry, as this small restaurant gets everything right; from the calming colour scheme to the elegant, thin-stemmed wine glasses hanging above the bar in the corner. Interiors are stylish yet cosy, with marble tables, comfy chairs, and a leather and suede mustard banquette hugging a blue teal panelled wall.
The restaurant is fronted with large glass panel windows, allowing you to peer at passers by and diners on the outdoor terrace on busy Duke Street. You can also get a view of the street from the tables that fit snuggly into the bay windows in the upstairs dining room. Or sit at the white tiled counter and watch as chefs add finishing touches to dishes in the open kitchen.
The restaurant was highly anticipated due to chef Tom Griffiths of Flank (one of our chefs to watch here), however it was agreed by both parties that it “wasn’t quite the right fit”, and Tom is instead working on the next Flank pop up. Senior sous chef Johnny Stanford (previously of the Pass restaurant at South Lodge Hotel in Horsham), who had been developing the menu with the team prior to opening, stepped up to man the kitchen, and he’s done a brilliant job with his respect for produce and flair for clean, refined flavour combinations. There is an all-day a la carte and small plates menu, plus an additional tasting menu in the evenings (FYI the whole table needs to order this).
Whether you’re sticking to small plates or going for a three course a la carte, we recommend to start with a small plate of chicken croquettes – with a thinner outer shell than your average, these little balls were a refined take on the deep-fried snack, and came packed with chunky pieces of chicken leg and thigh meat in a creamy béchamel sauce. A caramelised chicken skin mayo made for a great dipping sauce (though we didn’t feel the chicken skin powder sprinkled on top added much in the way of flavour nor texture).
Starters proper were well presented and full of flavour – silky, thick-cut cured trout was served with a horseradish cream (light in texture, punchy in flavour without overpowering the fish), while a pretty palette of roasted golden and purple baby beetroot halves with an airy goat’s cheese mousse, slithers of fresh apple, wilted leaves and dehydrated goat’s cheese rind crumb (waste not, want not!).
Waiters were happy to recommend wines to pair with each dish, speaking fluently about flavour notes. We started with an aromatic and tropical white Portuguese alentejo, and a rioja gran verdi that was very heavy on the cherry with a bright finish.
As we’d hope for in a seaside town, fish and seafood are well represented on Pascere’s menu. Stone bass, a white fish with large flakes, was pan-fried to gain a super crisp skin, and served with little onions roasted until sticky and caramelised, a burnt caramelised onion purée, dinky wild mushrooms and crunchy seaweed and sea kale as a nod to its coastal home. This was paired with a fresh and zesty organic white rioja, lemony and delicate enough to complement the fish.
Puddings are by no means an after thought (try our fab puddings here). Amanda recommended the buttermilk sponge, selling it as a “lighter sticky toffee pudding”. True to her promise, the sponge had a thin crisp golden crust on top and came with balancing milk ice cream, golden homemade honeycomb and a crunchy reduced milk crumb. Velvety, rich chocolate mousse also sat on a reduced milk crumble, this time with malted milk ice cream.
With Amanda’s natural eye for interior design and Johnny’s simple top-notch cooking, the pair have created an exciting addition to Brighton’s thriving restaurant scene.
The highlight was modestly described as “beef cheek pappardelle”, when in fact it came as a huge chunk of melting beef cheek, slow-cooked for six hours in a stock reduction that was then poured over the meat and its bed of silky homemade pappardelle ribbons. Finished off with a generous grating of aged parmesan, this rich dish was paired with a soft and fruity grenache from the Languedoc, France.
Price-range: Mid-range, tasting menu £65
Photographs by Julia Claxton and Alex Crossley