When eating in a restaurant, no matter how good the food, what we don’t normally expect is to have any real contact with the process and people actually cooking.
I rarely photograph people and when I do, it tends to be awkward and quick. It’s torture to point a camera at someone.
I focus on pictures of food and scenes without people firstly, because I find these mesmerising, because food is beautiful, because I want to remember so many things I’ve had the privilege of eating. And because, well...I'm shy.
Enter 64 degrees in Brighton. While I’d heard many raving about it, the real revelation was our interaction with food and chef. Here, the kitchen is a part of the restaurant and diners can sit at a counter and watch as the support washes veg, the chefs chop, boil, dress and hand you your plate. They were open, full of pride in what they were doing, they answered questions, made jokes and allowed themselves to be photographed. And it was amazing to be part of the process.
But in the end, it was the food that was magic.
Potato croquettes, crispy on the outside and silky creamy on the inside, flavoured with smoked butter. Oh, please tell me how to smoke butter?
Sardines don’t need much to achieve perfection and I think these guys agree because it was the simplest dish we had. The tiny fish, skin crisped by a small blowtorch and moist inside, dressed simply with butter and parsley. Simple. But perfect.
Roasted beetroot was dressed with citrusy orange, tangy malt and bold creamy miso.
Kimchi is a taste that I associate more with food in California (by way of Korea, of course) but I’m pleased to see it start to appear on menus here in England. Here it was served with delicate slices of haunch, blackened around the edges but pink on the inside with just a crumb of sea salt over it’s gorgeous folds. Best of all, the spice and tang of the fermented cabbage was tempered with a touch of Norbury blue cheese. Oh. dear. god – let’s do it all again.
The star of the evening was the chump, cooked sous vide was a texture never experienced and never to be forgotten. It was velvety and rich yet with a satisfying bite to it. Sliced and placed over a toss of yoghurt and flageolet beans, cooked to creamy perfect, it was sublime.
It’s not all perfect, an ill-judged frozen goat curd seemed more a concept than a sweet finish and left us wondering what exactly the concept was.
Still, it was most nearly perfect. Smoked, butter, chump sous vide, kimchi and blue cheese and a chance to be in the kitchen where this is all happening. Those who say this is the best thing that has happened to food in Brighton do not exaggerate.
Get yourself there.
64 degrees, 53 Meeting House Lane, Brighton