64 Degrees, restaurant review: Small plates, big ideas at Michael Bremner's Brighton venture

64 Degrees, 53 Meeting House Lane, Brighton Tel: 01273 770 115

I'm thinking of rebranding my kitchen table. The wonky Bargain Corner number will be replaced with a counter at which guests (my husband and teenage children) can sit and watch me make their dinner. It won't include putting a microherb garnish on top of a cumin-infused cube of monkfish, but apart from that…

Visible chefs have been with us for an age, of course, but with the grumbling about Chiltern Firehouse's kitchen-facing counter (is it the hot seat or social Siberia?) and speculation about the Duchess of Cambridge's two kitchens, chefs' tables are back on the, er, table.

Anyway. At 64 Degrees in Brighton, chef/owner Michael Bremner's team is at the centre, as the kitchen is a large percentage of the space. It's a sliver of a place, open since October, tucked away in the Lanes and as different as can be from the tourist traps and discount-beer man-caves around it.

That's not to say it's entirely comfortable. You can either perch on a stool at the counter, or on a wooden cube at one of the four small, rough-wood tables. Then there's the music, which is L-O-U-D. This might suit chef and the Brighton blowhards – many of whom are in this Tuesday night, bellowing about property deals and wearing sunglasses indoors – but I'm finding it difficult to concentrate.

The four-meat, four-fish, four-veg menu doesn't take long to read, to be fair. 64 Degrees wants to showcase the quality of its produce and the technical skill of its small team with its sharing-plate menu. We order six dishes, two from each section, to do just that.

First up, an amuse-bouche – a chicken heart in a potato spiral case with pomegranates. This sets a rather thrilling tone: the food here will be brave. Next, scallops with miso, lemon grass and land cress, which is splendid: plumped, burnished beauties slicked with an intense, savoury gloss. Sea bream with samphire, granola and parsley is no oil painting (someone describes it on Instagram as looking like a squashed chameleon) but it's full of flavour – muted samphire adds tang and an earthy granola with crushed pumpkin and sunflower seeds balances but doesn't nuke the fish.

We move on to veg. Firm asparagus with some moussey hollandaise and crushed hazelnuts is a bit scrappy, but I like this addition of nuts hither and thither. Then a "house egg, cucumber, goat's cheese", which, according to my notes, is "bogging". It is the least successful dish – I suppose the kitchen wanted to showcase how to deep-fry cucumber chunks (why?) and the slow-cooked egg is no worse than any other I've had of this slimy flavour-of-the-month, but there's a troubling oily/watery dampness to the plate.

A sidenote: we've had the same cutlery and plates throughout. And when Mr M placed his plate on a finished dish, the waitress carefully took it off and put back on the table, with its now-dirty base. This lackadaisical approach should be fixed, assuming it's not a one-off.

Yet all is redeemed by "meat". Out come very tender, faintly Asian discs of pork with crushed walnuts, pickled and baby carrots and sweet, smooth sweetcorn purée; walnut crumbs add texture. It looks adorable, all pastel shades, and is harmonious to eat, a chef's fine balancing act to allow the pork's delicate flavour through the bells and whistles.

Then comes the show stopper.

"Short rib, Yukon, shallot, greens". The brevity of the name is a sin. It's beef that has been lovingly attended to over many hours, mash that elevates the potato to hero status, an almost caramelised giant of a shallot with its sting softened by earlier braising, perhaps, and a tangle of shredded cabbage. The last of this is a tad dull, but it does suit the meat-and-two-vegness. I could have eaten just the scallops (£9.25) and this (£12.50) and been utterly satisfied.

A dotty "textures of chocolate" thing follows. There's a cup of hot chocolate with parfait wodge inside, a plate with crunchier crumbles, a dark-choc truffle cube and wobbly white-choc quenelle – all scintillating if you're eating sugar (I'm not). Mr M nibbles some of the nubbins but that's all.

Small plates, big ideas. Not all work, but the journey through 64 Degree's imagination is not unlike walking round the Lanes – worth it to discover some treasures. Stop press: just heard Bremner will open a second restaurant in London later this year…

8/10

64 Degrees, 53 Meeting House Lane, Brighton Tel: 01273 770 115. £80 for two, with drinks

Four more foodie notes from the week

MeatLiquor

New-menu tasting at burger paradise (tough job!). Terrific spicy lamb chops, bourbon onion snacks, boozy trifle and lots more.

Grange St Paul's

The IoS held a party at this venue and the canapés – sushi, wontons and more – were fantastic (not always true of hotel snacks).

Hawksmoor

It's not cheap, but the steak at the newest (Knightsbridge) branch is worth it. Plus, a generous, delicious crab salad.

Diana Henry

Devouring her new book, A Change of Appetite, full of summer inspiration – healthy definitely doesn't mean worthy.

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Sport
footballLive blog: Follow the action from the Capital One Cup semi-final
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Group Sales Manager - Field Based

    £21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...

    Guru Careers: Email Marketing Specialist

    £26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Tour Drivers - UK & European

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

    Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

    Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century