Table, Jubilee Square, Brighton, East Sussex

On paper, Brighton's Table looks like the perfect modern restaurant. Everything about it screams "like me!" – from the location, attached to a hip designer hotel in an acclaimed new development just behind the Royal Pavilion, to the pedigree: it's operated by the admirable Company of Cooks, who run top-notch catering outlets in London's Royal Parks and at cultural institutions including the Imperial War Museum and the Royal Opera House.

The menu – breakfast, lunch and dinner, naturally – from an ex-River Café chef, follows the contemporary orthodoxy of sourcing good, local produce, cooking it simply, and surrounding it with big, punchy flavours. The look of the place – designer canteen, with sweeping plate-glass frontage and tasteful mid-century modern furnishings – is so 2010 it looks like an architect's drawing, rather than an actual restaurant.

So why is it, on a blazing Brighton day, that this apparent paragon, which can accommodate 80 diners plus more on tables outside, is occupied by only four people when my friend and I arrive for a midweek lunch? And to rub salt into the wound, the surrounding area, which resembles a little piece of Canary Wharf beamed down in the North Laine, is full of the kind of inoffensive chain restaurants people come to Brighton to avoid – Las Iguanas, Yo Sushi, Pizza Express – all of them apparently doing good business.

It may be part of a group, but Table, despite its slightly bland appearance, feels bespoke, from its inlaid wooden tables to the servers keen to explain the provenance of that day's locally sourced ingredients.

Fish and seafood, from nearby Newhaven, are the central feature of the menu, and we built our lunch around them, starting with a shared bowl of devilled whitebait, served with shaved fennel, orange and red onion. A single sardine, chargrilled so that the soft, smoky flesh was exposed beneath the heat-blistered skin, came with rocket smartly dressed with peppery olive oil.

Only a smoked trout salad combining fridge-cold fish with equally chilly Jersey Royals and underpowered horseradish cream fell short; shame, since this was the dish our charming waiter recommended.

He responded with good humour when we identified a stowaway among the deep-fried violet artichokes which accompanied my chargrilled black bream. My friend Marina insisted the stray single whitebait was a playful joke on the part of the chef, a visual evocation of the pilot fish. No, the waiter confirmed, it had just got left in the deep-fat fryer.

Our only non-fishy dish was exactly the sort of food you want to eat in a heatwave – a Middle Eastern-inspired partnership of spatchcocked chicken, zippy harissa-flavoured yoghurt dressing and a veg-packed couscous which, unusually, not only tasted of something, but tasted actively fantastic.

Given that we were by now the only two customers in the place, it was unfortunate they began setting up for that evening's music event around us. It's hard to relax when men in overalls are unloading speakers and spotlights all around you. "A restaurant this good shouldn't have to diversify," Marina observed, over the grunts of the lighting engineers.

The monthly music events – the "children eat free" policy, the Sunday roasts, the set lunch of two courses and a drink for £12 – all mark out a restaurant that is doing everything it can to pull in the punters. If it were any more eager to please, they'd be offering foot massages and head rubs, though this being the new Brighton, they'd be more likely to come and redesign your website.

We ended with a deliriously good slice of chocolate nemesis. For the third time in as many restaurants, mini doughnuts appear on the menu; here a brace of them come with brandy-soaked cherries and yoghurt. Naughty, but nice.

With apéritifs – a couple of glasses of fizz from local producer Bolney Wine Estate and a glass each from the reasonably priced wine list – we paid around £40 a head before service. Marina insisted I had a look around the bar of the adjoining Myhotel before we left, and I could see why; this jaw-dropping lair is the equal, design-wise, of anything I've seen in London or New York. Could rackety old Brighton really be going all flash? It's certainly getting more corporate; my route back to the station took me through the North Laine, where a branch of Starbucks has recently opened, among the quirky little shops and cafés.

Perhaps the problem with Table is that it doesn't quite fit into one camp or the other; it's independent, but part of a hotel, and its sleek appearance gives it the feel of a concept that could be rolled out, like Canteen. The menu ticks all the foodie boxes, but unless it attracts the Carluccio's crowd, it isn't going to take off. And it would be a real shame, in a city that isn't over-endowed with brilliant places to eat, if a few more Brightonians didn't get their feet under the Table.

Table, Jubilee Square, Brighton, East Sussex (01273 900383)

Food 3 stars
Ambience 2 stars
Service 4 stars

Around £40 a head before service

Tipping policy: "No service charge. All tips go to the staff"

Side Orders: Brighton rocks

Terre a Terre

71 East Street (01273 729051)

Dishes like broad bean espresso with samphire, linseed leaf relish and asparagus soldiers epitomise the creative veggie cooking here.

Sam's of Brighton

1 Paston Place (01273 676222)

This new offshoot of Sevendials specialises in seasonal food: try the pan-fried salmon with new potatoes, asparagus and hollandaise.


12 Black Lion Street (01273 202403)

This outlet specialises in Vietnamese street food – try a bowl of delicious steaming rice noodle soup or one of the spicy and colourful salads.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
Tattoo enthusiast Cammy Stewart poses for a portrait during the Great British Tattoo Show
In picturesThe Great British Tattoo Show
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?