boti eats | carne
There’s a real buzz around Carne, the latest addition to the fine selection of eateries on Hove’s Church Road.
True to its name, Carne boasts a menu bursting with high-welfare meats and sustainable south coast fish. The formidable pairing of Hove-based chef Phil Bartley, already well known for his success at the Brighton Metropole and GB Charcuterie, and Steve Pineau of Atelier Du Vin, hints at the calibre of what’s in store here. The use of high-quality, locally sourced ingredients alongside carefully curated wine pairings are at the core of Carne’s ethos. Tantalised by what we’d heard, we went to find out what an evening at Carne had up its sleeve…
After a warm greeting by front-of-house staff, we’re welcomed into the smart restaurant and shown to a cosy table for two. It’s a Thursday evening and the restaurant is fairly quiet which suits us fine. The décor is sleek and traditional with a sophisticated but laid-back atmosphere. There’s a cosy lounge area towards the back by a cocktail bar, perfect for kicking back whilst enjoying nibbles and drinks. We settle in feeling relaxed, welcomed and eager to taste whatever comes next.
We order cocktails and a serving of cripsy pork quaver to tide us over while we mull over the menu. We order the Corpse Reviver No. 2 (gin, Lillet blanc and Cointreau) which is served in a delicate glass with a sliver of lemon zest. It’s delicious. Light, refreshing and incredibly moreish. We polish off the cocktails and pork quaver (served with burnt apple and pictured below) in no time. Appetite officially whetted, we are ready for the starters.
We opted for the truffle-baked brie with truffle honey and toasts, which feels a bit like a fancy fondue. The brie is warm and creamy without being overwhelming. Our dining companion orders the scallops, which come with burnt apple and black pudding. The saltiness of the black pudding pairs perfectly with the sharp apple and buttery scallops.
Ahead of our main, the sommelier comes over to give us some guidance on the best wine pairings for our meal. Not only is this chap extremely knowledgeable, but he’s also got a huge, friendly smile. After much discussion, we agree a full-bodied red will complement our chosen dishes perfectly.
We both want to try a steak as our main so we opt for a shared Chateaubriand (450g) with a selection of sides. We’re pre-warned when we order this dish that it will take around 40 minutes to prepare, but we’re in no hurry. When it arrives, it’s served pre-sliced in a hot dish and we’re offered a choice of sauces to go with it – we opt for the béarnaise and peppercorn. We also select dripping chips, honey-glazed carrots and broccoli with almonds as our sides. Our little table is suddenly bursting with colour. The steak is cooked medium rare and it really is melt-in-your-mouth delicious with just a hint of seasoned smokiness. Yes, it’s indulgent and it tastes so very good.
We take a bit of time to digest our steaks before moving on to the desserts. We don’t feel remotely pressured to hurry and we’re really enjoying the friendly atmosphere. Ready for something sweet to round the evening off, we order the custard and rhubarb slice and a sticky date pudding. The custard slice is rich and creamy with a crisp pastry base. We’re big fans of anything custard based and love this twist on a traditional custard tart with the sharp rhubarb packing a sneaky, zesty punch. Our dining mate devoured the sticky date pudding before we could even get a look in, so we’re assuming that was pretty good too!
Carne is a warm and welcoming restaurant with quality food and wine at its heart. There’s no pretentiousness, it’s quite simply about good service and outstanding food. We enjoyed every course, every dish, every sip. And the fact that Carne places such a strong focus on welfare, sustainability and local sourcing makes us want to sing their praises from the rooftops. This is how it’s done. Well done, Carne – you nailed it.
By Zoe Holland