boti eats | cellar

Preston Road’s hidden gem, Cellar, has stepped away from set menus to create a whole new experience for Brighton’s food lovers. Aware of the rising cost of *literally* everything, solo chef (and server, bartender and music curator) Paul Smith’s vision is to make good food more accessible for the everyday person and their pockets. With the combination of cafeteria-style benches, nothing on the menu being over a tenner and his very own carefully curated 90s hip-hop playlist, it’s fair to say he is smashing it.

paul smith cellar brighton

First up, we tried the Vegan Kofta sharing plate, complete with kebab toppings and BBQ flatbread – what an opener. Made up of quinoa, lentils and chickpeas the kofta was bursting with herby textured goodness. Happily, it lagged the clagginess and carby-gluteny bloat (technical term) that sometimes come with other meat alternatives (*cough* seitan). And we can’t move on without giving a shout out to the humble flatbread. The plump, freshly warm-from-the-barbeque, charred-in-all-the-right-places flatbread. We salute you, underrated carb royalty.

Next up: the proper chips with 60-month aged Parmesan and summer truffle had us speechless. But that would make a boring review. Seriously though, someone take notes because we want these chips buried with us. Sometimes when you eat chips, it feels a million miles away from eating potatoes. It’s like you’re sitting there eating chips thinking, “oh yeah, this was once a potato….wild”. But eating these beauties, we had the potato’s whole life flash before our eyes and its whole life’s aim was to become this chip for us to enjoy. Conversation died down a little, there were a few closed eyes and we breathed in the moment. We all knew we were eating the best chips we will ever have. Not over-dramatic. At all. Ever.

We finished with the ice-cream sundae. We know what you’re thinking – but forget those buffet vibes with a serve-your-own ice-cream tub. No, no, no, this wasn’t just any ice-cream sundae, this was a MISO ice-cream sundae. Miso ice-cream with strawberries, tuiles and chocolate flakes. Ok, so let’s be real, we thought our tastebuds had broken at first. It took us a practice mouthful to catch on. But when we added in the strawberries, the flaky milk chocolate, and the crunch of the biscuit? Well, it felt like we were being let into the tastiest secret in town.

strawberry sundae cellar brighton

After all of that, we were belly-patting satisfied but the Cellar chef wasn’t quite finished yet. Not only did Paul take our orders, mix our drinks, cook and serve our food but he cleared away and washed the dishes, too. All in the same room. Imagine that! We would be flying around the room, breaking a few plates and screaming into the odd tea towel here and there. But Paul seemed relaxed, flowing in and out of conversation and grinning so wide it looked like he felt lucky to be there.

The low lighting, edgy music and mouth-watering food on the regularly changing menu makes Cellar the perfect venue for some romantic vibes or a catch-up with a few old friends. Get booking, though, because it’s only sticking around ’til September.

It’s open Thursdays and Fridays for staggered 90-minute slots at 7pm, 8.30pm or 9pm to keep that chilled-out, living-room vibe, or you can just pop in to enjoy some of their expertly crafted cocktails (we rate the cherry tang of their Manhattan) in the bijoux sun trap of a garden from 7pm on a Thursday or Friday.

Leave your heels at home and enjoy some inventive fine-dining that your wallet won’t regret in the morning. (And don’t forget to order the chips!)

by Jessie Brown

Cellar Brighton, 50 Preston Road, Brighton BN1 4QE (you’ll find it below The Set restaurant at Cafe Rust)