BOTI Eats | Embers Sunday roast

With an open wood fire roaring in the centrepiece kitchen, entering Embers feels rather like entering an impressive film set.

The cosy Lanes eatery is decked out in moody shades of charcoal with chunky wooden tables, while part-charred wooden circles adorn the walls, reinforcing the image of the embers formed by burning wood. Speaking of those embers that give the restaurant its name, head chef Dave Marrow fires up his fire cage a full six hours ahead of opening time. By midday, the smouldering wood is ready to give the dishes their deliciously distinctive smoky edge.

The joint venture between Marrow and Isaac Bartlett-Copeland uses a fire cage for all the cooking, completely eschewing gas and electricity. The restaurant opened to great acclaim almost a year ago, then scored a spot in the Michelin Guide and, most recently, introduced Sunday roasts. Needless to say, we leapt at the chance to go and check them out…

Fire cage

The ambiance

We arrived to a warm welcome from bar manager, Lyndon, and Ellie, our waitress, who showed us to our table in the buzzy restaurant. There’s always something rather special about a live wood fire and it was a treat to watch it blazing in the open kitchen, filling the room with the aroma of freshly cooked meat while keeping it warm and cosy.

Dave marrow and Isaac Bartlett-Copeland

The drinks

We decided to skip the wine and go straight for a cocktail – the Cherry-on-top. A mix of Disaronno, bitters and maraschino cherries, Lyndon crafted the perfect drink – not too sweet and with a perfect flavour balance. After extensively scanning the menu and discovering we wanted to try everything, we finally went for the Three Beast Feast and the smoked whole chicken. Unlike your traditional individually served Sunday roast, Embers serve theirs as a sharing platter. But fear not, the portion sizes are massive and you won’t regret having to share.

Cherry cocktail at embers

The main event

The Three Beast Feast features baked pork loin, Sussex beef rump and smoked lamb and mint sausage – all of it freshly cooked over those embers! Dave takes the meats directly from the top of the embers and slices them in the open kitchen. For any meat lovers out there, it’s an impressive sight to behold. The pork loin, served with fresh apple sauce and scratchings, was soft and juicy, but the delicate slices of beef rump, topped with horseradish cream, won the day as they were positively dripping with juice and flavour. Even better: the succulent meat juices spread across the platter, resulting in an umami flavour bomb. The lamb sausages were good too, although if we were being really picky, we would have liked a little more char on them to enhance their smoky flavour. And the chicken? Beautifully smoked and falling-off-the-bone tender.

Sunday roast at embers

We did lose our minds a little bit when we first saw all the meat, but the charred hispi cabbage and addictive sage-and-onion-crumb-topped broccoli soon reset our neurons. These are served as sides with all the Sunday roast platters and, if the veggie sides are mind-blowing (they are), we can only imagine how good a vegan roast would be. The requisite roast potatoes and roasted carrots were in healthy evidence, too, and both were smoky and perfectly charred. Bringing it all together was a delectably creamy cauliflower cheese purée. And let’s not forget the thick flavour-packed gravy. Yes, you get a whole jug, so you never run out.

Embers humbug

To finish

Needless to say, we were pretty full by this point, but we couldn’t resist having a peek at the dessert menu when Ellie brought it round. We ordered a Humbug to share and a salted caramel espresso martini to head off the food coma. A unique twist on the traditional childhood sweet, the Humbug consisted of toffee ice-cream, surrounded by honeycomb candy crumb on a bed of creamy made-in-house celeriac fudge. Topped with a dollop of mint oil, the Humbug completely changed our perception of that particular ingredient. We’d never been a fan of mint before, but it’s fair to say, it’s won us over. At once refreshing and creamy, the Humbug was a wonderful explosion of bold flavours. Special mention goes to Lyndon, too, who crafted a beautiful martini for us despite the restaurant being busy – the salted caramel flavour really stood out and it was just the right note to end our meal.

Embers martini

The last word

The passion driving the team at Embers is evident: everything was brilliantly executed – flavour-packed food and superb cocktails, all delivered with warm and efficient service. Our only quibble would perhaps be the lack of vegetarian and vegan roast options – a baked onion was the only choice. But with such an innovative team at the helm and cooking this good, we can’t imagine it will be long before further additions are made to the menu. We will be back!

Sunday roasts are available every Sunday from midday – 7pm; platters from £20 per person; dogs allowed
42 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, BN1 1HB