The Coal Shed in Brighton is near the Lanes area of the town, not far from the seafront, which is a good start when you sell seafood. They focus their menu on quality steaks and things from the sea; a self proclaimed “gourmet steak and seafood restaurant” on the back of some pretty good reviews and press they had received in the past.
Unfortunately, this will not be one of them….
We had a rather jolly start to our evening in Brighton with some excellent cocktails at BYOC nearby (which I’ll write about) and whet our appetite before getting stuck into some meat and fish from a simple, strong looking menu. A good steak house should offer various cuts in a few sizes which will be cooked to perfection each and every time. It’s common in very good steak houses to just get a steak with no sides, yep, zero, just a lump of cooked meat. Sounds rather inviting I hear you say, well it is, but it has to be cock on and taste divine.
The Hawksmore and Gaucho do this and by the time you have ordered your favourite sides and sauces you need a mortgage to pay the bill. Anyhow, back to The Coal Shed. They had freshly caught fish on the specials and large sharing cuts of cow on a black board which were rapidly getting struck off by hungry customers; Porter House and Chateaubriand from around 700gr to 900 gr, each sold by weight. Every punter looked as though they were having a cracking time and the odd view cast from table to table with obvious food envy comments being whispered.
Oh, I forgot to mention they also have a josper which they cook their meat and fish in, this is great news. The rave reviews, great looking menu and of course our mate Josper, should be the perfect set up for a great meal. Don’t forget the self proclaimed statement too, that is ballsy and I like ballsy.
I decided rather than put myself into meat coma, a state I often subject myself to, I would have something from the sea and then some cow.
Starter – Slow cooked octopus, roasted red pepper, polenta and chorizo
For a dish that is labeled octopus, I would have expected more than the one tiny tentacle you can see above, this was it, no more octopus. It was cooked well, there was just not enough to even start enjoying it. The chorizo was far too strong, that is all you could taste, soft well cooked something that had chorizo flavouring. Looks great, but was very poor indeed.
I don’t see how a chef could actually send this out thinking it’s ok? Bearing in mind its an octopus dish. It was very stingy indeed. To give it some credit, the polenta was very good, I don’t like polenta that much, but this was very good and I’m now a convert, if it could be like this every time.
Starter – Beef short rib
I ate half some of someone else’s which is a bit mean of me considering this was not enough even for a starter, again a very stingy portion. Beef rib is one of the cheapest cuts on the market, cooked low and slow is one of the best things you can eat. The beef melted as soon as it was in your mouth and the super rich deep flavour made the tiny ‘Borowers‘ portion even more torturous. We all wanted more of this. Miss Hungry even licked the plate it was that good.
Main – Rib eye steak
I asked for it medium rare and this how I was given it. However, one person we were with had to send his back twice, as first time was cooked to oblivion and the second time it had just flirted with some flames.
I happily tucked into mine and it tasted oh so good. I asked for the king of steak sauces, in my opinion of course; Chimichurri.
I know a thing or two about chimichurri. My following rant is fully justified. More so I discussed this with a chap who spends a great deal of time in Argentina with his extended family, he acted as sound counsel for what you are about to read, as I needed to make sure I wasn’t being a complete arse: What you see above is NOT chimichurri in any way shape or form. It was some parsley with some oil that was warm and tasteless. It’s the worst steak dressing / sauce I’ve EVER TASTED. (I also don’t like to use capital letters, this is a rare occasion when I can justify the use of them)
Chimichurri should pack a punch of garlic, a sharp vinegar hit and all that let down by some good oil and oregano and /or parsley, salt and pepper and hopefully some chilli. These are the foundations of a chimichurri and of course can alter to your own taste. I’d like to use a few naughty words to highlight my disappointment, but my Mum reads this so I’ll hold back. What takes the biscuit is that they were happy to take one of my hard earned pounds in exchange for this.
Side – Onion rings
Hungryman shield awards
Six out of ten
Six may seem a bit mean, but I’m sorry this is what happened the evening I was there. This place has massive potential to be a top notch steak house, but not when you charge a premium for tiny starters and make fundamental errors with your condiments and took you three times to cook a steak and it still wasn’t right. Though that was not mine and I was happy, it’s still part of the experience.
I would have given this an 8 if the Chimi.. I’ll stop there, if the green stuff wasn’t falsely advertised and the starters were a sensible size.
I would go back and I do want to go back as enjoyed myself and I hope, I hope oh so much that if they are doing octopus again I can have more than one tentacle, maybe three or four.
I’ll be back as Arnie says….
Tags: beef, Brighton, Restaurants, steak, Steak house