Restaurant Review: 24 St Georges
From time to time, if you’re lucky, you’ll be served a plate of food that reminds you why you should be excited to be eating out. Within a taste of the starter of hay-smoked beetroot and apple tortellini at 24 St Georges in Brighton, I knew I was experiencing something far above the ordinary.
Removed from the rush and cramp of Brighton’s centre, head chef Dean Heselden and business partner Jamie Everton-Jones have created an exceptionally high standard of European fine dining in the heart of Kemptown. Well regarded both locally and nationally, 24 St Georges was a runner-up in the 2014 Observer Food Monthly Awards and is a recipient of two AA Rosettes, so allow your expectations to be high.
The dining area is a sophisticated and intimate space, with high ceilings and period features. We were lucky enough to get seats in the bay windows and were talked through the current menu. The dishes change frequently, with ingredients and compositions varying to reflect the seasons. There is a tasting menu that needs to be booked in advance, and a very reasonable menu du jour served Tuesday to Thursday. We went for the à la carte menu, where there wasn’t a dish I wouldn’t happily have ordered. Sometimes difficult decisions need to be made, though, and within a second of choosing, the restaurant’s dedicated sommelier was guiding us through the comprehensive wine list. Apparently our mains were among the hardest to match, but there was a vintage Cabernet Franc just opened for tasting and currently not on the menu that she said would be perfect; well, you’re not going to say no, are you?
To begin, we were treated to an amuse-bouche, a velouté described as a mushroom cappuccino, served with a selection of earthy and delicate walnut- and rosemary-filled breads. Anticipations and appetites were successfully raised.
The starters that followed were just fantastic, with the tortellini being a highlight and highly recommended. After savouring this, I realised something else that sets 24 St Georges apart from so many Brighton restaurants: space. In a city famed for a lack of it, where dining floors are often awkwardly carved into Victorian town houses and designed to maximise covers per night over comfort and intimacy, 24 St Georges has taken a different approach. The food, and creating an atmosphere in which to appreciate it, unhurried, is at the centre.
Following a palate-cleansing mojito sorbet, our waiter Alex presented our mains. The service was faultless. Alex was attentive and informative, and presented our courses with a confidence and accent that could have made a bus ticket sound utterly enticing, let alone an assiette of winter birds (guinea fowl, pigeon and wild mallard) with confit potatoes, root vegetables and bread sauce. The dish itself was so impressive, from the presentation to the balance of flavours, that it left me seriously questioning whether everything I’d previously been sold as guinea fowl actually was guinea fowl, or whether I was just appreciating another level of cooking. Pretty sure it was the latter.
By this point it seemed safe to say that 24 St Georges is definitely one of the best restaurants in the area. It’s certainly a romantic spot, and would be particularly ideal to celebrate two foodies who have found each other.
To finish, the desserts were in keeping with the theme: delicious local ingredients wonderfully prepared. As it was a weeknight we fought back the temptation to end with a cocktail or one of a selection of liqueur coffees, but then we both knew there would be a next time.