Restaurant Review: The Set

Indulge in some culinary experimentation in the fitting surroundings of Brighton’s Artist Residence hotel

You know you’ve found a great place when the main thing you remember from your night out is laughing. And that’s saying something when it’s also the same night you tried miso marshmallows and cereal-infused dehydrated milk ice cream for the first time.

The owners of The Set have gone all-out to bring you a genuinely different dining experience, delivered in a laid-back place that looks like the setting of the kind of house parties you don’t get invited to. And it really works.

The location is Regency Square, opposite the West Pier, where the restaurant lives within the Artist Residence hotel. It shares the floor with The Set of Scales, a more casual seafood restaurant, and the self-explanatory Cocktail Shack. Although it is small (just 22 seats), the restaurant has the atmosphere of a good time and the eclectic music, from DJ shadow to Hendrix, helps the conversation and laughs flow as freely as the drinks.

It looks great – modern industrial with exposed brickwork and corrugated metal. You’ll be seated at tile-topped tables with coffee-bag cushions, or you can sit directly on the pass if you want a bit of theatre with your food.

You order from three set menus, thus “The Set”, and immediately you’ll realise that you’ve never been anywhere quite like this. For example, it’s hard to know whether to choose the mullet with salsify, oats and beer, because then you’ll miss out on the venison with mac ’n’ cheese. And if you’re already the kind of person who gets flustered deciding between the burger or the steak… well, live a little.

Inspired to be different, I went for the vegetarian option; any meal that starts with smoked cheese, pecans and ash and ends with a Malteser mousse with banana and malt has to be tried. Also, if you want to push the boat out a little you can add a flight of wines for just £25, and have a small glass of wine matched to each dish. Definitely do this.

Before heading down I checked out the website, where the first thing you’re presented with is an image of a bubbling beaker. This really sets the scene for the food: experimental, unique, but most importantly delicious. It’s genuinely hard to describe the meals because it’s a new experience, and that’s what I love about this place as a date location. You can’t help but have a fun time trying each other’s out-there combinations, and the food is a total conversation piece. I did lose my partner at one point though: while she was eating the cereal-infused dehydrated milk ice cream, her mind was far away, back at university, when cereal was a meal suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner and those precious last mouthfuls at the bottom of the bowl would ultimately lead to a second helping.

We laughed and chatted a lot, enjoying something really unusual in a stylish, easy-going place – exactly what a night out in Brighton should be.

www.thesetrestaurant.com

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