A Gastrobar to Galvanise a new kid on the Block.
In Brighton we are surrounded by an ever-increasing assortment of swanky wine bars, pubs with craft beers and an array of top notch restaurants fusing flavours from around the world. If you are ready for escapism and an exciting new experience then Block is for you!
This punk rock wine vibed venue is tearing down the preconceived ideas of a traditional wine bar. The subtle snobbery of wine does not exist when you walk through the doors of Block on St James Street. Formerly known as Neighbourhood, the owners wanted to evolve their passion and present a modern spin on wine and a salute to Spain, a place they love and have spent a great deal of time exploring.
Block is sexy, sophisticated and has a welcoming ambience that lures you in and stirs your senses. Every inch of Block indicates a creative flair and a desire to stand out from the crowd. It is chic, relaxed, inventive and exhilarating. Lush foliage decorates a feature wall and the exposed brick work provides a perfect backdrop for the mesmerising wine bottles adorned with skulls and naked ladies on roller skates. The vibe is an interpretation of a modern Spanish gastrobar where you can have a fantastic glass of wine, incredible food and then stay on as the music and the energy rises and the party starts! It’s a deliciously social place that is breaking the rules and making sophisticated wine accessible to everyone.
I was invited one sunny Friday afternoon for an introduction to the new wave of cultured wines available and to sample the new menu. Upon arriving at this uber cool venue, I was asked if I would prefer to dine at a table or sit at the bar. I opted for the bar as I wanted to study the bottles and chat to the team. There is also a huge garden perfect for alfresco dining or simply to sit and relax with a glass or two. From past experience, this sexy secret garden is also one of the best sun traps in this city!
I do enjoy a glass of Marlborough Sauvignon blanc, but when asked if I was up for a little wine tasting, images of sniffing, swirling and spitting filled my thoughts. However as it was explained to me everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy good wine in an unpretentious way. The old school ways do not have to be lost, but it’s time to make room for something new and encourage more people to enjoy the luxury of excellent wine.
The first thing I noticed was the description of the various wines all characterised in a simplified way from dark chocolate to forest fruits. It is easy to understand and choose – maybe not for the snooty wine connoisseurs, but certainly for us go-getters, jet-setters and thrill seekers as described on a rather delicious 2015 La La Land Malbec. The wine stems from the best regions around the world including Chronic Cellars in Paso Robles, California to ‘Some young Punks’ of Australia. These winemakers are hitting the scene with aggressive, punky labelling and lip smacking, sensually structured wines that rival the best in the world.
The overall philosophy & mission statement for Block is ‘A Civilised Cover Story for an Uncivilised Time’. This unique, enchanted venue is the template for a vibrant experience and I LOVE it!!
As I sat and sipped some truly special wines we enjoyed an accompaniment of ‘Manchego reserva cheese with honey truffle oil and a selection of cold meets and warm bread’. As the whole Block experience is about breaking barriers I agreed to try Block’s fresh from sea-to-table ‘Jersey Rock Oysters’. I cannot recall the last time I allowed an oyster to pass my lips, but with the finely chopped shallot vinaigrette or mignonette I was pleasantly surprised, so much so that I could not stop myself indulging in another. On Thursdays Block will be introducing a very trendy ‘Fizz and Rocks’ Day with Jersey Rocks for £1.50 each and a bottle of prosecco for a very reasonable £16
The afternoon seemed to fly by, but as they say, time does fly when you’re having fun and my afternoon was certainly full of fun and frivolity. I asked our host to select his favourite items from the menu to give me an overall view of Block’s taste and style. ‘Blacked Octopus and Scallops in a Pinot Noir’ followed as our starters and then for our main we shared the ’28 Day Matured Flat Iron Steak’ and the piece de resistance or, el mejor if we are keeping to the Spanish theme; perfectly cooked ‘Sea-bass with squash & sage polenta, kale pesto’ and a glass of crisp Chablis. This dish was delightful and an example of culinary artistry.
The whole menu at Block goes through their Spanish inspired charcoal and wood burning Bertha oven which I was told is the first of its kind here in Brighton. The Sussex crossed meat is sourced from Redlands Farm and all other ingredients are the finest, freshest and most flavoursome including cheese from the infamous ‘Cheeseman of Brighton’.
Block opened it’s doors earlier this year and it has not taken long to generate praise for its luxe surrounding, impeccable service and knock out menu. There is a certain buzz in the air that surrounds Block. It is refreshing and on point and bridges the gap between pretentious wine bar and gastropub. It sits perfectly in the middle offering a spectacular and contemporary concept, harder, louder and perfectly avant-grade encapsulating a certain elegance and sophistication.
Block is unique and this new kid is going to dominate for the summer ahead!