Between 2004 and 2011 When Due South originally graced Arch 139 at the old fisherman’s arches I was probably spending my time in far less sophisticated places in Brighton, my lifestyle and dubious life decisions were such that my budget did not allow me to really care where my food was sourced from, or even what ingredients were used. Therefore I have to admit I never visited the original Due South, which was renowned for being ahead of its time for the team’s fanatical sourcing of local, wild, and seasonal produce from ethical farms and suppliers, to produce delicious plates of food uncompromising in creativity or flavour.
Fast forward to 2022, I have swapped my hedonistic lifestyle for one that very much involves enjoying fine dining in all the wonderful establishments Brighton has to offer, and the world (myself included) has woken up to the impact our diets have on the environment, as well as the benefits of sourcing food ethically and locally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Also, with the same ethos, after a ten year hiatus, Due South has opened once more with head chef and owner Mark Wadsworth cooking everything over wood, smoke, and open fire, working with independent and small suppliers from Sussex farms and along the South coast. Mark’s impressive resume’ boasts staging at the two Michelin starred Latymer restaurant in Surrey as well as the Ginger Pig and a whole host of renowned restaurants in Sussex before landing the Head Chef role at Riddle and Finns, so with already high expectations, and armed as ever with an all-encompassing appetite, we ventured our way onto Brighton beach to finally get to experience one of Brighton’s legendary culinary institutions.
We are greeted by every member of staff we passed as we a shown to the best seats in the house by the upstairs window with a great view of the waves crashing onto the shore as it blew a gale outside. First impressions count, and it is immediately obvious the team are well-versed in the fine art of customer service, which is apparent with the warm welcome we receive, on what I already think may be our first of many visits.
Our waitress Claire comes across both professional and personable and dedicates time to take us through the menu, which has recently changed to a focus on small-plate style dining experience, rather than the traditional a la carte, in order to really showcase the exciting and innovative plates of food Mark and his team have come up with. The choices all look incredible, so much so that deciding what to have is agonising! Thankfully Claire is all too happy to help us with our decision making with some recommendations which we are happy to go with. The wine list is equally as impressive, both rousing and extensive, displaying specially selected wines from local vineyards and across Europe. Relaxing with our wine, enjoying the lovely atmosphere and the cracking view, it seems like no time at all before our plates begin to arrive.
First out are our “cold and raw” plates, sea bream with green nam Jim and nasturtium salad, and steak tartare with truffle mayo and shaved hazelnuts. Both Exceptionally well presented, the Bream especially displaying a vibrant pallet of colours and incredibly tasty to boot, the light dreamy fresh morsels of this fine fish, with contrasting textures and tangs from the delicate leaves and spicy green chilli coating all creating an glorious and dazzling array of flavours. The Steak Tartare, though not quite as pretty, tasted divine, I expected the bold flavours of the truffle and hazelnut to overpower the meat, but it was so smooth it complimented and even exaggerated the essence of the main attraction.
Next to arrive some Wood-Fired Sourdough topped with smoked egg yolk, crispy onion and truffle oil which was just heavenly! Gorgeous light and puffed bread with a perfectly formed yolk perched and ready to be burst so the delicious goo spreads and mixes with the onion and rich truffle. This was so good my companion and I were almost fighting over it whenever the other tore a piece off.
Our final plates arrived fresh from the charcoal grill along with a side of smoked pink fir potatoes drenched in confit garlic and rosemary butter that did well not to overpower the ethereal nuttiness of this classic British spud.
Grilled wild mushrooms with confit egg yolk, toasted sesame and teriyaki were a delight, brimming with a lovely contrasting mix of punchy Japanese flavours, that are tamed by the runny yolk when cracked to bring the flavours of the cornucopia of earthy shrooms to the forefront.
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved my companions choice of Grilled cod with an almond and sesame crust served with broccoli and lemon butter. I have nothing against cod really, I just struggle to get excited about it when I see it on a menu. However I could not help but marvel at how the delicate fish flaked at the mere touch of my fork, and how the inspired mix of almond, sesame and lemon combined really highlighted the sweet delicate flavour of the meat.
The dish that topped it all for me was the flamed celeriac topped with cavalo nero, truffle and twineham grange cheese. The celeriac itself was incredibly rich in flavour and succulent, cooked to perfection, the cavalo nero grounding it even more so. The truffle subtly enhancing the meaty essence of the celeriac and the hard cheese giving it a slightly sweet finish. Incredible.
Although sorely tempted to order more from the menu we decided to save some room for dessert, and boy am I glad we did. The dark chocolate mousse was an masterpiece in dessert making. Every mouthful an adventure. A giant dusted crisp wafer hid the lightest creamiest intensely flavoured mousse imaginable, scattered with candied hazelnuts, mini marshmallow’s, bathing in a puddle of salted caramel with a refreshing strawberry sorbet slowly melting into the mix. There was so much going on with flavours, textures and temperatures we did not want it to end!
Last but not least the Rhubarb and Rose Doughnut, so full of jam it looked like it was going to explode, with a crunchy sweet crust and a delightful warm gooey slightly sour centre, washed down with an espresso. A perfect satisfying end to the evening.
Due South is quite simply perfection. Every plate of food consistently excellent, with a huge variety of flavours and textures with a great deal of thought going into the presentation and composition of the dishes. Their unwavering commitment sustainability through sourcing the very best local ingredients is commendable, and the move to the more popular small-plate style dining so the customer can get to experience more of what this exceptional restaurant has to offer is inspired. With the menu constantly changing I cannot wait to see what they come up with next!