Tuesday, 17 January 2012

In Vino Veritas, Brighton

Rating: 2/10   Food: French (Sorry France) Cost: £55 (cost per head - NYE tasting menu)
103 North Road, Brighton BN1 1YW invinobrighton.co.uk

It's because of restaurants like this that there's so many bloody food blogs out there. It's the old adage; "If you have a great meal, you tell three people and if you have a terrible one, you tell ten". Or words to that effect. After eating here I wasn't happy telling ten, I wanted as many people as possible to know how bad this meal was. And friends, family and strangers on the bus, just weren't enough.

We knew we were in trouble as soon as we entered the dining room. It was New Years Eve and at 8.45pm we were only the second table to be seated. And as the evening progressed, only one more table joined the celebrations. The locals are clearly wise to the standard of food in this joint with only the out-of-towners being suckered-in.

In our defence, the lady and myself had done New Year's here a couple of years ago and had a great night; bustly atmosphere, decent food and good service. Based on this previous, some friends were obviously happy to join us.

Let's get to the food. The amuse-bouche was a tray of fridge-cold, slightly damp tasting biscuits with some nondescript meatish toppings.

Next up the foie gras and prune terrine with porto jelly and toasted brioche. Never in my life have I tasted such a piss-poor specimen when it comes to foie gras. This bland, tastless little excuse was accompanied by two tiny, thin slices of toasted brioche. So thin, that they virtually burst into a cloud of crumbs when encountered with a knife.
Now the cassolette of salmon, cod and mussels with a julienne of vegetable and lemon grass broth. Overcooked salmon and barely cooked mussles about sum it up. The actual broth wasn't terrible. And the tragedy is that this may have actually been the culinary highlight. Seriously.

Now the fact is we haven't complained yet. So we kind of deserve what we're getting. I genuinely believe if you're not prepared to stand up for yourself and send food back, you deserve to be sodomised by the entire kitchen brigade. As such, I'm usually happy to volunteer my opinion if the food's not up to scratch, but being New Year—and out of some sort of misplaced sense of not wanting to cause a fuss—I'd kept my mouth shut thus-far.

Then the main course arrives. Pan fried venison, mulled pear, pont-neuf potatoes, red wine and cinnamon braised cabbage. That a mighty beast may have actually sacrificed its life for this meal is a tragedy. I have no idea what cut this was; the over-cooked, grissly slab of protein in front of me bore only a passing resemblence to any venison I've had before. It didn't help that it was coated in a sickly-sweet effluent. Special mention has to go to the pont-neuf potatoes. They managed to be under-cooked, pasty-looking and burned at the same time.

At this point we had to say something. I spoke to the manager, pointed out that the food was terrible and accepted we had eaten some of it and should pay something. However, being 11pm on New Year's Eve—instead of storming off into the night to squeeze into an alternative venue—we accepted his offer of a discount, endured the dessert and then focussed our collective will on getting through as much prosecco and wine as possible.

The service? Passable. But the company - the Ginger and H - and a lot of alcohol salvaged what could have been a pretty miserable evening. And that was how we seen in the New Year: eating food bad enough to make you want to write a blog.

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