Sussex Via Soho: Get Ready For Squirrel Tortellini And Mushroom Eclairs At This New Frith Street Restaurant
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If we had one criticism of the other Gladwin Brothers restaurants, it'd be that they're so neighbourhoody — and not in our neighbourhood. Notting Hill, Chelsea, Battersea: all postcodes that take effort to get to.
Shame, because Notting Hill's The Shed, for one, is pretty lovely. We want their farm-to-fork barsnacks — hearty but thoughtful, delicate but rich: think crab sausage rolls and game macarons — a lot more regularly than we find ourselves passing through W8 with a sausage-roll-shaped hole in our schedule. But ever has it been thus, a classic toxic relationship MO where the Gladwin Brothers just keep on reeling us back in for more while they remain, ultimately, distant.
Till now. That they've chosen Soho for their newest restaurant answers a whole lot of prayers, if your praying covers good pickles, flinty Sussex wine, game pastries and a daily mallard/beef/venison/you-name-it Wellington.
In a similar mould to The Shed, Sussex is small(ish), woodclad, buzzy, and extremely about seasonal game and local seafood. It oozes warmth, glows a little bit with candlelight. It has a cheeseboard that is not, actually, a board and is, actually, an enormous wooden island in the centre of the room stacked high with the good stuff. Okay, Sussex, let's run away together.
We ate a lot. Like, plenty for four people, and there were only two of us. But that still left entire reaches of the menu that we couldn't physically handle, and they're probably going to disappear by the time we're next at Sussex because a Gladwin Brothers menu is always seasonal to the hilt. Partridge saltimbocca. Hare ragu. Lardo and chard. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak and full of tartare.
Anybody with the time, means, and an interest in perfect steak should get there while their twist on tartare's still on the menu: raw Sussex beef, richened with bone marrow, double-richened with fig, and quail's egg, cheddar and blobs of mysterious umami relish.
It's hard to narrow down a star dish from our visit, though: this menu's riddled with heroes. Squirrel tortellini might be the one, chewy, slightly elastic pasta, rich, gamey centre. But there's a fallow deer/chestnut/chocolate/dandelion dish that's the closest you'll ever get to being a Tudor monarch at a midwinter feast. And all paths through Sussex should lead you via the mushroom Marmite mini-eclairs, because they're light, rich, puffy, creamy, earthy and vinegary at the same time; a feat of engineering you'll need minimum two eclairs to get your head round, so order in abundance.
Prices are okay-ish by Soho bistro standards. It's better than just okay when you factor in the halo of contentment that food this lovingly-sourced, this lovingly-prepped casts over your evening.
Sussex, 63-64 Frith Street, W1D 3JW.
Last Updated 06 December 2019