Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Warning: Blog post contains delicious content, proceed with cutlery

We once again hand over the reigns to our guest blogger, James Sharp...

Now you've been given some time to get over my shameful confession posted here earlier this week, I feel like it’s time to tell you how I went about rectifying this. 

Well, there’s a first time for everything, so after having procured the suit from the fine gentlemen at Gresham Blake (which you can read about here) Charlotte and I popped on down to The Coal Shed in Boyce’s Street to strike off another thing from my bucket list. 

After arriving promptly at 6pm, having our coats taken and being seated, Charlotte and I had a chance to study the décor as well as the menus handed to us. It becomes obvious that The Coal Shed naturally does a lot of things ‘right’. What they do right is hard to explain, and most likely part of the charm that keeps people coming back, but I’ll give it a go. 

First through the door, the Coal Shed awaits...
For starters, (intended) the décor is comfortable and inviting. The lighting is warm and cosy, which I found relaxing, and the staff emulated this in their professional yet friendly attitudes. Sophie, who looked after us all evening, was not only polite, friendly and warm, but also knowledgeable about the menus and only happy to offer suggestions. This proved to be quite eerie when three of her suggestions were matched with what Charlotte had intended to choose. (I still believe to this day they set me up, and some descendant of Jeremy Beadle was going to bust out of the kitchen at any moment.)

The service went above and beyond still, because from what I can ascertain they had something you never appreciate until it happens. Timing. The menus and suggestions and jokes weren't forced and didn't drone on. The courses were prepared, served and slid onto the tables with practised hands. (I actually thought the tables were too small, I was wrong there as well!) Recommendations were brief and to the point, requests were handled efficiently and best of all, there were no sudden interruptions with ‘How is your meal?’ while you have the first forkful poised three inches from your lips. 

By now you’d have thought I’d be on to the food. But guess what: nope. See, the food is only a part of it, and you’re naturally going to expect it to taste amazing, but without the concerted efforts between the front of house staff, the kitchens and everyone in between, it simply wouldn't work. It was amazing to watch and be a part of, because unless you’re actively looking out for it, you never even notice it. You’re left with your company to enjoy your evening and that adds so much more to the experience, with both the food and the company! 
The salmon
Jacob's Ladder (Does not contain an actual ladder)
Onto the food we go. For starters, Charlotte had the Jacob’s Ladder while I opted for the slow-roasted salmon. I was offered some of the Ladder to try, but as I was saving my first steak experience for the actual steak, I politely declined. Every man is aware of those food ‘offers’ from friends, and while Charlotte did generously offer, she devoured the whole thing at about Mach three when I opted out. Except the bone it came on. My salmon was neatly arranged with bok choi, truffle and miso créme fraiche. I've never been one of these food experts, talking about how the flavours compliment each other to provide a culmination of oral fantasia, but oh my god. If I were the chef who prepared that dish, I’d be strutting around the kitchen like some sort of herculean god, high-fiving everyone within distance to assert my truffly dominance. It was about this time during the evening I realised I became fat on the wrong foods. A galling moment of realisation that was. Sadface.
No description necessary. Just look at it.
Our main course however, was what I was waiting for. With more guidance from Sophie, we opted for a sharing steak. That’s right. 700g of prime rib, medium rare steak graced the table with a small selection of sides. Placed between us, the steak had been thickly sliced and presented in a way it seemed to say ‘please eat me’. I then told Charlotte to leave and that if she had any urgent business or something else to attend to I would forgive her. 

She told me no. 

Neither of us spoke much during the next thirty minutes it took to tear into that steak. Look at the picture, then back to me. If that doesn't look like the tastiest piece of meat you've ever laid your eyes upon, then I'm telling you: It is and was! The problem with having a steak so good is that now picking up some cut from a supermarket meat counter holds no appeal… I want it like this all the time. (I kinda want another one as I'm writing this, to be honest.) 
The area to the right of the table is for your meal enhancers
The sides: A roasted garlic bulb, beef dipped chips and seasonal vegetables went with the chimichurri sauce and the garlic and herb butter for added flavour and choice. Regardless of your tastes there are sides and options for pretty much anyone, so letting you pick and choose how you compliment your steak is a neat touch. I think we both went a tiny bit overboard, but I wanted to have a serious reason to eat as much as possible and was not disappointed. We enjoyed our meal with a bottle of Australian Red, which complimented the steak well and there was water readily available to cleanse your palate should needs be! Sadly, there was no room for dessert. 
The petals give you 100% of your recommended daily flower
But after a few minutes, there miraculously was! Funny how good food does that, eh? I took the Praline Parfait, while Charlotte dove upon the Espresso Mousse. You can see them in the images above and below. My desert had the added bonus of being on a cool plate and also having little purple petal decorations. I ate them, too! We were also fortunate to try a little dessert wine, which is sweeter and more fruit-orientated. Mango and pineapple hints were tasted and enjoyed, but sadly at this point we were beyond full to have anything more! We left sated, and happy, leaving behind nothing but empty glasses and clear plates. 
Espresso, ice cream and those bobbly bits. Everything Charlotte loves.
If there were only one more thing I’d recommend, it’s that you book a table in advance. There is limited seating and while our reservation was for 6pm, numerous people got turned away at the door while we were there. You do not want that to happen to you or your stomach. 

Many thanks go to Charlotte for having me along for the ride, Sophie for her flawless performance that made the evening so much better and the rest of the staff, with their focused, attentive attitudes and professional yet warm demeanour. And to me, for eating about 400g of steak and wanting to break that record soon! 

Until next time! 

The Coal Shed 
Address: 8 Boyce's St, Brighton BN1 1AN 
Phone: 01273 322998

Opening Times:
Monday to Thursday: 12-4pm, 6-10pm
Friday to Saturday: 12-4pm, 6-10:30pm

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