When it comes to running a good restaurant, head chef and owner of Forty One says it boils down to three things – “a nice drink, a decent plate of food and friendly service”.
He hopes to have ticked all three boxes with his first restaurant Forty One, which opened in the former Harry’s English Restaurant, near Palmeira Square, last month.
But despite having worked at Harry’s several years ago he was loathe to repeat the same style.
“I like seasonal, I like local, I love organic,” he says.
“I like to holiday and travel – so I have mixed the menu up. We live in multicultural Britain, and I have a love affair with my belly, so it struck me as churlish to just label ourselves as British.
“We’re a friendly neighbourhood restaurant that serves decent food, we’re not trying to be anything else.”
Brown was classically trained with an apprenticeship at The Grand in King’s Road, Brighton.
His long career has seen him run a five-star game lodge in Zambia, just upstream from the Victoria Falls, as well as work in and run kitchens at The Druids on The Level, Food For Friends in Meeting House Lane, and at the University Of Sussex, where he ran the bars and food with the support of 45 part time students.
Throughout there has been one maxim to what he cooks.
“I cook what I would like to eat myself,” he says. “Hopefully it will make other people happy when they come in.”
Forty One offers a simple lunch menu catering both for office workers looking for a light bite or anyone after something a little more filling, such as slow-roast lamb shoulder, or grilled skate wing with black butter, Charlotte potatoes and purple sprouting broccoli.
The dinner menu is a slightly more traditional set-up, offering a selection of six starters, main courses and desserts. Both menus will change every four to six weeks with the seasons, although popular favourites such as Eggs Benedict or the chargrilled steak burger may stay on at lunch.
Forty One will also be offering roasts on a Sunday, with beef always on offer, and is launching a Christmas menu this month.
All the restaurant’s beef comes from a Cornish farm collective supplying a Hove butcher, with all steaks 28-day aged.
The fruit and vegetables come from an award-winning Covent Garden supplier who grows his own produce in Kent.
“The dinner menu to some extent writes itself,” says Brown. “You can’t ignore mussels and game at this time of year. We also have a lovely leek and gruyere tart on the lunch menu, as leeks are in season.”
The restaurant also serves rainforest alliance-certified Bristot coffee.
And when it comes to the wine list, there is something both for the experienced connoisseur and those who get nervous when that intimidating book comes around.
“I wanted to try to approach it in a way that was more user-friendly,” says Brown. “It makes it a little bit easier to match with food.”
The list has been divided into sections according to taste rather than grape – with whites ranging from fresh and refreshing crisp and zesty to medium-bodied floral and versatile to rich bold and substantial. Reds go from light easy-drinking to substantial deep rich, taking in bright, fruity and warm wines too.
The menu also has fizz, rose and a more traditional proprietor’s choice section, where bottles range from £40 to £210.
“The wines are coming out of private collectors’ cellars in London,” says Brown. “I hope people will find something they won’t get anywhere else – I don’t think you will find a better list in Brighton.”
- Church Road, Hove, 01273 220663. Open noon to 10pm Tuesday to Friday, noon to 10.30pm Saturday and noon to 3pm Sunday. Closed Mondays. For more details, visit www.restaurantfortyone.com