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The Cuthbert, Freshfield Road, Brighton, 01273 699693
"The aim is to exceed people’s expectations with what we offer them.”
So says Robin Koehorst, one third of the team which took over The Cuthbert in Freshfield Road back in April.
Boasting more than 30 years in some of Brighton’s best-known and most-loved restaurants between them, The Cuthbert is a chance for Koehorst, Susanna Searle and Dave Mothersill to show what they can do by themselves without established names behind them. As Mothersill puts it, at his stage in his career: “You either do it for yourself, or you move to a Michelin-starred restaurant.”
The team took three weeks to transform the then-closed pub into their vision – creating a warmly coloured dining room, complete with dark wood furniture, and a welcoming pub area, with a traditional bar and room for board games.
“When we came to view the pub it seemed like the ideal space for what we wanted to do,” says Koehorst.
“We especially like the garden – which has been under-used in the recent weather.
“We grafted for three weeks, doing everything ourselves in nine-hour days.
We needed to get the doors open and get people in. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to do any advertising, so it was quite quiet for the first couple of days!”
Now word of mouth is spreading, with taxis filled with instrigued customers coming from as far afield as Hove and Preston Park to sample the food and ambience.
Koehorst admits the initial changes were a surprise to some local residents.
“Some people said they wanted an old-fashioned pub – but all we can do is what we do, as well as we can. Our location isn’t a great thoroughfare – our reputation is our passport to success really. If we can build a good reputation, then people will come.”
“The local residents are the ones who supported us from the start,” adds Searle. “Without them we would have been dead! We want to keep people happy by keeping up our standards, creating a good experience with nice food.”
The rolling menu is contemporary, and largely British, following the seasons and using local suppliers wherever possible. Options range from the unusual – such as butter-roasted pork with crispy pig’s head – to mouth-watering desserts including peanut butter and chocolate tart or black cherry trifle with doughnuts.
Mothersill also provides daily specials, ranging from half-lobster to sweetbreads according to what is beingbroughtinbyfishandmeat suppliers.
The Sunday lunches are already proving popular at £12.50, attracting up to 60 covers on good days.
“It’s about quality rather than quantity,” says Searle. “We want people coming in and enjoying the food experience.”
The team has added a little theatre to the experience – pouring soup at the table for example – which led one visitor to compare it to fine-dining. Searle and Koehorst are keen to emphasise the relaxed atmosphere the venue is trying to foster though – catering to individuals’ needs and expectations.
The lunchtime menu offers two courses for £14 or £17 for three, with a free glass of wine thrown in, while there is the option to have just a main course for £10.
The owners have also listened to their customers – creating a bar menu of light bites starting from £2, ranging from pork scratchings with apple sauce to cheese and charcuterie plates from £5.50.
The food choices are backed up by a wine list designed to match, which was compiled over three months by Searle. It has recently undergone revisions according to customer demand – including offering Cava for the first time.
And the bar currently serves Harveys and regular guest ales.
“We are adding things all the time,” says Searle. “It’s not a finished product at any point – we will be constantly evolving.”
Bar open 11.30am to closing, kitchens open Mon to Sat noon to 3pm and 6pm to 10pm, Sun noon to 4.30pm.
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