THEY spend their days sweating behind a hob to create our favourite dishes but where do chefs go to eat on their days off?

There’s something quite satisfying about picturing them tucking into a pot noodle or a fighting a late night kebab addiction.

But one Brighton chef has opened a new seafront dining spot, precisely because he struggled to find a spot to eat out with the family.

Michael Bremner, the darling of the Brighton food scene and conqueror of the BBC’s Great British Menu, this month opened his second restaurant, Murmur, a name inspired by the seafront’s starlings.

Forget the small plates and finer dining of his 64 Degrees in Meeting House Lane – Murmur is a healthy and honest restaurant that Bremner would be happy to take his two girls to.

So this week, The Gourmand went to check out Brighton’s newest family dining spot.

Tucked between the i360 and a new giant spiral art installation, with views looking out over the West Pier, restaurant locations don’t get much more Brighton.

It’s a pokey little space, with one end occupied by a giant stainless steel open kitchen. But thanks to French doors opening out on to a blessedly quiet seafront and the small space savviness of an Ikea showroom, they’ve managed to cram in 79 covers – with 39 inside and a further 40 on the terrace.

The drinks list is elegantly sized, wines divvied up by subtitles like ‘silky’ and ‘mineral’, and some tempting sounding cocktails. Local star Ridgeview has sparkling wine available by the glass and there’s a Brighton Bier Pale and the brilliantly named Cyclops Eyedrops (a strong pale ale).

The menu is equally well proportioned, a selection of six starters and mains, a handful of ‘snack’ appetizers, and four puds, each showcasing a thoughtful balance of seasonal and locally sourced produce. There are also plenty of fishy nods to the seaside locale.

So far, so good. Yet, from the first sip of the Sav Blanc to the plate of soft white bread and salty whipped butter, there is one elephant lurking in the room. The price. It’s got to be said, with mains averaging £17 a plate, it’s not the sort of evening out that everyone will be able to afford.

To be fair, children eat for free but that’s no use if you don’t have them or indeed want a night out without the little terrors.

Starters begin with a bowl of fish soup and garlic toast, with a generous helping of plump seafood chunks swimming in a pool of heady tomato fish broth.

There’s a hearty hum of garlic and onion, without erring on heaviness for a summer evening.

Our second starter, the tagliatelle, is a study in simplicity – strands of fresh pasta coiled within a rich, yolk sauce. Shavings of truffle and parmesan add a pungent kick of salt and earthiness. It’s an unapologetically rich plate of food and it’s sized accordingly.

After Bremner’s success using ox tongue on the Great British Menu, its presence on the main menu was definitely tempting. But two reasonably classical dishes won out in the end.

The hearty fillet of light, perfectly flaking cod, reclining on a bed of steamed mussels, is near perfect.

A butter sauce studded by parsley and dill is comforting with the hint of anise flavouring. The only curious addition is the braised butter beans, which are soft and a little grainy, and leave us yearning for the crunch of crispy potato.

The lamb is roasted to a perfect rosy pink, with plenty of seasoning and a delicious crunch of herby crust. It’s paired with another slightly unexpected ingredient, small soft pimples of fregola, a peppercorn sized pasta, cooked in a basil sauce. Pickled and charred courgette add a welcome note of bitter and tang amongst the sweet meat. But the star of the dish is the sauce, rich and luxuriant with a good kick of red wine.

The dessert course is a bit of an anti-climax, a bowl of chocolate pudding studded with raspberries and a scoop of standard vanilla ice cream. It’s the first of the dishes that feels a little measly, a small portion and the piping hot dish leaving the chocolate with a slightly charred aftertaste.

And at £8 a pop, it’s not quite good enough value, nor exciting enough.

And here is where the biggest issue with a meal out at Murmur comes to the fore.

Would I want to feed my family here? Yes. The food, service and setting are all great. But could I afford to? Absolutely not. Bremner launched Murmur as a laid-back and “accessibly priced” alternative to 64 Degrees. He has failed on the latter. Many will have expected a five star review but given the cost, it is only appropriate to knock off a star.

There is no denying Bremner’s quality and Murmur will most probably be one of the go-to Brighton restaurants for years to come.

However, the pricing has to change.

  • The Gourmand pays for all his meals.


Food: ★★★★☆

Atmosphere: ★★★★☆

Service: ★★★☆☆


Selection of bread with butter – £3

Fish soup with garlic toast – £7.50

Tagliatelle, shaved truffle, egg yolk and parmesan – £10.50

Roast cod with steamed mussels, braised butter beans and a parsley dill beurre blanc – £17

Roast lamb rump with fregola with basil puree, pickled and charred courgette and herb crust – £18

Chocolate raspberry pudding with vanilla ice cream – £8