After being voted the #2 best Ice Rink in the UK, it’s not surprising that Brighton’s Ice Rink at the Royal Pavilion is set to return for the next 5 years alongside the all-new Feast Restaurant & Bar.
Caterer Robin Dunlop is a man with big ideas. Lucky, as he needs them. Feast – the pop-up restaurant beside this year’s Royal Pavilion ice rink – has been charged with providing all walks of life with an eclectic range of reasonably priced grub and drinks. It’s the trickiest of conundrums – providing a dining experience for all tastes – but the Scotsman believes Feast delivers the goods.
“You can do anything, be it wandering in for a coffee in the morning, coming along with the kids for lunch and skating, or popping in after work for a pint,” he says.
“We want to be a proper venue like anything else around here, but one that provides something different.”
A co-founder of innovative boutique caterers Temple & Shian, Dunlop’s first experience of the food industry came one summer during his university holidays selling oysters to audiences waiting in the Pleasance Courtyard during the Edinburgh Festival.
“My auntie and uncle have this oyster farm, and my cousin and I thought we’d have some fun. We got some really basic stuff – window boxes with a bit of webbing tied around it – and spent the month cracking them open for customers,” he says.
Adopting the moniker Oyster Boys and delighting further festivals with their cheeky take on “on-the-hoof” dining, they were soon branching out into mussels (aptly naming that business initiative Mussel Men) and courting corporate interest from the likes of Sky.
“I was always looking to expand into the wider catering industry. I wanted to do this canapé range of Scottish dishes – taking my granny’s classic recipes like stovies, and giving them a contemporary twist to make it into a canapé,” Dunlop continues.
Instead, one could argue that vision has been melded into Feast – a dining experience that balances a contemporary aesthetic with a sense of Regency grandeur. Huge windows with Royal Pavilion-style transfers and bunches of fairy lights frame the ice rink outside, providing a warmer option for those of us who prefer their ice crushed in a good mojito or cubed in a pint of posh cider.
Inside, chandeliers hang from the ceiling while overstuffed Chesterfields, free-standing lamps and rustic wooden seating will create a sense of being in a huge living room. A piano in the corner and the promise of regular live music speaks of a relaxed speakeasy vibe that Dunlop is willing to encourage. It seems that creating an atmosphere to socialise, as well as dine in, is paramount – as evidenced by some of the more social menu choices.
“We’ll be serving platters of cured meats and smoked fish – easily shared between two or four of you. We’re also doing cheese fondues. On Sunday we do a feast – you can book in eight to ten people and you get a whole suckled pig with all the trimmings. We’re also doing a poultry feast and a vegetarian one,” he says.
“It’s not very formal as we want to make it inviting. We want people to come in and just relax.”
Aside from these hearty sharing platters (starting from £13.50), the lunch and dinner menus provide family-friendly dishes and prices – Sussex sausage and mash, fish and chips, seafood chowder all for around £10 – while those who want a little decadent dining can enjoy rib-eye steak served with chunky chips, mushrooms, salad and béarnaise sauce (£14.50) or rump of lamb served with beetroot dauphinoise potatoes, vegetables and Madeira red wine jus (£14). There’s even oysters (£1.80 each, six for £10, 12 for £18) and Champagne on offer – a nod to Dunlop’s history with shellfish.
“It is all really good value and if you can get it out there,”
Dunlop says, pointing outside, “you can get it in here.”
The range of food available is second only to the wide range of drinks on offer, courtesy of Temple & Shian’s partner in Feast, pop-up bar specialists Peppermint. As well as a selection of beers, Sussex real ales, wines andChampagne, the forward-thinking company will be serving up all manner of cocktails and Regency punch in china tea sets.
* Saturday, November 12, to Sunday, January 22, open Monday to Sunday, 10am – 12.30am. Visit www.feastbrighton.co.uk to reserve a table and to view full menus. Or visit www.facebook.com/FeastBrighton and www.Twitter.com/FeastBrighton
Source: Brighton Argus