I’m not usually one for grandeur – I’m a working class Scottish bird and when you’re one of those you don’t often get the opportunity (or have the bank balance) to eat in up-market restaurants.
Luckily, my work organises a summer party each year and so this year took us to GB1 at The Grand. Thankfully, I wasn’t paying. Otherwise we’d have been at McDonald’s for a cheeseburger and apple pie.
The setting is opulent and, for want of a better word, grand. The restaurant is on the ground floor of the luxurious Grand Hotel. High ceilings. Beautiful coving work. Marble. It was everything I hoped it would be. I have been to the Grand before but only for the Christmas party night (thanks, again, to my work) but not to the restaurant. There is a bar and oyster station in the centre of the room where you can watch people at work. It’s old school luxury at its best. In the foyer, a three piece band were playing so you were serenaded each time you popped to the ‘Powder Room’ (see, I’m getting the hang of this!)
As I wasn’t paying, I fully took advantage when ordering.
‘Bread and popcorn’ £4.00 per person – chewy white and brown bread with scallop popcorn
We ordered bread and popcorn for the table. The popcorn, whilst seemingly a weird concept was actually inspired. It was very moreish. Very lightly fishy, salty and with a hint of frying. It’s odd to explain but I loved it.
‘Prawns’ (from the Crustacea section) £11.50 – classic prawn cocktail with American sauce
I was torn between the scallop starter and the prawns so I asked our, very attentive, waiter which was the larger of the two. Last year we went to the Salt Room and the small portions killed me and let’s just say the night didn’t end well! I also live in perpetual fear of hunger. He recommended that the prawn dish was more substantial than the scallops. I was hopeful for the best prawn cocktail I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t. Sadly, it was just a regular prawn cocktail but with larger than average prawns. The best prawn cocktail, for the record, I’ve ever eaten was at The RAC in Epsom at my sister-in-law’s wedding.
Rock Oyster with chilli and pickled ginger – £2.50
I have never tried an oyster before so thought this the perfect opportunity to try my first. I was pleasantly surprised. The chilli and pickled ginger was really flavoursome and I did end up chewing the oyster as it was quite a big one and I wasn’t sure it would go down the hole in one. I will definitely be eating oysters again.
Seabass £25.00 – pan fried seabass, bean veloute, suckling pig chorizo, crispy free range egg yolk and crispy chicken skin
Sublime. This was perfection. The seabass was a thick well proportioned fillet, beautifully cooked – moist on the flesh and crispy and salty on the skin. The bean veloute was rich, creamy and decadent which went with the fish beautifully. The crispy egg yolk was a REVELATION. I am so glad I left it until the end to have as my last mouthful. Runny egg yolk lightly coated and deep fried. Can’t even explain how good it was. It also came with tasty chorizo and buttery samphire. The only negative was that there were too many butterbeans and I ended up leaving quite a few but that’s being pedantic.
Chunky chips £4.00, samphire and bacon £4.00, béarnaise £3.00
Due to aforementioned fear of hunger I also ordered chunky chips and béarnaise sauce (cos why not?) and a side of samphire and bacon. The chips didn’t appear to be homemade which was a shame, I would have liked to have seen some hand cut chips, especially considering their grill section is quite substantial and the majority of people will pick chips to go with their grills. The béarnaise was good, as it should be. The samphire and bacon was delicious and went so well with the seabass, perhaps unnecessary as the menu didn’t say that the dish already came with samphire but I wasn’t complaining!
In hindsight, the main of the seabass was substantial enough for the average person – particularly if you are one for dessert and would be saving some room for that. I’m not personally but I did try some lager and lime sorbet which basically tasted like frozen Corona and was the perfect palate cleanser.
My meal came to £50.00 before drinks. Granted, I was being extravagant [read: greedy] because I knew I wasn’t paying for it. The seabass was definitely worth the money, as was the oyster, but the others maybe not quite so much. £4.00 for some chips that taste frozen is quite a lot of money and the prawn cocktail wasn’t as good as I had hoped but it was a good size.
All in all, for the evening, I think my share of the bill came to around £120.00 including service (10% automatically added) as I drank Rossinis all night (prosecco with raspberry and strawberry puree, delicious) and they were £8.50 each plus 10% service. No photos of the rossinis as I was too busy drinking them.
The 10% for service, in my opinion, was justified. Our main waiter for the evening was super attentive and checked back enough to keep your glasses full, hence why I ended up having so many cocktails!
It’s easy to make the comparison with Salt Room as they have a lot of similarities. GB1 would take the lead over Salt Room for me personally.
For a decadent meal, perhaps for a special occasion, GB1 at the Grand is a sure fire good choice. The grandeur of the setting does appeal to many and rightly so. Had I ordered differently, this review could have been 100% positive. I’m kicking myself now for that bloody prawn cocktail! However, for that seabass alone I would go back, pay the £25.00 and drink tap water all night because it was so good!
97-99 King’s Road, Brighton, BN1 2FW