When I heard that Graze in Hove was having a refurb and total makeover I was a bit unsettled. I’m a bit like a child sometimes in that I don’t really like change, and there was something about that place that brought back happy memories of eating in Soho in the ‘eighties, tucked away in sumptuous dark hidey-holes with exceptional table linen and extravagant food, and an even more extravagant wine list.
But I’m very happy to report that I needn’t have worried. In fact, what has replaced the old guard is a thriving, buzzing, eating environment that feels simultaneously European and British, and where the service is good enough to feel a bit upmarket, but the dining experience is relaxed and informal.
Gone are the dark corners and set tables, replaced by long Spanish-style counter dining, and a handful of tables scattered around. True to their roots, Kate and Manni have stuck to the tapas style food that made their name, but it’s been jazzed up considerably, much like the décor.
We went on a Tuesday night and it was rammed, which is always a good sign, and the place was filled with a real range of people – from gorgeous single girls doing a bit of work at laptops, to groups of friends joyfully wading through piles of food and wine.
I loved sitting up at the counter and sticking my beak into everything the staff are up to (I expect they love customers like me). But I like to watch my food being prepared, or ask questions about wines or dishes as the team are bustling about. It makes me feel involved.
The staff on hand are all pretty knowledgeable about the menu, and I love that. Is there a more annoying phrase in the lexicon of dining language than, “Oh I’m not sure; hold on, I’ll have to ask chef”? I want to think that the people who work together know what the hell each other is doing, and that includes whether or not there’s black pudding with the scallops, or whether there’s shrimp in the fish stock. Call me picky. But I’m very pleased to report that at Market, the left hand very much knows what the right hand is doing.
The food was all lovely. There were so many little dishes I can’t go through it all individually without rambling on like some old duffer, but I have listed what we had below. Things that really stood out for me were the goat’s cheese churros with gooey sweet truffled honey (an inspired dish of decadent sumptuousness), the octopus, which was fresh and firm and not all wobbly, which I can’t stand.
The polenta balls were sticky and satisfying, but I’d approach those with respect if you are planning to order a few different things as they’re properly filling, and the truffled macaroni cheese, which was just sexy as hell.
Slightly disappointed in the brownie – the flavours were amazing but it was a little dry, a touch overcooked. But hey; the place was heaving so we can forgive them that, and honestly, the cheese board more than made up for it.
Get yourself to Market. I expect you should probably book, if they take bookings. Take your time, and take in a few different dishes. And take a good friend. They’ll thank you for it.
WHAT DID WE EAT?
Padron peppers £4
Goats cheese churros, white truffled honey £4
Broccoli, kale, tahini £5
Polenta, mushroom and cream cheese balls, sweetcorn £8
Scallops, wild boar bacon, honeyed parsnips £8
Warm octopus, capers, smoked paprika £9.50
Beer braised ribs £8
Truffled mac and cheese £4.80
Warm chocolate and peanut butter brownie, banana ice cream £6
Cheese board – price dependent on volume
Bottle of Picpoul, Morin Langaran, Languedoc £26
MARKET RESTAURANT & BAR
42 Western Road