Restaurant review of Furna in New Road, Brighton

I have to say I was more than surprised when I heard that Furna opened at the end of November last year. With most of us having our festive socializing plans laid out weeks, if not months, in advance, it seemed a little foolhardy to open a shiny new restaurant serving a single tasting menu for £90 per person.

Add to that relatively limited hours and only 26 covers, and I began to wonder if anyone had been hit on the head.

But it was reassuring to learn that chef Dave Mothersill was the talent and vision behind Furna in New Road, Brighton. Dave knows cooking and hospitality – and Brighton’s market square – inside out, having lived in the has managed the busy kitchens of The Coalshed, The Salt Room and The Gingerman for the past decade.

I’ve eaten at these places many, many times over the years and I can count dud meals on one hand. Dave really knows how to cook.

The Argus: 24th November 2022. Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom. Opening of the Furna restaurant. Chef Dave Mothersill and his team welcome guests to a soft launch of his restaurant on New Road, Brighton. Photo © Julia Claxton

The format of a set tasting menu is interesting. As a culinary trend, its demise is often predicted—including me—but it lives on for another day.

A successful tasting menu is thoughtful, packed with ingredients that are carefully selected and prepared with aplomb.

Unfortunately, tasting menus all too often focus too much on gimmicks and spectacles. Luckily, Furna’s tasting menu falls firmly into the former of these camps, and it’s sensational.

Had a midweek dinner with a chef friend on the first day of February.

Within seconds of arriving, our coats were removed and we were seated at our table sipping a cocktail of rhubarb-infused vodka, which was a welcome appetizer before our trio of canapés arrived.

Indeed, as a food writer, it is quite a challenge to reflect on the complexity of the technique and the spectrum of ingredients that come together on each exquisitely prepared dish.

For the first time in a long time I’m a bit at a loss for words to describe the food itself other than to say it’s great.

The Argus: Kelp Pudding, Local Lobster, Nashi Pear, Shimeji, Exmoor Caviar

From the very first course it was clear that there were no limits to the use of high-quality ingredients such as lobster, caviar and truffles.

Although the entire tasting menu was virtually flawless, my standouts were the tenderly cooked Cornish cod with smoked eel and an amazingly hearty pre-dessert of mirin meringue, rhubarb, crème fraiche and tarragon.

My dining partner loved the duck pancake with its rich and bold flavors.

Despite the discreet but friendly professionalism of the front-of-house team, the restaurant has a very relaxed ambience.

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Unobtrusive ambient music – just the right volume to provide background without smothering conversation – and a contemporary design of warm woods, aged mirrors and a subtle nod to Asia, particularly Japan, found in some of the in the ingredients used in dishes.

The wine list is undoubtedly the best in Brighton and would hold its own against any top class restaurant at Big Smoke.

Split into two lists, it’s not cheap, but you don’t want to be sold a bottle of Plonk with a £90-a-head menu.

You can enjoy a wine flight to match the menu for an additional £65 – which I personally think is the best option.

Alternatively, the house list starts at £32, or for those with much, much deeper pockets there’s a Chateau Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux which costs just £1,100.

There are only a few English sparklers on the list, but as they come from Sussex’s Dermot Sugrue – possibly one of England’s most successful winemakers – I have no complaints.

Furna is a bold and disruptive concept, but I would expect no less from Dave Mothersill, who has created a first class restaurant wiping the ground with the competition in Sussex.

Caring about provenance, quality and terroir without necessarily obsessing over locality is a bold move, but one undertaken with great skill and unabashed confidence.

Furna is just the kick up the ass that Brighton’s increasingly inward-looking dining scene needs.

Perhaps – just perhaps – the coveted Michelin star that has eluded other great Brighton chefs in recent decades will soon be coming to the city.

Nick Mosley Restaurant review of Furna in New Road, Brighton

Fry Electronics Team

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