By Julia Thompson
Brighton and Hove City College’s catering students are working hard to create a professional atmosphere and some delicious dishes at the football stadium’s new restaurant.
You might be forgiven for thinking you’d just stepped into a shiny new office. But this is, in fact, the brand new East Central Brasserie at the Amex Stadium. Complete with filter lighting, grey carpets and big squishy chairs, it has none of the typical ambience of a restaurant. However, as soon as the immense football stadium comes into view it is clear that these are the best seats in the house. And soon, the office vibe begins to turn into more of a corporate-box feel.
Despite not actually ordering the salmon fish cakes, they end up in front of me nonetheless. This however appears to be a blessing in disguise; they are perfect: crusty and golden brown on the outside, spongy, herby and tangy on the inside. The salmon really is melt-in-the-mouth quality and they haven’t overdone it on the lime and coriander, as all too often seems to be the case with fish cakes. The accompanying hand-cut chips, carefully arranged in a charming mini tower, complete this beautifully presented meal.
Other options for mains include traditional favourites such as quarter pounder burgers and fish and chips, as well as the more ambitious roasted beetroot and goats’ cheese crostini. Dessert doesn’t quite live up to the high hopes I’d formed after the main course. The apple pie is a tad on the soggy side and seems to be devoid of the things that really make an apple pie an apple pie: little shrivelled raisins, cinnamon, and nutmeg. But it is far from inedible and it certainly didn’t stop me polishing off the lot.
The Brasserie, which only opened its doors last month, is a training restaurant for catering and hospitality students from Brighton and Hove City College. The innovative project is designed to help train students in a real working environment, under the watchful eye of trained chefs. The fact that the restaurant is a training facility allows them to keep prices low. Mains are £4.50 and you can pick up a starter or dessert for a bargain £2.50.
The training is clearly of a very high standard. The staff members are immaculately turned-out, each wearing a perfectly pressed waistcoat with their name embroidered on the lapel. They are ever so polite: pulling out chairs, topping up drinks and generally trying very hard to impress.
The experience was a pleasant one overall, with any mistakes being swiftly and ruefully rectified. Its clear that there is a lot of talent amongst the students, and it’s a good thing there is. With the college having already produced top chefs Ben McKellar (The Gingerman) and Simon Duncan (Sam’s of Brighton) it looks like they have rather a lot to live up to.