Anything Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, touches seems to turn to gold. So imagine what can happen when he teams up with Doug McMaster of Brighton’s pioneering zero waste restaurant Silo, Dr Arielle Johnson (former resident food scientist at Noma), as well as Krug & Belvedere.
The result – Cub, a new high end restaurant/bar hybrid with sustainability at the forefront of everything they do. Not that you’d necessarily notice it to begin with. The space centres around the bar as stage and cosy yellow booths all look on as the audience. The bar is made from fully recyclable materials but it’s not obvious, it’s not the kind of place where ethos is rammed down your throat. That’s kept behind closed doors for you (unless you want to find out more, in which case the incredibly switched on waiters will be glad to share). Proving that sustainability doesn’t have to be a bore, the refillable water bottles are labelled with ‘bubbles bitchezzzz’ and ‘still as fuck’. Which we LOVED.
The concept here is fresh and very fun (what do you expect from Ryan?). There’s a set menu priced at a very reasonable £45 to be taken by the whole table. Once agreed on you’ll be bought a selection of drinks and dishes. It’s not as formal as a traditional tasting menu, it’s not liked a paired cocktail flight. No, it’s more like a steady stream of consciousness from the kitchen & the bar. Sometimes you might get a cocktail, sometimes it will be food. If that all sounds a bit disjointed, it was seamless, keeping us lifted and excited for what was going to arrive next.
The menu gives little away and will be changing regularly, allowing for seasonal and abundant ingredients. We started with a dainty glass of Krug which had been spiked with herbs and contained a little jelly disc at the bottom, perfect alongside our snack of cucumber crackers which we were instructed to season with lemon spiked salt and tomato spiked pepper.
Next up was a gorgeous yellow tomato with Muscat soaked grapes and lemon verbena – very reminiscent of dishes we’ve tried recently in Copenhagen – this had the Noma touch all over it. A long Belvedere cocktail arrived at some point, made with greengage (a European plum), chamomile and cider vermouth. Chervil is well known as a herb in French cooking, but the root is rarely used for anything. Not so here where they put the beautiful waxy potato flavour to good use alongside red flash apples and turbo whey (the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained, a delicious byproduct of cheese) given new life with miso. A potent short drink saw us through between dishes – a concoction of Mr Lyan’s gin, bitter orange and miso with ripe bananas that had been left to cuddle up to wonky carrots which speeds up their sweetness – an exciting twist on a classic negroni.
If, like us, you’re not a big fan of mushrooms, the description ‘Shroooms with Shrooms’ isn’t likely to get you excited. The playful dish pokes fun at some of the luxury meals you’ll find at other restaurants which manage to use hundreds of ingredients. The simplicity here is mushrooms, three ways – and you know what, it even managed to convince us. Served with our favourite Hackney Wild from E5 Bakehouse, these guys proudly make their own butter each week.
Saving best till last, we ended our meal with homemade ice-cream, melted down and then SMOKED, with peated barley, served on top of an apple skin compote of sorts and topped with a luscious green fig leaf oil – our ideal dessert, not too sweet and very grown up. Of course, Ryan wouldn’t let you leave without a nightcap. Award-winning Square Mile Coffee had been teamed with cognac and peach with a mint chocolate ‘matchmaker’ (obviously there’s no plastic straws to swizzle here). We were told that some people would be able to pick up on the menthol, whilst others would get spice. It all depends on how you’d experienced the meal and what you’d eaten that day, everyone will have a different experience. More Noma at work?
At the end of the meal we realised it had been completely vegetarian. That’s not to say it always will be, they are looking into ethical meat options – for example kid goat or veal – both by products of dairy farming. There’s still questions to iron out but what’s for sure is this is a place for experimentation and discovery and there’s no rigid rule book to abide by. We can’t wait to see what comes next…