Brighton’s restaurant scene is one of the most exciting in the country, but if there’s one thing lacking in this seaside city it’s true fine dining. Enter Dave Mothersill - the former exec chef of Razak Helalat’s Black Rock Restaurants and Ben McKeller’s The Gingerman - with a fresh new special occasion spot, smack bang in the middle of central Brighton.
Furna takes up residence in a gorgeous Grade-II Georgian building in the New Road parade by Royal Pavilion Gardens. Lots of period features have been retained, tastefully, on the inside, so Furna feels grand and spacious but still quite contemporary thanks to mustard yellow bar stools and sleek furniture. The focal point is the open kitchen at the end of the room, where Dave and his team calmly turn out some of the most accomplished cooking we’ve tasted anywhere.
Dave’s cooking undoubtedly has an Asian accent, without being fusion. Rather than any specific culture or nation, the menu is largely informed by seasonal produce. Our December visit meant the menu was packed with bold, comforting winter flavours, from a snack of beef tartare with fermented ponzu and roast cep powder, to an outstanding sika deer dish that used multiple parts of the animal, including a succulent pancake of braised venison neck, Agen prunes and beetroot, with a rich sauce of hazelnut and roasted bones.
There’s no shortage of luxury on the menu either. After a fluffy, glazed Parker House roll arrives with roasted yeast butter - one of the best bread courses we’ve had in some time - the menu launches straight into a langoustine royale, served with caviar, apple and tangy yuzu kosho. It’s a stunning combination - a statement of intent - made all the better by a fresh, creamy, lees-aged muscadet.
Whether it’s barbecued lobster, mirin meringue with quince and pine, or a chocolate, coffee and pumpkin miso dessert, there’s very little to fault from start to finish. That includes wine pairings and cocktails, which can often feel like an afterthought but are expertly crafted here - try the sake, vermouth and shiso-infused ‘Shiso’ for size. Every aspect of the experience at Furna is carefully thought-out and the results are superb, making this easily one of Brighton’s very best restaurants.