You can taste owner Sam Pryor’s travels in every bite at this bijou small plates and wine bar in Hove. The chef has spent years cooking around the world, accumulating a smorgasbord of flavours and techniques along the way. The result he brings to Fourth & Church – named for the intersection in Hove it’s neatly placed on – is an expansive seasonal tapas menu which takes the best of Levantine, Japanese and Mediterranean cuisines and blends them effortlessly into new and harmonious combinations.
It’s a place for more adventurous foodies, and there’s plenty of opportunity for trying something new – on our menu we pinpointed at least eight ingredients or elements to a dish we’d not encountered elsewhere before. A simple plate of roasted and raw cauliflower, almonds, capers and salted yolks (£6.50), for example. was elevated with the addition of vadouvan – a mix of spices thought to originate from French colonial influence in India – which gave the dish a coronation chicken-like kick. That being said, those who prefer to play it safe with more traditional flavours needn’t be put off – Sam’s slow cooked beef cheek with mustard quince and bone marrow (£8.95) is one of the most sumptuously warming dishes I’ve personally eaten all season, and his confit duck beignets (£8.50) are kept the lighter side of autumnal with chestnut aioli.
Because the menu is adapted seasonally, there’s limited time to tuck in to the more warming dishes this side of spring, however if one dish is sure to last another season it’s the smoked herring (£7.95). Served with radish and celeriac remoulade, the meal is a seemingly subtle dish – that is until you add the pureed quince. The combination of these flavours put together is simply triumphant, the quince bringing out the smoke of the herring while the freshness of the radish and the celeriac prevent it becoming too pungent. As is the case with all dishes on the menu, it’s meant for sharing, but you might find it difficult after the first bite.
While it’s all too easy to place focus on the food (particularly when it’s this impressive), Fourth & Church is of course also part wine bar, so the drinks deserve a mention too. We were presented with a small glass for each of our seven small courses ranging from a Riesling to a Madeira, which were flawlessly paired to each dish. A few unknown grapes were also offered, with both Sam and his staff being overwh
elmingly knowledgeable about each one and happy to answer any questions we had about the flavours and origin.
In all, our experience of Fourth & Church on a quiet Tuesday night was an incredibly positive one – Sam and his team are wonderful hosts, and we were very impressed by both dining and wine menus. It’s clear that the restaurant-cum-wine-bar is a real labour of love for Sam – in fact it comes across in every inch of the place, which makes it a truly welcoming place to be. Whether you’re a Hove dweller or a Brightonian trailing through that neck of the woods, drop in – we guarantee you’ll feel immediately right at home.
Fourth & Church is at 84 Church Rd, Hove, BN3 2EB. Tel: 01273 724709
This review was first published by the author at BN1 Magazine.
Images: All Fourth & Church