Located in the heart of the north laine , Isaac At is a homegrown restaurant which started from a young man’s dream which has blossomed to a leading dining destination. Created on the concept of experiential dining, they offer a tasting menu which specialises on the use of local produce and the techniques of an extremely talented team. With customer service being at the heart of the restaurant it’s not hard to imagine that returning customers and recommendations bring in more and more trade year in year out.
We headed down to meet Isaac the brains behind the business to find out a little more about him and the restaurant.
Isaac AT – an exceptional restaurant with a very talented Chef
What inspired your to get into cooking?
Ever since I was a young boy cooking has always been a passion of mine. Growing up, my uncle was the head pastry chef of the Ritz so I used to spend a lot time with him cooking at home which I loved. As I grew up I did have a brief spell when I thought I should be an accountant due to my love of numbers and money but cooking always excited me and deep down I knew it was what I wanted to do, which is why I am where I am today.
Where did you train to become a chef?
I started training at city college in Brighton before attend Westminster. I then went onto The Grand in Brighton where I learnt whilst on the job, picking up a lot along the way. I always want to improve, even now so I tend to read a lot of books, watch videos and do my own research online. Development is the key to us improving and getting more inspiration.
What do you like most about cooking?
The bit I like most about cooking is the ingredients. When I get something in which I have never seen or used before, it’s a challenge and makes cooking really fun. By concentrating on the ingredients you can get a really good end product which is what we focus on here at Isaac At.
How do you source your produce?
Sourcing our produce was hard at first, but now we have good relationships with our suppliers, it really allows us to push the idea of food being sourced locally. We don’t like to work with big suppliers; just local ones who know what we like and can produce high quality ingredients. Food miles were put on our menu recently as a way to be more transparent to our customers and a way to show them that we are proud to know where all our ingredients come from.
You’re only 23 years old, have you ever found your age has affected your career?
When I was 17 and going for chef de parti jobs, I found it difficult as they would not take me that seriously. However as I grew up and started to look older that soon went away, especially now I own my own restaurant. What’s really good about being in this industry is that you cannot hide as what you cook is who you are and if people like the food you are cooking they soon forget about your age.
How did you come up with the idea of Isaac At?
Initially I wanted to be a pop-up, where the idea was to be Isaac at [location] (location being the place we were heading to) but there were a couple of stumbling blocks as I wanted permanent staff to keep the quality and consistency of the food being produced and finding a location each month became difficult. I then found this building and spoke to the landlord who was really supportive and said to go for it so transformed it from offices to a restaurant and here we are now.
How often do you change the menu?
We aim to change a dish once a week when possible to keep the menu fresh and exciting. If this is not possible we will change an element or two depending on what is coming in and out of season. We always aim to be 3-4 weeks ahead of what’s coming into season in order to plan what dishes we might serve, but weather can have an effect on what comes in due to things such as storms or floods affecting crops.
Would you consider doing a three-course menu?
Currently, I really like the format of a taster menu as it allows us to showcase the best foods which Sussex has to offer. By serving 5 or 6 dishes it allows us to express ourselves and show it’s not just about one ingredient on the plate. We can tailor it to the seasons and show people what they could be eating instead of them selecting what they want, allowing them to try something new and experience a different view of Sussex.
Do you have a favourite dish?
No, not at all! When I do a new dish I think that’s my favourite, but then I do another one a few weeks later and again I think that’s the new best one! When a new ingredient comes in it always exciting creating a new dish with that ingredient and when I nail it I think that’s the best dish until the next time but everything is constantly changing and we are always improving.
Are you currently aiming for any awards?
Our aim at the moment is to do the best we can do and become one of the top restaurants in the South-East. I would love for people to come to Brighton and say “let’s go to Isaac At” due to the quality of our food and know that they will have a great time. It’s important to deliver to the customer’s needs and not to the awards and by doing this awards will follow, as customers will leave impressed. It’s all about keeping the customers happy as they are the heart of the business.
Have you had any kitchen disasters?
Throughout the years we have had some! I remember one time we had to do two services without any power, which was chaotic as you can imagine! We were cooking dishes with blow torches, using next doors freezer, keeping the plates warm in a water bath and using tea lights to light up the tables. Strangely enough, these are the days where the customers seem to appreciate it most, as they see the amount of effort we are trying to put in to give them a good service.
Make sure you head down to Isaac at for an experiential dining experience which you will not forget…
2 Gloucester Street,