Touted as one of Brighton’s premier restaurants, The Coalshed, Brighton enjoys an immense hype swelled by simple word of mouth. It is more often than not, the first and most highly recommended establishment when asking “where’s good to eat around here”. Based on all of this glowing praise I will admit that I had booked a table for two at the Coalshed with very high expectations. After 2 hours however, I left wondering if I had booked the wrong restaurant.

Taste Sensation

Before I get on to the things that the Coalshed got wrong, I want to make it clear that if this review focused purely on taste experience, then the Coalshed got it absolutely right.

The menu is fantastic, offering more options than I had anticipated for a higher tier restaurant and as expected, it all looked and sounded incredibly appetizing.  Famous for its steak however (and being a steak lover in general), I opted for Fillet, cooked medium rare with a side order of chips, creamed spinach and peppercorn sauce with a lovely bottle of Carpenè Malvolti 1868 Prosecco. While the steak itself arrived to our table a little more on the medium side coupled with a slight uncertain moment concerning the creamed spinach side order (more on that in a moment), the taste, overall, was excellent. A refreshingly sharp and sweet lemon & raspberry sorbet to finish left both nodding in approval.

As mentioned before, had this review focused on taste alone then Coalshed would be receiving all of the kudos. Unfortunately it is not and so I shall withhold the kudos; and here’s why.

Extra, extra.

“The Coalshed could give Ryanair a run for its money when it comes to ludicrous add-ons.”

Let me get this out of the way first and foremost; You should never have to pay extra for sauce with your steak. For that matter, I feel that steak, as a meal, should come with some kind of side order as standard be it potato or some kind of vegetable. When you order a £30 fillet steak at the Coalshed, that is exactly what you get. Steak. Just steak. Oh, and a halved tomato. Sides are extra as stated on the menu, sauce is an extra £2, which is absolutely not stated on the menu.

Aside from the obvious profit margins, I can’t for the life of me understand why the Coalshed feels the need to almost obnoxiously charge extra for key components of the meal you’ve ordered, that ordered anywhere else would be included. It feels almost like arrogance, and that is absolutely off-putting.

Bring me the wine…anyone?

The Prosecco was lovely. It was also on the other side of the restaurant for the duration of the meal in an ice bucket with another, identical, bottle of wine for the table next to us. We were wondering whether we had to also pay extra to be allowed an ice bucket of our own, because this is the first time in my long history of dining out that my pretty expensive bottle of wine wasn’t next to or on my table.  At one point, we were waiting with empty glasses trying to get the attention of staff. If you won’t let the diner pour the wine themselves, then don’t leave them dry.



I have to give my appreciation to our waiter. He was friendly, amusing and attentive aside from the aforementioned lack of attention to our wine glasses. However, my eyebrow raised from a bemused curiosity over my distant wine bottle to a lofty “what on earth?” when the waiter delivered our main course. Absent was the Spinach cream, the reason being that our waiter felt it “didn’t look right”. Indeed, my appreciation extended further to our waiter who didn’t want to serve us sub-standard food, however I cannot shake the thought that, with a reputation and expectation such as the Coalshed demands, the dish should not have left the kitchen in such state that the waiter refused to serve it.


The Coalshed has enjoyed a reputation in the city of being one of the best, an accolade shared with its sister restaurant, The Saltrooms. But I can’t help but feel that they exert an arrogance about their own hype, while also showing signs of buckling under the weight of it all. I wanted to enjoy the Coalshed, I expected to enjoy the Coalshed; but I came away unable to justify the bill at the end and unable to recognise the restaurant I had been so fiercely recommended.


Coalshed Brighton
A somewhat disjointed dining experience at a restaurant that may be suffering under the weight of its own hype.
Ease of Booking
  • Decent menu
  • Friendly staff
  • Great atmosphere
  • Paying extra for sauces is quite unnecessary
  • As is paying for side orders
  • Booking cancellation charges
3.8Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)

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