Review - Set of Scales

Review – Set of Scales

I’m not the most fashion conscious person and I would like to think I don’t particularly follow the crowd. Just because someone somewhere is doing something “cool”, that doesn’t mean I have to do it too. Having a sense of individuality is far more interesting, in my opinion.

This is where the slight irony of new dirty diner Set of Scales being set at Artist Residence (a collection of boutique hotels in the South) occurs. The word ‘artist’ can hint at originality, subversiveness and being able to step away from the norm, very little of which Set of Scales adheres to.

Set of Scales is the brainchild of Semone Bonner and Dan Kenny, the two men behind upmarket dining concept The Set. Semone and Dan’s venture at Artist Residence is a double concept, the idea being that The Set is a more formal dining experience and Set of Scales is a relaxed, open to everyone, diner experience. Essentially this gives punters the choice of two: upmarket plates of swanky grub or a down-market diner experience.

Located in the front-half of the dining area, it’s clear that Scales wants to impress and come across as a hip place to be. But trite grey paint, magnetic lettering menus and wooden benches should have been left in Hoxton circa 2005. It felt dated, and incredibly familiar.

Fish sticker books were also placed on the tables.

Fish sticker books were also placed on the tables.

Scales serves – yup, everyone’s already done to death favourite – burgers. Choose from five fish themed burgers and pair with a choice of meatball, cheese or salted fries. Each burger clambers to be more creative than the next with a bizarre array of condiments and fillings.

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Cod Burger

Served on a shiny black plate, the Kentucky fried fillets in the Cod Burger (£9) were overly salty, although the delicate fish was well-cooked and light. The spice from the jalapeños mayo gave the burger a good punch, yet the crispy ham-hock was instantly forgettable.

The coca-cola softened onions were utterly pointless. Far too sweet, they slathered the bun in a thick black oil, making it look like it was spotted in mildew.

The hake burger (£8) was overpowered by the combination of rich BBQ sauce, fennel jam and burnt corn mayo, that oozed out of the burger onto the plate. However, once chunks of fish that weren’t saturated in the sauce combination were retrieved, the thick hake was perfectly cooked.

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The fries were your typical, batch cook from frozen chips. Lightly salted, the side dish was bland, slightly cool in the middle and too dry. Perhaps adding a meatball topping would have brought them to life a bit?

Set of Scales did nothing for me, if anything I was bored. Pandering to out of towners, hipsters and those sticking to their guns, Scales merely follows trends and does nothing to set the world alight. They’ve tried to come across as different and clever but it hasn’t worked.

It’s clear The Set team have bags of imagination and a talent for cooking yet I longed for it to be a bit more original in general. Perhaps back half of the dining room in The Set is where the magic really happens at Artist Residence?

Set of Scales, Artist Residence, 33 Regency Square, Brighton, BN1 2GG 

First printed in the Brighton & Hove Independent on Friday 21st August 2015