Largely under-the-radar chef Duncan Ray cooks up pitch-perfect seafood on a domestic stove
Unless you’re familiar with Brighton & Hove’s restaurant scene you probably haven’t heard of Duncan Ray and The Little Fish Market, although the 40 year old must have the city’s most impressive cheffing CV. He has worked under Marco Pierre White and John Burton Race and – most notably – cooked for four years at The Fat Duck.
The restaurant – which is located on a backstreet near the Brighton-Hove border – is tiny, with around 20 covers. The team is equally diminutive: in fact when The Little Fish Market launched back in 2014 it was just Ray in the kitchen and restaurant manager Ben Whishaw in the dining room. A few more people have joined since, but both are still present each and every service. The airy, double-fronted space is low-budget but carefully looked after, with local art on the walls and a floor the team tiled themselves.
Despite his experience at Heston Blumenthal’s flagship, Ray doesn’t do whizzbang. He is a very traditional chef at heart with a cooking style that’s satisfyingly old school in flavour yet with the light touch necessary for great seafood cookery. The five-or-so course £69 tasting menu includes scallops grilled in the shell topped with chicken béarnaise; sea bream with oysters and charred baby gem; and wild bass with crab and sweetcorn.
Alongside Ray’s flawless cooking, another key draw of the restaurant is Whishaw’s personable service style. How many restaurants can guarantee you’ll be served by the same person no matter when you come?