Vicky Meets… Charlie Smyth and Sam Vickery, Pallant Restaurant Photo credit: Rachel Poulton

Charlie Smyth and Sam Vickery, Pallant Restaurant.Photo credit: Rachel Poulton
Charlie Smyth and Sam Vickery, Pallant Restaurant.Photo credit: Rachel Poulton

Mindful about our red meat consumption nowadays, apply the rule of quality over quantity and carnivores can still enjoy an occasional steak.

“We set up Friday and Saturday nights to include a menu that we hope to gradually grow into a Steak Club,” explained Charlie, General Manager at Pallant restaurant, which is located on the ground floor of the world-famous Pallant House Gallery.

“We decided to specialise because of our chef Sam’s reputation for excellent steaks and because they are something of a benchmark for price and quality. We work with our local butcher to offer a menu of great cuts and we advise diners on the best way to have their meat cooked. Our aim is to build a following of people who really love good steak and to make eating out into an experience for them; a special event.”

Working in hospitality since his teens, Charlie confessed that he has inherited his love of food from his dad.

“As a child I remember him finishing work and coming home and cooking for pleasure. He’s a great cook and is still cooking for me now!” he laughed, adding: “My passion is for great quality food and drink; planning it and presenting it. I just love exploring food.”

Showing me into the pretty walled courtyard garden while talking me through the menu (“we still cater for vegetarians and being by the sea we do serve a lot of fish”), Charlie explained that al fresco drinks served with Cicchetti [Italian tapas] is increasing in popularity as the weather warms up.

“But if you want to sit in the garden with a book and just have a glass of prosecco or a cup of coffee, that’s fine. The leaves make a canopy over you and on a sunny day it feels like being abroad, which is lovely.”

As for Head Chef Sam, while he hopes to give Steak Night diners a great meal and for them to learn more about their food, he is also on a mission to create culinary masterpieces to thrill all taste buds.

“Uptake for Steak Nights is really good, but it’s like a pop-up exhibition in a gallery; we’re showcasing steaks, but we still offer a full menu,” he said, adding that the restaurant works with the gallery but is a separate entity, with its own entrance and opening hours.

Originally training as a PE teacher and working in kitchens while at Chichester University, Sam doesn’t regret changing career.

“I enjoy catering so much. Mum was a really good cook – we never had a boring meal when I was a child – so I guess that’s where I get it from.”

A fan of using seasonal and local produce, he also acknowledges that not everyone feels confident cooking steak.

“If you do, make sure that you rest it,” he advised. “Leave it for as long as you cook it and let those juices flow.”

Hmm. I think I’ll just book a table…

Pallant Restaurant: www.pallantrestaurantandcafe.co.uk