This month Penny heads over to Sussex to investigate the culinary delights of Brighton.
Call me a spoilt Solent softie but I am really not sure about the value in travelling as far east as Brighton and beyond. I know it is a buzzing town with over 800 food options (TripAdvisor) but I probably need to re-visit when the sun is shining and with a happier crew.
The surrounding countryside is stunning though, and I would recommend hiring a bike or taking the bus out to some of the surrounding villages nestling in those glorious green Downs.
However, back to this rocking Regency City where restaurants make their first ‘outside London opening’. There is the favourite Baker & Spice and more obvious Wahaca and Franco Manca but there are some indie gems in those back streets too, so here are just a few recommendations.
Moksha on London Road. This is an independent that has been here for over eight years and is run by Ollie. His girlfriend is vegetarian and so there are some modern twists on the menu that caters for all. We had the stack of blueberry pancakes, perfect scrambled eggs on toast, but the star for both quality and price was the bacon sandwich on sour dough at £3.50 with a fried egg on top for £1. The sourdough lifts all the breakfasts, griddled crisp, adding flavour and sourced just round the corner. All ingredients are as local as possible using Sussex growers for the meat and veg.
Compass Coffee is roasted at Littlehampton, and they have created a smooth Espresso blend called Brighton Lanes that is very easy on the pallet. Order online or try it in Brighton at Moksha, Plateau or Blackbird.
Real Patisserie, just round the corner at 43 Trafalgar Road, is packed with more breads, cakes and savoury delights. We also liked the look of Coffeetzar with its fried egg buns, but Real Patisserie’s glass counter had gleaming apricot, apple and lemon meringue tarts, as well as the afore mentioned sour dough, so we came away with bags bulging for later.
I am also a big fan of afore mentioned Baker & Spice and have visited their Victoria shop many times. They do not bake here in Brighton yet, but fresh breads and so on come down each morning from London. Find them at 40 East Street.
And I would have liked to try Café Plenty, which is newly opened with a cool interior and a micro bakery on-site. Visit them on Circus Parade.
Silo, on the quieter Upper Gardner Street, whose by-line is ‘removing unnecessary processing of food’. There is a flour mill in reception to grind flours used in their breads and t’other side of the entrance to the restaurant is a shiny, hungry, moist and a tad smelly silver box that composts up the unavoidable waste of a restaurant. You are welcome to take some of this home to the garden. We did not have time, or room, to eat here but would love to hear from those of you who have.
Or there is the newly opened Franco Manca. If you fancy a decent wood fired pizza at a competitive price, sour dough base (bit of a theme here…) we liked No 4 – Gloucester Old Spot ham, mozzarella, Buffalo Ricotta and wild mushrooms at £6.70.
Wine sans pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers also rocks my boat. Try it out.
Cocktails: Cocktail Shack, Artist Residence, 34 Regency Square. These guys are fantastic and first came to my attention in Penzance of all places. It is a groovy place to stay if you get chucked off the boat. Rum, yes, and more rum.
Dinner: The Salt Room or 64 Degrees
The Salt Room, opposite West Pier, has a Josper Grill (exciting). Try to hit the pre-theatre or set lunch if you want to feel you have grabbed a bargain. They have excellent seafood and grilled meats. Pre-theatre is £15 for two courses.
64 Degrees, in the Lanes, has been awarded Michelin’s Bib Gourmand two years running and came 24th in the National Restaurant’s Top 100 last year. It has been recommended by many, so is definitely worth a punt.
The search continues, but top recommendations are Burger Brothers (very small seating area), Coggins & Co and Trolls Pantry in the colourful Hobgoblin Pub.
Coggins & Co in Seven Dials would be my first call as owner Andrew chooses top quality local beef from Redlands Farm in Horam, buns from our Real Patisserie and ice cream from Downs View, and the surroundings are a cut above the normal. All burgers are cooked medium and chips come triple fried in either beef dripping or organic vegetable oil. Drinking water is filtered on-site and served in lovely glass bottles – a nice touch. Try the BB burger – mushroom tapenade, Harvey’s rarebit and English mustard mayo £11.50.
www.deliveroo.co.uk is available here, so choose, phone and wait peacefully on the boat.
Best pub for Sunday lunch
There are two choices here, both about nine miles away heading deep into the beautiful Sussex Downs.
First the Shepherd & Dog, in Fulking, at the foot of Devil’s Dyke. It is a cosy, attractive traditional pub with a lot going on and great food.
Dates to note:
15 July: Gin & Jazz
26 Aug: Beer Fest
You join National Cycle Route 2 and there is a bit of a hill near the Dyke Golf Club – 11.5 miles bike ride or 9.5 miles for the more direct walk.
The Half Moon at Plumpton, again about nine miles away, but you can avoid Brighton itself on this route. Another delightful Sussex pub serving good food.
If you want a shorter walk try Busby & Wilds at 9 Rock Street, Kempton. A very civilised pub in a quiet Regency back street a pleasant 20 minute walk along the waterfront from the marina. Great squid and Scotch Egg bar snacks and roasts.
Olly’s little black book
Some additional ideas from Brighton local Olly Rickard:
Best cheese shop, along the seafront at Hove: www.la-cave.co.uk/hb.php
Best brunch/lunch: thenewclubbrighton.com