When I think of Brighton, I think of seagulls. Seagulls, pebbled beaches and the ‘ding ding ding’ of those flashing arcade machines that you can never win anything from. In all its wacky, tacky, retro 60’s glory, Brighton is a wonderful place to visit. And yet despite its stature as the most popular seaside destination in the UK, it has never exactly been renowned for its food.
For years, if you walked along Brighton beach, you’d be faced with stalls selling one of two culinary delights: a paper bag of soggy vinegar-soaked fish and chips or, if you fancied something ‘plus doux’, a Mr. Whippy. But since 2013, Mike Palmer has been mixing things up a little. In one of the fishermen’s arches near King’s Road, you’ll find the Lucky Beach Café. Located pride of place on the seafront, the café could well be another greasily mediocre fish and chip joint or builders café past it’s sell by date – if you didn’t know any better. But venture inside and you’ll find that it’s surprisingly different.
Open all year round, Lucky Beach does the seemingly unheard of- serving local, sustainable and organic produce on a tourist strip in abundance of flakes, cornetto’s and 99’s. It may sound pretentious and a little too ‘London’ for a seaside town, but in the shadow of hundreds of fast food chains, it’s a welcome break. All of the produce is as locally sourced as possible to reduce the café’s footprint and to support local farmers and small businesses. The beef is grass-fed and dry-aged in Sussex, the milk sourced locally from Goodwood Farm, and the eggs, sourdough, pork, chicken and fish are all from Brighton, too. The team even grow their own edible flowers.
Not to mention, their coffee is produced just up the road at Palmer’s accredited roaster, Redroaster, on St James Street. Their signature ‘Maple Shay Shay’, a maple syrup infused iced latte, is saccharine-sweet and the alcohol-free equivalent of an espresso martini. Honeyed, nutty and rich, the sweetness of the maple syrup paired with the bitterness of the coffee provides a rocket fuel sugar-caffeine combo.
Some thought the cafe was positioned all too optimistically on the infamous seafront- after all, the beach is about fish and chips, not sourdough! Ice cream and candyfloss, not matcha and mint juleps! But the food is irrefutably excellent, making it a must-try. For the vegetarian breakfast, the golden eggs are placed lovingly on biting fennel hummus, slathered on thick slices of crusty sourdough and topped with avocado, sriracha, sweet potato, tomatoes, shoots & bee pollen- and my goodness, the ‘My Goodness’ is something else. A breakfast board of yoghurt, pomegranate chia, fresh passionfruit, grilled raspberries and oats with sesame and hemp crumble, dried fruits- with a side of avocado and gomasio sourdough toast, just for the road.
The Lucky Beach Café is a gorgeous little find, with a refreshingly modern focus on sustainable, local produce, gorgeous flavour combinations and a fabulously authentic yet upcycled interior. Head down to Brighton, grab yourself a deck chair and enjoy the view. Just make sure the seagulls don’t get to your sweet potato before you do.