Brighton has a vibrant local food and drink scene with new venues opening all the time, but with so much choice it can be easy to miss places, especially those that are tucked away off the beaten track. I’ve had my eye on Brighton Food Tours, a small local company who are passionate about promoting local independent businesses, for a while and finally got round to taking one of their tours last weekend. Brighton Food Tours work with over 40 local retailers and producers so every tour is different – the venues may be completely different if you take the tour!
Disclaimer: this tour was not gifted so you can rest assured all opinions are my own.
Our tour cost £40 but lasted over three hours with eight stops which seems like great value-for-money. It’s not a gourmet tour but has a good mix of sweet and savoury, street food and delis to keep most people happy. After a quick introduction from our friendly guide our first stop was the Brighton Sausage Company on Gloucester Road. I’ve been past this shop many times but never been in as I’m a pescetarian and thought they would have nothing for me – I was wrong! We sampled some delicious freshly baked sausage rolls, the prefect balance of flaky pastry and a Cumberland sausage mix (vegan for me) which I would definitely return for! They also sell many different varieties of fresh sausages (plus 5 vegetarian ones) and have a tempting range of olives, mustards, tinned fish and much more.
A ten minute walk took us to the Open Market and Smorls who specialise in the Middle Eastern staples of hummus and falafel as well as salad boxes with freshly made delights including almond tapenade. There’s such a difference between processed supermarket hummus and the real thing – delicious! Also located in the Open Market is the only 100% certified organic chocolatier in the UK, Rainbow Organic Chocolates. The amazing smell when you walk into the store is sure to tempt you to buy some. The owner trained in France and uses typical French techniques to create a wonderful variety of chocolate treats.
From fine chocolate to street food, the tour has a bit of everything and our next stop in the North Laine was a place that regularly rates highly on Tripadvisor and is claimed to be home to some of the best burgers in the UK, Burger Brothers. It’s a tiny hole-in-the-wall place so you’ll be eating your burger out on the street. I was at a disadvantage here as the veggie – I tried the veggie burger which is made of sweet potato, chestnut and broccoli but to be honest I found it a bit bland, could definitely have done with a kick of chilli. But it’s the beef burgers that they are known for which seemed to go down well with everybody else.
Next up was a quick stop at Barney’s Deli, a relatively new business on Kensington Gardens which has only been open for 6 months. Named after the owner’s dog, this specialist cheese shop has a carefully picked variety of cheeses from home and abroad. My favourite discovery was these sourdough crispbread bites from Peter’s Yard – not expensive and perfect with a bit of cheese.
Our penultimate stop was at a Brighton institution, English’s fish and oyster restaurant, which to my shame I’ve never been into despite its great reputation. Downstairs is an oyster bar serving a number of different varieties which you can enjoy with a glass of wine. It’s also known for its fantastic fish – must try it one day. If you love oysters this may be your favourite stop on the tour; if not (like me) you can enjoy a glass of wine!
After all those savoury treats it was time for something sweet to round off the day and where else but Boho Gelato. Well-known to locals and visitors alike, they have over 600 recipes on their books and make small batches of different varieties every day for their two Brighton shops. You’ll have to queue but there is an amazing variety on offer from mango and chilli (delicious) to raspberry shortcake. For me some of the cake-based flavours were a little sweet but that’s just personal taste.
So would I recommend the Brighton Food Tour? Definitely! It was great value-for-money, I was pleasantly surprised by how much we got to sample and the glass of wine included was very welcome. It was good to visit a variety of shops and restaurants and hear a bit more about the story behind the venue- there’s so many people passionate about delivering the best food that Brighton has to offer on this tour.