2015 saw a fairly seismic shift in Brighton's food and drink scene, and 2016 started with quite a few losses as well as some gains.
early January, Dermot O'Leary's cosy Fishy
Fishy closed after 7 years in East Street (the old Al Forno restaurant if
you're Brightonian enough to remember it!) along with its sister branch in
Poole. The Radio 2 presenter blamed the
"current financial climate" on the closures. Strada
branch departed from its prestigious New Road/North Street corner site and independent
B&R tea shop left Trafalgar Street.
In Kemptown it seemed to be all change:- Roger and Glynis Cross closed The Cafe at Lower Rock Gardens after almost 35 years; Little Thai Prince that became Flo's went; The Restaurant with No Name that became The Townhouse became Spanish tapas restaurant La Vendimia; superb specialist fishmonger O'Fishly Healthy sadly bit the dust; Betty La La's, the latest guise for 22 St James's Street finally closed its doors on 2 January.
On the takeaway side of the food industry, Forfars, Brighton's oldest and much-loved bakery owned by the Cutress family, went into liquidation after 198 years serving bread and cakes to Sussex.
On the plus side, Brighton's gains have been exciting so far:-
At 97 Trafalgar Street the intriguing Coffee Tzar replaces B&R Tearoom (review to follow shortly). The old Strada building, vacated in November 2015, will soon have Brighton sampling the Mexican delights of Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers's mini-chain Wahaca. And why wouldn't we embrace this, seeing as Restaurant Magazine has hailed 2016 as "The Year of the Taco"!
the end of November, and already with a massive foodie following, animal-free
zone Italian pizzeria Purezza arrived at the bottom of St James's Street - for
the lactose intolerant, gluten intolerant, vegetarian and vegan alike. Kor-pan,
a Korean Japanese fusion streetfood takeway in Brighton Open Market, opened at
Unit 32 by Mi Stammer has also proved an instant hit. The
final licks of paint have been applied to the walls for the opening of Buon
Appetito's third Campania family-run Italian restaurant (with restaurants currently
in Hove and Burgess Hill) this week in the old Betty La La's in St James's
A new specialist Spanish delicatessen will be opening soon on the corner of Trafalgar Street and London Road (on the site of the pawn shop, opposite Domino's).
Dry January is over. Drink anyone? In December, the Seven Dials area welcomed Seven Cellars independent wine merchant to 104 Dyke Road.
Finally, Bison Beer look set to transform The Bison Arms' concept into a reality following a mystery donor's generous £10,000 pledge last week that helped them to reach their £100,000 goal against Burger King's pitch for the prime seafront site at 80 East Street.
What is always exciting in Brighton is the diversity of what we have on offer in our great city, and Brighton's determination to keep it so!
We are the new editors at Taste of Brighton and we'd like to hear from anyone with news around Brighton, Hove and Sussex of interesting openings, unexpected closures, specialists that you would like to see us focus on in these pages.
Happy New Year!
Trevor & Judith
Editors, Taste of Brighton