The Little Blue Smokehouse recently took over the kitchen at the newly re-vamped Seven Stars pub in the lanes. It was only a matter of time before a craft beer establishment snapped them up. I doubt there is anything else that compliments an ale better than smokey, deep flavoured, slow cooked meat. The Little Blue Smokehouse started out as a small operation a few years ago, smoking salmon and bacon and then moved on to Brighton’s Street Diner where they serve an impressive array or smoked meats, homemade slaws, sauces and pickles. I have never been to Street Diner and not seen a huge queue, so the prospect of putting in an order, sitting down in a pub and ordering a great beer as an accompaniment, was a no brainer for me.
The interior of the pub has an industrial yet cosy feel and there is plenty of space with large caged booths at the back for big groups. There is a large range of cask and keg beers, most of which are going to work well with the food being served.
If you are looking for a deeply comforting, meat-based menu then you need to look no further. The menu is split into small plates, plates, comfort/hangover food, sandwiches and sides. With small plates for under a fiver, you can do a tapas style mix and match. Try sourdough, BBQ butter and BBQ gravy dripping, mac n cheese bites, bacon jam & bacon ranch dressing or smoked pigs heads fritters with piccalilli. Large plates at around the £10-13 range offer chargrilled smoked belly of rib, slaw and pickle or smoked confit duck hash, kimchi and fried egg.
Amongst this orgy of slow cooked meats are a few well thought out, delicious looking vegetarian dishes; a small plate of deep fried pickle with chipotle aioli and for large plates, smoked & pickled beetroot salad, burrata, apple leather and vinaigrette or smoked bean cassoulet, roasted roots and potato scone. A great excuse to come back with my veggie friends at a later date.
We ate crispy squid, Nduja and smoked white beans (£5.25), smokehouse brisket chilli, cheese and sourdough (£6.95), pulled pork roll, house BBQ and slaw (£6.95) and jalapeno cheddar cornbread. The crispy squid and Nduja (spicy sausage) work great together, brace yourself though for some unexpected chilli heat. The robust flavours of the smokehouse brisket chilli were melt in the mouth and very comforting. Even with my appetite and dislike of leftovers, the extremely liberal portions for both this and the pulled pork sandwich, were going to be a challenge. The hunk of sourdough that accompanied the chilli was made redundant by the Jalapeño cheddar cornbread - a lovely combination. Being a big fan of cornbread, I liked the hint of warmth from the chilli and the fruity finish from the cheddar which gives you a delicious range of flavour to enjoy. By the time we got to the pulled pork sandwich I was nearing the end of my capacity. Again, comforting slow cooked pork with the sweet bbq flavour. The sharp acidity of the gherkin contrasting and complementing the rich flavour of the pork. If you are looking to take the flavour experience to the next level, for beers, try a Beavertown Smog Rocket with the brisket chilli or a Neck Oil with the pulled pork.
I headed back there the following Sunday with The Brighton Ale Club for a beer brunch. I now had high expectations for the breakfast hash options, imagining they would lovingly hold your hangovers hand, the large portions lulling you back into a restorative sleep. Disappointingly, the portions were on the small side. The group chose either the brisket hash or the halloumi hash (which actually contained very little halloumi). Both of which were £9 and you would hope, be struggling to finish. Sadly we all left a little unsatisfied, however, the full English on the next table looked pretty substantial and perhaps a better option if you are hungry.
I will definitely be eating here again, probably ordering less in the evening and more in the morning. As the nights set in and autumn returns once again, do go and console yourself at the Seven Stars, arrive hungry or hungover.
27 Ship Street