The UK has been a bit slow to the whole brunch thing, writes Nick Mosley. It’s a meal that – as the word suggests – sits between breakfast and lunch; a leisurely affair that combines the best elements of both and – even better – usually involves a glass or two of bubbles or a cocktail such as a Bloody Mary or Mimosa.
Although brunch can be somewhat of a wild affair – such as the infamous bottomless brunches enjoyed by Western expats in Dubai – it doesn’t have to be crazy. And for many of us, a late breakfast or early lunch of eggs benedict perfectly fits how we choose to live, work and play in a busy world.
Now there are a few eateries in Brighton that can tick the brunch box. The New Club on the bottom of Preston Street and Redroaster on St James Street have long been champions of the format whilst relative newcomer Burnt Orange on Middle Street has made waves in the past year.
Another recent addition is the reinvention of the café space at My Brighton hotel on Jubilee Street in North Laine. Over the past decade the venue has hosted a variety of concepts – ranging from a celebrity chef to a popular local coffee roasters – however the hotel has now taken things in-house and I have to say they’ve made a pretty darn good job of it.
I was joined by my colleague and friend – and esteemed Brighton gastronome – Andrew. We had some work schizz to discuss which – as usual – descended into an hour of lascivious gossip which thankfully was all drowned-out amidst the background bustle of the venue.
Meanwhile Café’s menu is succinct but clearly well thought-out and – pleasingly from my perspective – it’s packed with locally sourced produce. We are really lucky in Sussex to have so many great farmers and producers so putting them at the fore not only means quality food but also reassuringly high levels of provenance and welfare but low food miles.
Eggs are from local chicken farmers, bacon and sausages from the Brighton Sausage Company on Gloucester Road, smoked salmon from Curing Rebels in Portslade, Sussex cheese and charcuterie from Great British Charcuterie, ethically sourced coffee from Brighton-based White Cloud and ice cream from Boho Gelato in Pool Valley. The small but perfectly formed wine list also features sparklers from Henners Vineyard in Herstmonceux, East Sussex and the seemingly unstoppable Fitz charmat-method fizz from West Sussex.
I went for ‘The English’; no prizes for guessing what was on the plate: bacon, sausage, egg, mushrooms, home-made baked beans, tomato, mushroom and sourdough toast. Definitely no complaints on the quality or cooking – although I do prefer a slightly runnier fried egg I’d be nit-picking.
Andrew opted for smoked salmon, potato hash browns, sour cream and chive with a huge portion of scrambled egg. I did have a little dish-envy but there’s no way I was going to get two plates down my neck.
Pricing is reasonable with bacon or sausage butties starting at £5.50 and the most expensive dishes £12. There’s something for everyone with American pancakes for those with a sweet tooth and various vegetarian and vegan options. Filtered still and sparkling water is free - just help yourself from the end for the service area.
As with so many independent hospitality businesses, opening hours are still a little erratic but the venue is open from 7am during the week and from 8am at the weekend. Thursday to Saturday they also open until 11pm with an extended drinks list and tasty platters of locally cured meats and cheeses.
A lot of love has been put into the refurbishment of the space. The interiors are deliciously understated – think made.com – with a variety of seating options including high window tables and comfy couches reflecting how different diners will use the space.
But Meanwhile Café’s biggest unique selling point is the team. From chef jollily cooking away in the open kitchen to the wonderful front of house team who are living proof that a smile costs nothing: they are knowledgable, friendly and eager to please.
All-in-all, this was a really enjoyable informal daytime dining experience and the perfect location to catch up with friends, have a quick meeting or grab a coffee and some laptop time on-the-hoof.
A little birdie tells me that during the Great Escape music festival from 11-14 May they’re throwing in a complimentary margarita cocktail with brunch. So, Meanwhile, I’ll be back soon…
Meanwhile Café, 17 Jubilee Street, Brighton BN1 1GE
01273 900 380, www.meanwhilecafe.com