Weekend brunch is one of life’s great pleasures. In a city awash with vegetarian breakfasts, pancake stacks, bottomless brunches and locally-roasted artisan coffee, Brightonians are spoilt for choice when it comes to memorable breakfast experiences. However, in my opinion, The New Club stands out above the rest and delivers on the holy trinity of dining: location, service and, most importantly, food.
Opened in 2013, The New Club was a diamond in the rough of dreary seafront dining spots. Apart from high-end treats such as The Salt Room, Riddle and Finns and Drakes, the greatest culinary offerings on the front (to my memory) were a 24-hour greasy spoon, serving roast dinners and bangers and mash to the drunken masses at 4am, and a glut of mediocre and overpriced fish and chip shops and doughnut stands. It was, therefore, a revelation to stumble upon The New Club at the bottom of Preston Street.
As you walk in, light pours through the tall windows onto a wall displaying a mural of a New York apartment block. The room is also filled with mid-century benches and chairs that give a tasteful nod to an American diner. When the sun is shining, you can sit out on the pavement and enjoy a view of the beloved West Pier. Some may not like the busy traffic, but there is never a dull moment on Brighton seafront, whether it be watching a sash-clad hen party totter past or spotting supercars and vintage motorbikes.
The New Club staff are friendly and happy people who are passionate and knowledgeable about the food they serve. They can talk to you in detail about The New Club’s ethos of serving local seasonal food and making almost everything from scratch (even the bread). The queue outside and packed tables never put me off because the staff seat you quickly and manage to make you feel like they are serving two tables rather than twenty. One example of this was last week when a man on a stag do, who clearly didn’t understand he wasn’t in a pub, dumped his pint on our table and started having a loud conversation about last night’s indiscretions. Despite being run ragged, the waiter managed to move him on without a cross word between them!
The Main Event:
It’s not unheard of for my friends and me to frequent The New Club twice in one weekend. The menu never gets boring because, beyond the highly-acclaimed burgers and cool twists on American classics, there is a weekly specials menu which reflects the tastiest food trends of the moment. I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the ‘dirty burger’ – topped with hickory smoked onion & bacon relish and Monterey Jack cheese, satay-glazed halloumi salad and soft shell crab tacos with pineapple chutney and wasabi aioli (my mouth is watering just typing this sentence). But, for me, the brunch menu is where it’s really at.
You can quench your thirst and quell your hangover with the late-morning cocktail menu which markets itself as ‘Hangover Cures and ‘Hard’ Brunch Beverages’. You will find everything from a cucumber and elderflower fizz to a bacon Bloody Mary. I personally prefer a coffee and some eggs to sort me out, but all whims can be attended to here.
Sometimes reading a menu is like poetry to me so, to leave you feeling hungry, here are my favourite breakfast vignettes:
- Mexican Baked Eggs served with sriracha, cheese, caramelised corn & pepper salsa, sour cream, spring onions and crispy corn tortillas. You can add a dollop of smashed avocado or some grilled chorizo to top it all off. This is one of the more indulgent breakfasts on the menu, but well worth it for the comforting cheesy goodness.
- Pea Pancakes & Smoked Salmon served with poached egg, pea shoot salad and herb cream cheese. The pancakes had little blobs of ricotta cooked into them and cream cheese was laced with tarragon to give it a beautiful depth of flavour.
- Truffle Mushroom Omelette served with deep-fried Camembert and a balsamic reduction. This dish was perfectly balanced with the delicate truffle oil and ripe and crispy Camembert oozing onto the bread.