Gull About Town – food & drink news: Valentine’s Special

Want to do something lovely for Your Loved One? Want to take them Somewhere Special but can’t because it’s locked down? Well, if you can’t go Somewhere Special… maybe Somewhere Special can come to you….

The Gull has spotted a bit of a trend as she swoops through the leafy streets of West Hill and Seven Dials. It seems its food loving residents have been making the most of the survival instincts of the British hospitality industry and calling in their dinner from all over the land.  This is no Deliveroo, but carriages loaded with catering from Britain’s finest. Café Murano: yours to the door. Simon Rogan? Michelin-starred meals on wheels.

As in the bird world, so as in hospitality. When the going gets tough, the tough have a think about how to get going. And if the food lovers can’t get to you, well, you can always get to them.

London husband and wife team, James and Rebecca are used to reinvention. Way back in 2017 they left their jobs and toured Italy with their six-month-old son to learn the authentic way to make fresh pasta. Now, they’re bringing their Nonna Tonda pasta and high-welfare meat sauces, freshly made every morning, to Brighton in a box.

After years of bin duty The Gull is always afeared of a plastic bag of sauce, but the aroma of their pappardelle with pork shoulder and beef shin ragu wafting on the winds outside the Food Editor’s lair recently was enough to make a bird swoon. 

But The Whistler is all about keeping it local and Tom and Rowan Smedley, the young chef brothers who’ve set up their own pasta home delivery service, Forkful near the station have plenty of beef shin and pappardelle to offer too. The wild duck ragu looks like rich pickings at £10 coupled, perhaps, with the burrata with pickled bulls blood beetroot and kate pesto for £6.  The menu changes every week, according to the availability of seasonal produce which, for a bird who cares about the planet, is worth crowing about.

Over at Regency Square, while those attention-seeking starlings are performing to the crowds, The Gull has been following the hampers heading out the back of The Set. Once one of Brighton’s finest night’s out, The Set at Home is now selling weekly box sets of its locally-sourced super high welfare gastro feast classics for £110 for two on a first come, first served basis. Not a bad shout for Valentine’s Day.

While our own Seven Dials Small Batch café is even boxing up an evening menu – peck at the crab fritters with red chilli,⁠ coriander, lime juice and chopped spring onion⁠ with a soy dipping sauce for a delightful evening feed – Brighton’s king of coffee houses, Redroaster is turning the other cheek.  Those masters of resilience have put their Thai evening eaterie, Lucky Khao out to pasture during Lockdown and resurrected instead the good old British pie in a pre-paid meal drop.  Old Great Grandpa Gull’s tales of crusty crumbs and delicate morsels of Sussex beef dropped outside the old Kemptown Pie Shop which sat on its site more than 50 years ago have been passed down through the generations; he’d be so proud to see the gang of young gulls scrapping about at the back of St James’ Street today.

The Gull has been following the sweet-smelling fortunes of Kitgum Kitchen, Brighton’s favourite East African/West Indian restaurant since its street food days at Upper Gardner Street market. Its customers were so gloriously clumsy, juggling their bric-a-brac with a Zanzibar bhaji and crispy Farsi Poori that this poor gull was exhausted by a Saturday evening. Since then, it’s popped up at The Mesmerist, The Signalman, and The Hare and Hounds before finally settling at Preston Road, and it’s not letting Lockdown spoil the ride. heat@home is its latest iteration, delivering to your own oven on Fridays only.

And if you’re loving the Lockdown opportunity to cook at home, The Gull is happy to report a veritable booty of local goodies heading towards Brighton every Tuesday from the best of our neighbouring farms in the new Chef’s Farm food boxes. 

This week, it was High Weald Dairy halloumi and Brighton Blue, fish pie mix from The Fresh Fish Shop, South Downs butter and Sussex Charmer cheese, Hallgate Farm eggs, Brambletye organic apple juice and Goodwood Estate organic beef. Plus, enough celeriac, mushrooms, apples, onions, leeks, cavolo nero and potatoes, still dusty with Sussex mud and nestled in a bed of hay to question whether there even is a hungry gap at this time of the year. Maybe with so little to waste in that little lot, the hungry gap is just for the gulls.

Gull picture from Scribbler cards.