Street Diner, Brighton
The opening of Meat Liquor on London road, which began life as a small street food van in London and reputable pubs taking on street food franchises instead of traditional franchised kitchens is the culmination of a movement that has taken over the popular consciousness and will, I’m sure, continue to grow.
Personally the best aspect of this revolution in city eating has been Street Diner. Starting out just over a year ago, a trip to the market on Friday lunchtimes has been the highlight of my culinary week from day one. I love the interaction that a street food stall allows between customer and chef. The Craft Beer Co. has always placed world class customer service at the top of the priority list so for me this interaction is of vital importance. Of course, I am very happy to eat a gourmet meal in a fine dining establishment should the occasion arise but for me nothing beats the cheery demeanour of a dedicated street vendor sharing their passion with the hungry masses. I love the fact that Christina and Kate, the ladies behind Street Diner, have had the vision and dedication to make sure that the people of Brighton have an alternative option for lunch.
There is also the important consideration that street food stalls bring gourmet food to the common person. Not everyone has the budget for fine dining experiences. Remove the vast majority of overheads that a restaurant setting has to add though and you are left with high quality ingredients at a great price. As the Craft Beer Co. always strives to bring customers the best quality beer from all over the world this also sits perfectly with me.
The organisers of Street Diner have asked me to be a judge for the 2014 Street Food Awards. The regional heats take place at Street Diner on Saturday 14th June. Members of the public can vote on the day by downloading the British Street Food app on their mobile phones. The three vendors with the most votes on the day will go through to the national competition. These vendors work round the clock so you can get your tasty lunchtime fix so please get down there on the day, download the app and support your favourite trader! I, however, have already made my choices.
Little Blue Smokehouse
For the carnivores amongst you, street food doesn’t get much better than this. Offering an array of smoked meats every week with homemade hot sauces, slaws and pickles, this stall has been my number one choice for lunch on many an occasion.
At The Craft Beer Co. we have been working with Martyn to run pop-up kitchens on a monthly basis and it has been an absolute privilege to work with someone so passionate about their offering. Martyn has got to be in the running for the award of the hardest working man in street food! As well as running a lovely pub in Crowborough, Martyn tends the smokers at all hours (all of his meat is smoked for over 10 hours..!) to ensure that his customers get the best quality food. So much love, care and attention goes into everything he does. The meat is of outstanding quality, there is a hot sauce to suit every palette and the homemade pickles and slaw top the whole meal off nicely! You only have to see the crowds that gather come rain or shine at Street Diner to see that I’m not the only person who holds this opinion.
The Troll’s Pantry
I’ll be honest; I have been in love with this business since day one. This stall, I’m sure many of you remember, started life as a van trading next to the Wood Store behind the Blind Tiger Club. I was queuing up for burgers then and have supported Paul with my custom ever since. As well as the outstanding quality of the burgers, I adore the ethos behind this company. All dairy and meat ingredients are of the highest welfare quality and fully traceable to the herd. Local and seasonal produce rules here and as such the specials change according to the seasons. Paul is a keen forager and many of the ingredients in his food are supplied by our natural surroundings. Paul has long been a firm believer in the fact that the best quality food should be available to everyone; perfectly encapsulating the essence of what a street food trader should be all about. The inventive combinations such as ‘The Drunken King’: Asparagus spears, beer & chocolate wild boar bacon, goat’s cheese and wild herb topped patty keep the crowds coming and The Troll’s Pantry is fast becoming a treasured Brighton business; get to Street Diner early to beat the queues for this one!
Whilst the first two nominations came easily to me, the third was a little more difficult to decide upon.
I have been going to Street Diner every Friday consistently for the entire time they have been open. I’ve visited on Saturdays and I’ve walked to The Level and Hove when they have introduced new events. When I was asked to pick from a list of traders I was mindful of the fact that I was nominating vendors to compete on a national level. I spent a long time on my final choice as I was very aware of what this kind of endorsement could mean to someone’s livelihood.
Ultimately, I knew I had to nominate Becky who runs Honeycomb Cakes. She is the trader who gets my custom on the most consistent basis. Everyone I work with and all of my housemates have tried her brownies at my insistence. She is one of the most creative traders I have seen at Street Diner and her infectious enthusiasm and cheery demeanour come rain or shine have made her a firm favourite of mine. Plus, anyone who can combine bacon and fudge with the skill that she can is a winner in my book!
So there you have it; three amazing street food vendors who I believe all thoroughly deserve to compete on a national stage. Good luck guys and see you on the 14th!
Street Diner is held every Friday and Saturday lunchtime in Brighthelm Gardens and Wednesday lunchtimes outside Hove Town Hall. Get there early for the cakes!
The Little Blue Smokehouse can also be found running a pop up kitchen at The Craft Beer Co. 22 Upper North Street, once a month on a Thursday. Please follow us on twitter @craftbeercoBN1 or Facebook – The Craft Beer Co – Brighton to be kept up to date.
The Brighton and Hove Food And Drink Awards are still accepting nominations for your favourite Brighton businesses. You can vote here:
Finally, and most importantly, don’t take my word for it – these traders need your support! Get down to street Diner, try the vast array of food on offer, download the British Street Food app and vote for your own favourite!
Thanks for reading and happy eating!
General Manager, The Craft Beer Co. Brighton