Table talk: The British seaside caff that's not at all naff
Brighton certainly has its eco side, but you might not expect to find it on the historic seafront. Kathleen Steeden finds an organic, vegan friendly, sustainable wonder in the shape of seaside cafe, Lucky Beach. Are its burgers the best in town?
Wed 24 Jan 2018
Brighton’s seaside strip is better known for its holiday atmosphere than its food scene, which is dominated (with a few notable exceptions) by sub-par chippies and run-of-the-mill burger bars.
It's quintessential British seaside fare, and has its place, especially in the summer months when the promenade heaves with out-of-towners.
But ask any local where they’d recommend for a meal on the beachfront and it’s highly likely that they’ll point you in the direction of Lucky Beach, a sustainably run cafe where the food is as remarkable as the sea view.
At first glance the menu seems to offer a typical selection of breakfasts, burgers, wraps and fish and chips. A closer look, however, reveals that a lot of care and creativity has gone into making these cafe favourites distinctive.
It’s the little extra touches here – slippery pickled enoki mushrooms dotted on the plate or a dollop of vivid sweet pea guacamole – that elevate the dishes. Clearly the team behind Lucky Beach don’t believe that garnishes should feel superfluous.
The restaurant’s burgers, made from organic grass-fed Sussex beef, have earned Lucky Beach a place in many a best burger list. But vegetarian and vegan dishes are also given generous attention. The veggie burger on the day that we visit consists of salty, crisp-fried paneer with crushed curried peas, chilli sauce and a spicy cumin mayo.
The vegan hippy dip wrap is stuffed with roasted sweet potato and crisp pickled veg, and accompanied with a sweet red pepper sauce for dipping. It’s nutritious food that avoids feeling worthy.
At the less wholesome end of the spectrum sit the lobster Thermidor fries which, with their flakes of sweet lobster meat and oozy cheesy sauce, take ‘indulgent toppings for chips’ to the next level.
It’s rare that a drinks list provokes as much enthusiasm as the food menu; rarer still that a restaurant’s selection of non-alcoholic drinks is particularly notable. Not here. Alongside a good selection of local beers, ciders and summery cocktails, the restaurant has an impressive list of pimped-up sodas flavoured with homemade fruit syrups. A favourite is the fierce and fiery ginger limeade, which is garnished with a whole chopped chilli to set tongues tingling.
The hot drinks, too, are a cut above average. Coffee comes from the cafe's own organic-accredited roastery and the menu features a great list of dairy-free drinks (the dubiously named ‘wellness lattes’), including an enticingly sweet and aromatic coconut cardamom chai.
Lucky Beach may be hipper than the average seaside caff, but it’s still a chilled-out beach bar at heart. Expect to find a higher proportion of local Brighton folk than at many other seafront venues and come prepared to want to linger.
The veggie burger on the day that we visit consists of salty, crisp-fried paneer with crushed curried peas, chilli sauce and a spicy cumin mayo
The sustainability bit
Nearly all of the food is organic and sourced from local suppliers, a large portion of the menu is veggie or vegan, and all of the fish the restaurant uses is MSC certified, with most of it landed by small fishing boats off the coast of neighbouring Shoreham-by-Sea.
Staff are also serious about giving back. Last year they raised £8,000 to build a school in the Rwandan village where they source their coffee beans and in October last year they donated all wages and 100% of sales for a day towards funding construction of a new medical centre for the community. This commitment has paid off.
In 2017 Lucky Beach was announced as the People's Favourite in the Sustainable Restaurant Association's Food Made Good Awards.
When to go
Obviously its prime seafront location means that the restaurant comes into its own when the sun’s shining and people flock to take advantage of its beachside terrace. But the cafe shouldn’t be overlooked as a prime winter venue too. Lucky Beach is open until sunset throughout the colder months and the upstairs seats offer views of the iconic West Pier – ideal for cosying up with a coffee and a book on dramatic stormy days.
Where is Lucky Beach?
Sandwiched in between a surf shop and one of Brighton’s student-friendly nightclubs, Lucky Beach has a prime spot in one of the old Fishermen’s arches.
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