Brighton is known as a place for all things hedonistic. A town that will celebrate the opening of an envelope. A place where every whim and fancy can be met and usually covered in sequins and tassels. And if your whim is artisanal bread and a selection of pastries, then I’ve braved the carbs and sought out the best, the beautiful and the downright most Brightonest bakeries and cafes.
One of the original independent bakeries, Real Patisserie now have 5 sites across Brighton and Hove, all run completely self-sufficiently. Whilst there are common themes, each shop has their own onsite kitchen and highly trained team so this is not a chain but more of a collective group of baking superheroes. They create wonderful wedding creations and I can recommend the croque-en-bouche for a tasty alternative to a 3 tier cake or the ubiquitous cupcakes or if you want to hold a tea party without the effort, then their party food option will leave you sipping prosecco whilst someone else labours over a second prove. The Kemptown shop hold regular informal classes so you can practice your perfect focaccia and rye breads as well as enjoy a lunch. So it’s up to you, either grab your pinny and bake up a storm… or simply pick up a few freshly baked croissants, wander down to the seafront and have a gentle start to the day.
Initially situated in the North Laine of Brighton,The Flower Pot Bakery is a great little spot for watching the weird and the wonderful stroll by whilst supping on a flat white. Having started out as suppliers to other local food heroes, Small Batch, TFPB has gone from strength to strength. Whilst they have a number of locations across Brighton and Hove, the North Laine one always brings a smile to my face. Who couldn’t love a sunny Saturday afternoon munching down on a sourdough baguette whilst a skateboarding dog whizzes past or revelling in a salted caramel and popcorn cake accompanied by Fozzy Bear playing the piano (he’s great and he does weddings, christenings and bar mitzvahs!)? TFPB offers a wide selection of freshly baked speciality breads and cakes that will satisfy even the most particular of palettes and your instagram followers will thank you for the ever changing scenery.
Tapioca and rice bap, anyone? I know. It’s what you never knew you always wanted. The Grand Daddy of the Brighton food scene, Infinity Foods has been supplying ethically sourced vegetarian and vegan foods since 1971. A collective that gives a proportion of their profits to charity, Infinity has both a large store with an instore bakery, operating since 1976, as well as a café, both situated in the North Laine. The bakery offers a large selection of vegan and gluten free options – the vegan sausage rolls are particularly flakey. There are daily speciality breads and goodies. The shortbread has become my nemesis and means that I spend an inordinate amount on Spanx. Head on over to the café and you’ll find a wide range of tempting treats with plenty of outdoor seating. And if you’ve ever thought, “where can I get a vegan Chelsea bun the size of my head?” well, now you know.
Your old school classic, Truffles is the sort of bakers that you want on your everyday high street. George Street in Hove has an early opening to help all the bleary eyed commuters with a cup of tea and a bacon turnover. There are stores all over Sussex and all the staples are on show: flapjacks, brownies, gingerbread men, eclairs, iced buns etc. They do a good selection of breads and the cheese straws are pretty good. What I really love about this particular branch though is their challah. Super soft and sweet, it’s a real delight but make sure that you get there early on a Friday morning to get the pick of the selection. It may not be achingly trendy but sometimes you just want a strong cuppa and a flapjack that will fill you for 3 days. Go on, you can do it. Just eat the bun.
Based on the London Road but with rumblings of more stores on the way, HiSbe is a social enterprise that “puts happiness before profits.” That’s as may be but this is no mung bean, dingy store... OK, they sell mung beans but that’s not the point. They also have a dispenser of giant dark chocolate buttons. Let’s focus on that. The bread however is brought in from Flint Owl Bakery based in Lewes and includes my favourite bread product ever. Steady yourself. Rosemary and sea-salt sourdough. Let that sink in. Rosemary and sea-salt sourdough. It’s as great as it sounds and I recommend that whilst you’re in store, pick up some large free range eggs so that when you get home, you can toast the bread and have a friend egg on it. Whilst you’re at it, if you’re an out of towner, you might want to pick up a Brighton season ticket as once tried, you’ll be fated to return again and again for another fix. Yes, you’ll even face the trauma of Southern for this bread. Really.
Primarily a high quality coffee shop, this place has a great little seating nook at the back, perfect for secret assignations. What marks it out for special attention though amongst the huge variety that are on offer in Brighton is the creative and unique vegan options. The one that really deserve special attention are the Vegan Snickers. I have no idea how they do this but they are vegan, gluten free and suger free but unlike other cardboard tasting free options, they are most definitely not fun-free. They are the sort of cake that covers your fingers and face with the most glorious sweet concoction that gives you the tingle of pleasure that should only be had behind closed doors. Bedroom doors. Other vegan options use avocado to ensure creaminess and there are chia seed puddings to salivate over. As you’d expect, there are plenty of non-dairy milk options to accompany a dizzying array of coffee options but, frankly who cares? There’s Vegan Snickers to be ate.
Macrons anyone? Everyone may sell macrons now but in Brighton, it’s Julien Plumart that really does them. 2 stores, one handily on the road that leads down from the station and the other in the centre of the city, have a wide selection in every colour and flavour, chocolate, pistachio, orange, strawberry, the list goes on and on. If you develop an unhealthy affection for them, don’t worry, you can order them online and have them delivered to your bed. Well, probably not your bed but you know, you could always leave the front door open and tempt the postman in. But that’s probably your business rather than mine. And if macrons is not your thing, then there is a blueberry eclair with your name on it. Well actually, it has my name on. Most weekends in fact. Celebratory cakes and afternoon teas are also on offer but make sure that you phone ahead.