Another craft beer pub is just what we need... Is the new Seven Stars any different to the rest?
The Little Blue Smokehouse @ The Seven Stars, Brighton Review
The rise of craft beer has been a swift and unstoppable one. So much so that it now seems harder to get a pint of Fosters than a pint of Gamma Ray, so when I heard about The Seven Stars’ rather predictable focus on craft beer I wasn’t exactly excited.
One of the great things about Brighton is its individuality. The individuality of its shops, restaurants, pubs and of course, people. So Indigo Pub Company’s decision to renovate most of their portfolio, which includes The Hare and Hounds, The Cow and The Temple Bar to be almost indistinguishable in their look and drink offering just feels a bit wrong.
Firstly, I love craft beer and with Brighton’s very own BrewDog bar being put together as we speak you can guarantee it’s here to stay. And secondly, the renovations have all greatly improved the venues in question and as well as all new drinks offerings, the food at these pubs is now much, much more interesting and at a much higher level thanks to residencies from some of Brighton’s street food royalty.
You’ll find La Choza at The Hare and Hounds, Curry Leaf Cafe at The Temple Bar, Carlito Buritto at The Cow and Street Diner regulars, The Little Blue Smokehouse here at The Seven Stars. Whoever put these partnerships together deserves a lot of credit.
Winners of the People’s Choice award at the British Street Food awards 2014, The Little Blue Smokehouse started as a small operation making smoked salmon and bacon before joining Street Diner, where they showcase smoked meats, homemade slaws, sauces and pickles.
As well as all that craft beer, The Seven Stars also boasts a great range of spirits along side 6 Sipsmith based in-house infusions all priced at £7, including the lovely Factor Fiftini – Sipsmith Summercup shaken with Ginger syrup, lemon and bitters, which was right up my street as a whiskey sour fan.
I was invited down by John Purchese, who oversees the Seven Stars, Hobgoblin and Hare and Hounds to check it all out and took Mrs Foodie Brighton along for the Gin and BBQ fuelled ride.
We arrived early on a Friday night to find that the pub was already filling up nicely. The layout works well here with small tables allowing plenty of standing space near the entrance and large booths at the back of the space under a large glass ceiling, which will keep the back of the pub light during even the gloomiest of days.
The friendly manager, Marina had reserved us a table far smaller than our appetites, which we had a couple of GinTinis brought over to whilst we started looking over one of the most mouth-watering and exciting BBQ menus I’ve read for a long while.
By the time I’d reached the end of the first section of the menu – ‘Small Plates’, I already wanted 6 dishes, including Mac n Cheese Bites (£4.50) with bacon jam and bacon ranch dressing and the Crispy Squid (£5.25) with Nduja and smoked white beans.
I’ll leave you the pleasure of reading the full menu for yourself here but we eventually settled on the Korean Fried Chicken Wings (£5.25), which certainly lived up my standards with their crispy coating and thick, spicy Gochujang based sauce and the Smoked Pig’s Head Fritters with piccalilli (£4.95), which reminded me of the Shortrib Nuggets at Hawksmoor Spitalfields Bar (but without the gooey cheese centre). Still very tasty fritters though with a good piccalilli to cut through some of the tasty fat.
As we made our way down the menu, there was again far too much I wanted to try including the Smoked & Pickled Beetroot Salad (£9.95) – burrata, apple leather, horseradish vinaigrette and the Smoked Confit Duck Hash (£10.95) with kimchi and a fried egg.
I find it incredibly hard to turn down ribs, so I didn’t. My choice was the Sussex pork Chargrilled Smoked Belly Ribs (£12.00) with slaw & pickle – dry rubbed and left for 24hrs before being smoked for 10hrs, which came as two large slabs that begged to be picked up and demolished. I felt They could have been a bit more tender but the flavour was fantastic, with plenty of smoke coming through the meat and gorgeous bark on the outside.
Mrs Foodie Brighton had the Chopped Brisket (£7.25) with sourdough, Little Red hot sauce slaw and pickle, which undergoes the same process as the ribs but is smoked for anything between 10 and 18hrs and was very reasonably priced given the portion size. Again, plenty of lovely flavours came through the brisket but she felt it could have a bit juicier. I’m also not sure all that bread was necessary!
The light slaw and pickles with both our mains were very nice and certainly helped our arteries out a bit. The Kimchi Cheese Fries (£5.50) on the other hand did nothing positive for our health whatsoever…
Made with Kimchi that has been caramelised with red onions, light soy, sesame oil and brown sugar – based on a dish Martyn from TLBS had in New York a few years back and topped with melted cheese they tasted very little like Kimchi but who cares? They were DELICIOUS. The combination of crisp fries, caramelised onions and Kimchi, that rich sauce and gooey cheese was so moreish and would be a cracking hangover dish.
We struggled to finish everything, which considering our food bill would have only come to £35 reflects great value. All of our cocktails were very nice as well, although I’d save the Rhub-My-Tini (£7), with its Shortbread rim to go with your dessert!
We really enjoyed our evening at The Seven Stars – the central location is very handy, the atmosphere and service is friendly and The Little Blue Smokehouse is serving up comfortably some of the best BBQ in town. I can’t wait to come back and make my way through some more of that delicious menu.
I dined as a guest of Little Blue Smokehouse but as always, the words and thoughts are my own.
|Korean Fried Chicken Wings||£5.25|
|Smoked Pigs Head Fritters||£4.95|
|Chargrilled Smoked Belly Ribs||£12.00|
|Kimchi Cheese Fries||£5.50|
27 Ship Street,
Brighton BN1 1AD