EACH year brings new trends in food and drink and Brighton and Hove and the rest of Sussex is always at the forefront of innovation when it comes to hospitality.

Today NICK MOSLEY looks at what we can expect for 2020 so that you can talk with authority to family and friends about what they might want to try this year.

So read on and impress your friends when you visit the new Shelter Hall building on the seafront this summer, telling them all about pulled jackfruit, octopus sausages and ‘hard seltzer’ beverages.

Food halls

The Argus:

Brighton’s food and drink scene can rightly claim to be at the cutting edge of what’s happening in the UK, yet one trend that has passed us by has been the Food Hall.

Essentially a communal dining space with lots of different food stands and a shared bar, it’s a dining and social concept that resonates particularly with Millennials and can already be found in major cities across the UK and Europe.

Brighton’s newly refurbished Shelter Hall on King’s Road will be opening under the name of Sessions Market food hall in 2020.

“Food halls are certainly a current UK trend with new ones opening every few months”, said Olivia Reid of Sessions Market.

“This is partly reflective of the desire for variety and lifestyle choices but also alternative eating, social and sharing attitudes and cost; food halls offer something to all and within a budget, upgrade as you wish”.“

As a concept they are also a platform for independent chefs and new concepts to flourish without the financial risk of their own site yet. This combined with local and sustainable sourcing makes them a very hot trend and definitely one that Brighton will embrace this summer when Sessions Market opens on the seafront”.

What to look for: start-up chefs and entrepreneurs, locally sourced ingredients, stands that don’t sell burgers.

Ethics, sustainability and buying British

The Argus:

Brighton and Sussex chefs have consistently been forward thinking about sustainability and food ethics but increased awareness on climate change alongside witnessing extreme weather episodes here in the UK has firmly put these issues on the map, and on the menu.

“I think people will continue to look at more sustainable food sources that are produced in ethical ways”, said Steven Edwards of Etch on Church Road, Hove.

Buying local will be a key element of this trend and fortunately for consumers this is becoming easier particularly with food and drink retailers in the city centre.

“I think eating ethically will go stronger”, agrees Dan Kenny of The Set in Regency Square.

“People being more aware of local nurseries, farmers and fishmongers and hopefully buying direct rather than from supermarkets. Also more of an emphasis on eating out at independent and establishments that follow the same code with proper produce.”

George Thomas of Isaac At in Gloucester Street, Brighton, said: “Restaurants are going to have to adapt and introduce new, more local, even homegrown ingredients to keep costs down. We’re in a good position as all our ingredients are already sourced as close to the restaurant as possible and we grow a lot of our own herbs and garnishes”.

Brighton Gin producer Kathy Caton, pictured, strongly believes in consumers understanding not only the ethics of their business but also a clear narrative.

She said: “People’s interest in provenance and the stories and people behind their food and drink will continue - with people increasingly choosing to consume – or rather, throw away – less, but better”.

With the cogs of Westminster finally moving in the same direction, Brexit will have an impact on the food and drink that we buy from home and abroad over the coming year,

“Buying British inevitably lowers the environmental impact of getting produce from farm to fork”, said drinks consultant Miriam Watson. “Whether its locally made wine and beer, or vegetables and meat from UK farmers, we’ll be reducing food miles and will have a better idea of the provenance of ingredients. We’ll be seeing a lot more British food on our plates”.

What to look for: restaurants using the entirety of animals and plants (not just the traditionally prime parts), waiting staff who have knowledge of the product, restaurants who explicitly support local producers, buying British at retailers.

Picture by Liz Finlayson/Vervate

Brighton Gin portraits on Brighton Beach

Levantine cuisine

The Argus:

2019 was very much about Pacific rim fusion dishes ranging from Peru to the Philippines via Polynesia. For 2020 we’ll be moving slightly closer to home with influences from the historical Levant region that geographically encapsulates Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Palestine with wider influences from North Africa and Turkey.

Brighton has a plethora of independent family-owned Levantine cuisine restaurants with Kambis, A Taste of Sahara, Shiraz and Shandiz alongside a host of others along Western Road and Church Road alone.

A new opening to watch for is 640 East in Upper Gardner Street. The kitchen is headed up by chef Oliver Hassan who’s menu will be inspired in part by his Middle-Eastern roots.

“I’m really excited to be able to bring my heritage into the dishes at 640 East, packed with big flavours”, said Oliver.

“We’re working with some incredible suppliers from here in Sussex, to be able to bring the best quality produce to our diners - working directly with producers will allow us to be really creative with our dishes, changing with the seasons”.

What to look for: ‘proper’ kebabs, pomegranate, Baharat mixed spice, lemon, lots of small plate dining.

Picture: Karoliina Helosuo

Open fire cooking

The Argus:

While many chefs are now opting for induction hobs which allow them to have greater control of the cooking process, we’re starting to see fire cooking return particularly in open kitchens so guests can enjoy the theatre. The Salt Room and The Coal Shed in Brighton have long been champions of the Josper oven – a super hot oven and grill fired by charcoal to give a delicious depth of flavour.With the strap-line of “Land, Sea, Fire”, new restaurant Kindling on East Street is putting fire firmly at the heart of its menu. Owned and operated by former owners of Food for Friends, Jane and Ramin Mostowfi, expect fresh, local, seasonal and minimally processed ingredients.

What to look for: dishes that are cooked to perfection as cooking on an open fire is a definite learned skill.

Plant-based alternatives

The Argus:

Plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy are no longer considered a trend, they are very much in the mainstream and here to stay. Both vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise, whilst many people are taking a flexitarian approach to eating by having some meat-free days each week.

“Meat will increasingly become a treat”, said Linda Whitfield of Semolina on Baker Street, Brighton.

“Plants are becoming the focus of dishes”.

Sam Pryor of Fourth & Church on Church Road, Hove, added.

“There is no doubt that the trend to reduce the meat intake in people’s diets will continue into and beyond 2020.”

“And that is for both environmental and health reasons. Chefs will improve old and new techniques to develop and advance flavour in vegetables, nuts and pulses. Umami flavours that are prevalent in meat will be enhanced through lacto-fermentation and koji curing of plant products”.

“The vegan trend is gaining huge momentum and looks set to get into an even higher gear in 2020”, said Euan Sey of Curry Leaf Café in Ship Street (pictured).

“We have standalone vegan menus at both our restaurants. With such a rich heritage of vegan and vegetarian recipes to call on from Indian cuisine, we don’t see the need to offer meat substitutes on our menu. But they’ll be pretty much essential on more mainstream food offers”.

What to look for: pulled jackfruit, green leaf vegetables and sea greens, fermentation.

Instagrammable food

The Argus:

The trend for sharing food images, particularly via Instagram, continues to explode. Chefs and restaurateurs are increasingly aware of this, and are plating their dishes accordingly, in the full knowledge that it’s the kind of publicity that can make or break their business.

“We’ve always eaten with our eyes first, but restaurants are becoming more aware that social media presence impacts their success”, say’s Brighton’s Fran Villani, pictured, who can rightly claim to be the city’s foremost food blogger under the name The Graphic Foodie.

“With almost every diner whipping out their phones to snap their dish before diving in, presentation and flourishes have become more inventive and vivid. Even restaurant lighting is becoming key to make sure food is looking good for the ‘gram”.

What to look for: handmade tableware, visual exotic fruits such as starfruit and physalis, interactive food and drink at the table, remember to “Tweet Before You Eat”.

Picture: Portrait & Fashion Photography

Wine & Spirits

The Argus:

Despite talk of 2020 being the year of rum, gin is still going to cling onto its crown as the UK’s most popular spirit.

“The gin bubble will continue to bounce along for 2020”, said Zoe Cunliffe of Brighton’s Mixology Group.

“But last year saw a huge rise in the no and low alcohol sector and this looks set to gain more traction in 2020”.

From the US, one to watch is ‘hard seltzer’ beverages. Combining an alcohol level of 5 per cent with flavoured sparkling waters, these pre-packaged single serve drinks come in at around 100 calories making them attractive to the 30-plus market who still want to party but avoid the belly.

English wine continues to gain both international acclaim and consumer market penetration in the UK. The Waitrose Cellar website currently features 94 English and Welsh wines, meanwhile local vintners including Butlers Wine Cellar in Queens Park Road have been promoting the Sussex wine industry since its inception.

“After all the recognition for English wine in the last year, we’re going to see people looking a lot closer to home for good wine”, said Alex Preston from Isaac At in Gloucester Street.

“We’ve always championed English wine, so for us it’s about continuing with the education and making sure our guests know that they will find award-winning wine when they come into the restaurant, which is often made here on our doorstep in Sussex.”

In the wider world of wine, there are plenty of trends in the global marketplace.

“Organic and biodynamic wines continue to make in-roads”, said Cassie Gould of Butlers Wine Cellar, pictured.

“Eastern European wines will become more of a thing, and I think we’ll see a lot more pink drinks. Canned wines will be big, and Cava from Spain will make a resurgence, which it should because its excellent”.

What to look for: UK produced rums, Sussex rosé wines, wines from emerging regions, no alcohol and low alcohol spirits and drinks with all the flavour, hard seltzers, entry-level Cava is typically better quality than Prosecco.


The Argus:

Originating in Australia, the concept of Seacuterie is going to hit the UK restaurant and bar scene hard in 2020. Taking fruits de mer to the next level, the trend involves fermenting, smoking and pickling seafood, and serving up on shared plates.

From Scottish smoked salmon to the English smoked kipper, via olive oil preserved sardines and pickled herring rollmops, the curing of fish and seafood isn’t exactly a new thing but it’s definitely making mackerel sexy.

What to look for: octopus sausages, Mojama salted tuna, pastrami salmon.