BY PALOMA LACY
When I left Brighton 11 years ago and headed home to South London, it was with a heavy heart and longing for two things: the sea and a decent café.
I’ve never quite been able to work out why the Sussex capital (I think we can call it that) is awash with the fabulous eateries that were once the staple of this nation.
Thankfully, the interim decade has seen my neighbourhood up its game considerably, no doubt driven by people’s increasing appetite for eating breakfast out, or brunch as it’s more popularly called today.
Last week, I stumbled upon the finest example of a café as I’ve encountered in I don’t know how long. Cut The Mustard Café is the blueprint of precisely what a café should be.
Open 8am until 5.30pm, I spent much of the day working on a windy and rainy Friday, watching as the hoards made their way through the doors, feasting on a full English and other strands of breakfast dishes, right throughout the day.
This place is hugely popular with all sectors of the community, parents with toddlers, freelancers, over 60s – all life is here.
I witnessed several people making repeat visits that same day.
What’s driving people through the doors of a café situated in side street off Mitcham Lane?
A concise menu, with dishes made using the best produce, and the fact that you won’t find horrible cotton wool white bread or margarine.
In my book, these two ingredients are among the worst offenders commonplace in so many cafes.
Taking breakfast with a friend, she ordered the Priory – Cut The Mustard’s full English. I wondered if it was so called because it’s as comforting as being in the bosom of rehab or perhaps has religious connotations.
Either way, it was good, and very good at that. Bacon lardons from famed butcher, The Ginger Pig, home-baked beans, crispy potatoes, house-made brown sauce, and poached eggs on fried sourdough (£9.50).
Missing a good old British banger, you can add one as a side.
Sourdough is baked daily on the premises – and good job, too, as it lies at the heart of menu.
Breakfast, sandwiches, sausage rolls and cake just about takes into consideration every mealtime.
I had Peggy in my sights – the vegan option but one that would melt the heart of most meat eaters.
It includes poached eggs, smashed avocado, smashed butter beans, pickled shallots, chilli, roasted tomatoes and herbs on sourdough.
Non-vegans can add feta, cured salmon or smoked bacon. I loved the left field sandwich selection – salt beef, emmental, mustard and sauerkraut, or mushroom melt.
Sweet tooths will be satiated with a choice of five or six cakes daily, carrot and lemon, polenta and pistachio were among those on last Friday.
Residents in the surrounding area are so lucky to have Cut The Mustard at the heart of their community and the presence of cafes like this will continue to raise the bar for others to meet.