When a new café opens up in town, I’m like one of those fish in the Amazon. You know the ones that follow a line of urine until it finds the dude’s urethra (bear with me) – reasons not to pee in open water, entry number one.
At the same time, these fish do not discriminate and will happily enter a vagina should it be convenient or the anu… you know what, it doesn’t matter.
Anyway, I’m like one of those fish in some ways but not in others.
Similar in the sense that we both seize new opportunities to feed but immensely different in the sense that I tend to follow a line of coffee or cake, not urine. I’m sure you’ve just let out a huge sigh of relief at that revelation, that’s if you even made it this far.
Well, that was a very unconventional start to a review wasn’t it now? You know how I like to do things a little differently round here (you can also read my review of the Red Roaster, Brighton, here).
I’ve been following Starfish & Coffee on Instagram and eyeing up their pancakes on a daily basis. If a tool ever becomes available that allows you to track who’s viewing your profile and how many times, then I may as well ‘fess up to them now that I’m basically a resident pest.
Nestled in the hills of Queens Park, Brighton, the café has quickly become a sought-out coffee spot among locals, despite being the new bean on the block.
I don’t often venture too far away from central Brighton and Hove but a quick look around and you’ll see that, unlike Seven Dials or the North Laine, there’s nothing else quite like Starfish & Coffee around there.
Nuzzled in the heart of a real neighbourhood community, it’s perfect for busy mums, old friends, tired pups and girls that just want to use all their free time to eat and then write about it. Guess which camp I’m in then!
This place has got interior finesse for sure – from its white bar tiles to the smatterings of dark inky blue and brass pendant lighting – but there’s something refreshingly laid back about it.
It’s not trying to be something it’s not, it’s not overly pandering to the Pinterest trends and the Scandi gimmicks but it’s definitely aware of them.
Starfish is taking things back to basics – great coffee, great company, great food.
It’s nailed the Instagram aesthetic but not in such a way that it dwarfs owner Tony’s creative vision. It’s all tastefully done.
Having previously worked at Juice FM, Tony’s musical influences are embedded in the very walls – spot the illustration of the starfish strumming a guitar, what a guy.
I was lucky enough to chat to Tony about how this place came to fruition and funnily enough it was just what I needed to hear – I’ll explain why in another post.
He was at a time in his life when he was asking himself what he really wanted to do and what he was good at: “Turns out I’m really good at making brunch,” he excitedly tells me.
His passion is tangible and infectious and you can tell he’s proud of what he’s achieved in such a saturated market, and rightly so.
The meat, eggs and milk are all sourced from local farms and the coffee is roasted locally by Coffee@33 so it’s very much a community venture. Just one look around at the buggies and the dog biscuits on the bar will tell you that. I promise I didn’t go there to stalk dogs, it just so happens to be a dog friendly cafe, ahem.
After a lot of batting back and forth between the pancakes or crushed avo, I went for the latter.
I’ve never thought to add feta to my avo on toast before and when fused with the freshness of the lemon and a few tasty toms on the vine, it gave one of my favourite dishes a sassy little update.
See, the thing about Starfish is that the dishes are carefully-curated but light years away from pretentious and getting that balance right is no mean feat.
On my first visit (yes I went back twice in the same week and sweatpants are all that fit me right now) it was a busy late-Saturday morning – peak brunch time – and yet our drinks and grub were served really quickly.
Joe went for the full English and of course I had to pilfer a bite of one of the sausages because this is me we’re talking about.
They were fat, porky and seasoned to perfection, just like they should be.
There’s plenty of vegan and vegetarian choices on the menu too, which again is savvy given Brighton’s increasingly vegan landscape.
But if you’re a pancake pig like me, it’s well worth surrendering your waistline to the maple syrup stack at least once in your lifetime. I’m not ashamed. My BMI might be, but I’m nothing but proud as punch.
The pastry and sweet selection should also come with a ‘not safe to be around if you’re on a diet’ disclaimer. All the homemade cakes are from local bakeries who deliver the goods fresh each morning. Shout out to Lawley’s Bakery, your lemon drizzle needs Star Baker accolades, mam.
Myself and my food babies will be star-fishing out at this place on the regular. I hope to see you there!
*I’ll be the girl eating maple syrup out of her hair*
Love you bye.