belchers cafe brighton

Looking for reminders of old Brighton is difficult. Not so much churches, architecture and monuments, but the old cafes, bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and shopfronts that once graced the city. So many have been lost to history, demolished and replaced, or closed down years ago, unable to meet rising rents. Except for the odd treasures, like this no-frills cafe hidden up a side street in Hove. Look at its perfect corner setting and perfectly preserved Victorian shopfront! Shame about the signage though…

Here is Belchers, one of the only no-frills traditionally English cafes left in Brighton – which refuses to give into tourism and food trends and somehow seems to survive. By this I mean the kind of time-worn local places that serve up cheap, honest English food in unpretentious surroundings. Think: fry ups in every combination imaginable, bubble and squeak, pie and mash, fish and chips, tea in mugs, sandwiches and rolls, toast, omelettes – that kind of thing. They’re basically the equivalent of the old-school diners you find scattered around America or all those authentic little bars you find dotted all around Spain.

greasy spoon cafe brighton

Decor wise, they’re likely to have wood panelling on the walls, perhaps even net curtains, collections of photos of the local area or famous clientele in frames, laminate tables complete with sauce and vinegar bottles, help-yourself milk and cutlery on the counter, and of course, an industrial-size hot water urn…

Belchers is one of these places that warms the heart, transports us to the past and feels like it’s got a history – although to be honest, records of its history are hard to come by. I did find out that the original building dates back to 1890 and that its current owner, Jane, took over running this cafe in the 1980s. With its unpretentious decor, cosy atmosphere, friendly service and cheap hearty comfort food, it’s stayed popular enough since to stay open, yet remain an unspoiled hidden gem.

belchers cafe brighton

This enchanting old-fashioned treasure attracts a regular clientele of workers, locals, and visitors – which according to a map on one wall covered in Post-its, come from all around the world. Jane loves talking to people about Brighton, its history and its colourful characters.

belchers greasy spoon cafe

Speaking of famous clientele, above one table is a framed photo of Kate Moss standing outside the cafe from the time it was used in a Vogue photoshoot. Who knew? It’s also been used as the setting for adverts, music videos and interviews.

Find Belchers at 9 Montpelier Road, Brighton BN1 2LQ. It’s open every day from 8am until 2pm.

Let’s hope it survives Covid…

Some other favourite no-frills cafes to check out are Notoranni’s in Eastbourne, The Regency in Westminster, London and E Pellici in Bethnal Green, London.

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