Located halfway up St James Street, Social Board is the new kid on the block when it comes to lunch. Quietly understated, its black exterior is tucked in next to its neighbours.
Famished on a mid-week slump, myself and my dining partner headed over to Social Board on a muggy Wednesday afternoon. Upon entering, the layout is spacious and bright. Its interior is inspired by the industrial-style decor common to the cafe scene: the walls are lined with tiles and large steel lamps hang from the ceiling, which are evenly balanced by the wooden features which lend a warm rustic tone.
On the left is the counter, behind which is the open-plan kitchen where Tomasz and Atilla – the owners – are busy cooking. I immediately take to this openness and transparent layout because I love to watch people cook: I find it adds to the dining experience because you can see the whole process from start to finish. Their ethos is about making dining a social experience, hence the name, Social Board. Tomasz tells me that they want to engage with their customers, and plans to introduce a polaroid camera and pin up photos of all their visitors on the walls.
We see a small courtyard out the back and choose to sit here – it’s a warm day, after all. The menu is small with five sandwiches to choose from and a selection of four salads and four sides – though this will soon be extended according to customer demand. I opt for the Beetroot, apple, roast pumpkin seeds and goats cheese salad (£5), a side of smoked paprika aubergine fries (£3.50) and a raspberry lemonade kombucha to drink. Although the roast beef sandwich, we are told, is the most popular, my friend opts for the spicy lamb meatball sub with tomato coriander parsley sauce and mint turmeric yogurt dip (£7.95). We start with the aubergine fries, the verdict: simply delicious. Long gone are the days of potato fries. These aubergine strips are marinated and then fried, but not too much, so they retain their soft fleshy texture. A generous sprinkle of sea-salt makes them a perfect side dish. Even better is the red pepper mayonnaise accompanying the fries which is vegan and made from scratch. You can’t tell the difference at all!
Next, the meatball sandwich is attractively laid-out on a wooden board contrasted by the yellow dip dotted around the edges. It is rich and flavoursome, though not the easiest to eat as the sauce makes it a rather messy experience!
The beetroot salad was small and not something that would fill me up by itself, the hemp seeds were an interesting addition, it was just a little shy of enough goats cheese to balance out the flavours for me.
Considering that Social Board has only been open for three weeks it already seems a well established cafe. Tomasz tells me that despite being head chefs at Brighton’s vegetarian institution Food for Friends for five and a half years, he and his brother have decided to open up to a wider market and include meat on their menu. They will however be holding pop-up events, starting with a vegan night of four courses for £21 coming to Social Board very soon.
If you’re looking for a low-key place to meet a friend and eat some indulgent food then I can attest – this is it!
Social Board is at 21 St James’s St, Brighton, BN2 1RF. Tel: 07594 215183
Images: Nick Harvey at Restaurants Brighton