“Burgers and more made with seasonal Sussex produce”
This modest claim belies the true magnitude of the oral delight awaiting you at the Troll’s Pantry. The ‘Wild Range’ 35 day aged English Longhorn burgers are lovingly handmade & cooked to order, using seasonal local ingredients, as are many of the condiments and salads…even the buns are baked daily by the Troll’s ‘humble assistant’!
The company’s ethos is to only use animal products that are fully traceable, local, and from sources that go ‘above and beyond’ matters of animal welfare; to minimise environmental impact, support local businesses and produce fresh homemade food to the highest standard. This obviously appeals to many a conscientious Brightonian, me included. You may note the lack of vegetarian options, but due high wastage these were removed from the menu, in line with keeping the promise of limited waste. Due to increased demand and lack of manpower – all the work is done by one man, after all – chips aren’t even on the menu at the moment.
Since its setup in Spring 2012 the Troll’s Pantry has gained somewhat of a cult following, with hordes of hungry folk queuing up to take a bite of the troll’s wares, which often sell out ahead of closing time. This is no mean feat in Brighton, where there are burger bars a ’plenty, some of which already have great reputations, along with most other types of global cuisine. We really are very spoiled. The secret, I think, is to keep it simple, but fresh – and I don’t just mean in the culinary sense. Of course, the quality of the meat is imperative too – it’s also what The Coal Shed, Brighton’s new darling of the steak world use, and Gregg Wallace eats there! The ‘Seasonal Specials’ are what seem to get the burger connoisseurs chomping at the bit (horse pun intended).
There are two mainstays on the menu, available as singles or doubles – The Imperial (St. Giles cheese, pickles, American mustard, ketchup and seasonal salad) for £5/£7.50, and The Smoky Mountain (Bourbon bacon jam, homemade BBQ sauce, smoked foresters cheese, caramelised onions, garlic mayo and seasonal salad) for £7/£9.50. Seasonal specials come into rotation as and when – to stay in the know look out for regular updates on Facebook and Twitter. These start at £7 for a single and £9.50 for a double.
On my first visit, which I’m embarrassed to say wasn’t until February just gone; I had The Shaman (sage and honey bacon jam, beetroot and horseradish slaw, garlic mayo, beetroot ketchup, Sussex goat’s cheese.). I’d been closely monitoring the Facebook page to pick my moment carefully, and lay in wait for my perfect burger to come along. Anyone who knows me is aware of my almost fetishlike obsession with pork products, especially bacon, so it’s no surprise I jumped at the chance to sample an offering slathered in bacon jam. I have a slightly healthier respect for beetroot and goat’s cheese and so I could resist no longer…
The first thing that struck me is just how meltingly soft the whole thing was; the glazed brioche-style bun and the silky meat falling seamlessly into my mouth was a truly rapturous experience and not one I’ve associated with tastings of burgers past. Aptly, Nick Cave’s “Babe, You Turn Me On” wafted through my earbuds as I devoured the beast. Goat’s cheese, beetroot and horseradish are all bold flavours and one could be forgiven for thinking together they might produce too strong a flavour, but they were incredibly mellow with just a hint of each shining through almost one by one. The result of the troll’s foraging and potion-concocting was simply stunning. I can say, hand on heart, that this was the best burger to ever pass my lips. Next time it’s a double.
Now, trolls aren’t known for their sociable nature, but I managed to glean a few words from him about what’s next for the pantry. “I am merely a vessel exercising the will of the Troll King Mojo” he rumbled. “Popularity of the Troll’s mighty burgers has grown massively in recent weeks to the point where keeping up with demand has become difficult. Because of this the exalted King Troll has decreed that operations be moved to a pub, where phase two of the master plan can commence. This shall pave the way for phase three. The final onslaught and enslavement of humanity to the rightful troll overlords.”
(The Troll’s Pantry has found its new home at the Hobgoblin, along London Road)
by Nicole Healing
The Troll’s Pantry
31 York Place