They say no good story started with a salad. In this instance, that is very evident. James and David of Doughbo, Brighton, began their recent culinary adventure down the pub. Born of beer, one might imagine a business model would then be formed with a clear head and straight-forward thinking. Alas, these doughboys have done it differently. Leaving their street food van behind, they’ve taken over the Hobgoblin kitchen and brought a self-confessed ‘destructive’ business plan with them. Closing part of the road and causing general chaos, their Neapolitan wood-fired ovens were craned in to the shack in the back of the pub’s garden. A memorable start. These fire starters have since gone from strength to strength, pumping out soft doughy delights, packed with sumptuous stuffings.
Simply head to the Hobgoblin’s garden and visit the guys in their gastronomic hut, place your order and wait for the good times to roll in. Offering up six balls for £5 at lunch (between 12-4pm) or six for £8 (4-10pm), this is the perfect way to level out when you’ve not had dinner and accidentally ended up in the pub (again). Dinner service brings with it some more gourmet fillings, including the Mother Clucker (roast chicken, chorizo, sweet chilli sauce and mozzarella) and the Carne Con Chilli (homemade slow-cooked beef chilli in craft beer). On Sundays keep your eyes peeled and that hangover at bay with roast balls (check out the roast beef, red wine jus and braised red cabbage wrapped in doughy goodness). With the chance to pick and mix, you have the opportunity to try more or less one of everything. A friend joined me on their opening day to see what all the fuss was about, and we came hungry. It was a bloody good job we did. These balls aren’t for the faint of heart.
We picked out a range – some veggie, some chocolatey and some properly meaty balls. The dough itself was a beautiful golden brown and had just the right amount of crispiness on the outside. My favourite by far was the Absolute Porker, containing slow-cooked pulled pork, maple bourbon BBQ sauce and mozzarella. Yes, it was as amazing as it sounds. Biting in, the filling instantly oozed out – they’re stuffed full and ready to blow. The pork was melt-in-your-mouth, its flavour enhanced tenfold by the bourbon BBQ sauce. It’s quite easy to get wrong, but Doughbo’s BBQ sauce may be one of the best I’ve had. The mozzarella bound the components together and formed an almost viscous flow of incredible tastes. The Cheesy Nutter (V) came next. Full to bursting, these bad boys encased blue cheese, pear soaked in cider, roasted walnut and mozzarella. I’m not usually a fan of pears but, funnily enough, with the addition of cider, they become more than bearable. I do, however, love blue cheese and I found that the pear and blue complement each other really well. I was pleasantly surprised by the Nutter.
Another favourite was the Parma Royale. Think of a pizza doughball. Now imagine eating it. Salivating yet? It was fantastic – the salted Parma ham and mozzarella cheese went together flawlessly and with some grated Parmesan on top, we could have easily been in an authentic Italian restaurant. Feeling pretty darn full by this point, we couldn’t quite resist the sweet and delectable ball with quite a threatening name – The Nuke (V). Savoury flavours ousted, white and milk chocolate are injected into the balls and drizzled in salted caramel. Rather decadent, the ‘dessert’ is certainly filling and positively oozed with chocolate. James, David and dog Max have formed an unstoppable team – they’ve made the smart move of letting Max make the executive decisions. One thing I would recommend is perhaps not pouring lager on top of a feast like this, otherwise you may find yourself dozing off in the office and have an unproductive afternoon.
Doughbo has taken residency at the Hobgoblin, 31 York Place, Brighton BN1 4GU