I know what you’re thinking. It’s no secret that Brighton already has its fair share of burger joints – brioche buns, melt-in-your-mouth beef patties, a plethora of added extras and a paddle pick to hold it all together being the usual fare. Let’s face it: at first glance, we’ve been here before.
However, as I retreat to Stock Burger Co on a Friday evening from the unseasonable cold, I’m quick to realise that perhaps I had judged the newest addition to King’s Road (more specifically, Little Preston Street) a little too soon. While its aesthetic clearly takes inspiration from the classic American diner, the dim scarlet lighting, sleek interiors and Alcatraz-striped uniformed waiters make it more San Francisco cool than Florida tacky.
Based on an ethos that marries the perfect burger with the perfect beer, our waiter tells us Stock Burger was so conceived because the powers that be had struggled to find somewhere in Brighton that did mouthwatering burgers without skimping on equally-as-amazing drinks. It’s a marriage they take appear to take seriously; upon first glance at the menu, my companion and I spot something we rarely see – recommended drinks pairings.
Despite having it all spelt out for me, my options seemed limitless, the drinks menu sparking just as much curiosity as the food. Burgers are obviously the main event here – Chef David Fernandez won the Signature Burger Award at the National Burger Awards in February, and there’s a ‘craft your own burger’ option for those looking to get creative. However, cocktails and milkshakes make for close competition, with the latter ranging from “prohibition” shakes that hover around a fiver to ‘speakeasy’ ones (loaded with 50ml of premium spirits) for £7. We also note partnerships with local suppliers, from Hove’s Small Batch Coffee Co and Lurgashall’s Blackdown Distillery to Lancing’s Naked Beer Company – makers of Stock Burger’s very own bespoke IPA.
After much deliberation, we decide to start with the chilli chicken sticks (£6.25) to share – crisp, buttery chicken served with a side of sweet chilli sauce – swiftly followed by our burgers. While my associate orders the classics (a Bloody Mary, £8, to accompany her grilled chicken burger, £9.25), I opt for the full Stock Burger experience: Craft Beer classic burger (roast garlic mayo, two beer battered onion rings, sweet cured streaky bacon and crisp lettuce, dressed with Stock Burger Co Craft Beer sauce, £10.50), with a Smokin’ Hops cocktail of tequila, lemon juice, tabasco, sugar syrup and Stock Burger IPA. (£7.50, recommended masterfully). Sides of crunchy courgette fries and fluffy skin-on potato fries (£3.50 and £3 respectively) make the meal; although after our starter, we admittedly struggle.
Following a short rest of shared appreciation, we’re ready for dessert. Brighton beach (£5.95) combines all the flavours of the seaside in a concoction of childhood nostalgia (think cinnamon doughnuts, soft-serve ice-cream and popping candy, all topped off with strawberry candy floss), but it’s a little too sickly for one so we split it. We finish the night sipping salty margaritas, deliberating the delights we’d just devoured. In our visit to Stock Burger Co, one thing rang true throughout – these guys don’t do their flavour by halves. Their burgers are beefy, their spice really is spicy, and their drinks are possibly amongst the strongest in Brighton (and trust me, this writer has tried them all).
Despite a split starter, two mains, two sides and a dessert, two cocktails managed to get us very tipsy indeed. Our bill came to £62.15 – usually a little more than I’d pay for dinner – but considering this was so much more than your standard burger joint (and they’d succeeded in getting me quite drunk), I decided to let it slide…
Stock Burger Co, 5 Little Preston St, Brighton, BN1