There’s no place like Arcobaleno! New brunch menu review

For a truly unique brunch experience, delve into these Maltese-Mediterranean flavours

Arcobaleno rightfully name themself Brighton’s celebrated hidden treasure. I don’t venture into Kemptown much, which is possibly why I had never heard of Arcobaleno myself. From the outside, the venue does not look particularly enticing. A white building with a white logo. But perhaps the portal into a vibrant and proud space as soon as you walk through the door is the intention when you transition from exterior to interior.

Upon giving Arcobaleno a quick follow on Instagram, and seeing a mixture of high definition videos promoting weekend drag events, and an ABBA themed cocktail menu (yes, you read that right), plus more personal videos which highlight the sense of community and inclusivity that Arcobaleno embraces, I was disappointed I had not heard of this space sooner. They have so much going on at this LGBTQ+ bar and cafe, also including disco and live music nights. Their latest venture that we were invited to experience was their freshly launched Maltese-Mediterranean brunch menu. 

First, a little more about Arcobaleno, so that I can truly establish how incredible this business is.

It is a family owned venue, by Nick and his mother Luciana, who together also founded Across Rainbows to celebrate diversity and inclusion in LGBTQ+ communities. The restaurant is unapologetically decorated with pride flags on every table, rainbows painted on the walls, and aptly selected Wizard of Oz memorabilia. This ode to Oz allowed Arcobaleno to coin the hashtag #NoPlaceLikeArcobaleno.

By night, the cafe transforms into a literal stage where cabaret, drag, music, glitter, joy and all of the above takes place. By day, the establishment is just as vibrant, but exuberance is delivered through a delicious culinary adventure, rather than via ABBA tracks and platform heels. The lovely waitress, Morgane, let me choose a table (I unknowingly went for the area which transforms into a stage) and immediately felt very welcome in her presence. Morgane was friendly with all customers, proven when I overheard her chatting away to a family visiting Brighton for the day. Arcobaleno truly is a space for all to feel like they are at home. 

The manager Dan, Nick’s brother and Luciana’s son, also introduced himself with a large smile. Arcobaleno opened just last June, Dan informed me, and he is looking forward to their one year birthday coming up. The new brunch menu seems like the perfect way to amplify their presence in Kemptown. They have made their mark as fun and inclusive, but now they want to indicate that they really know their food too. 

I had only briefly gazed over the brunch options thus far, but was immediately impressed by how most of the dishes were totally new to me; hard to find when it comes to a Brighton brunch.

This is when I asked what inspired the Maltese element of the breakfast, to which I discovered Luciana is originally from Malta. 

A menu perfect for summer, highlights include ‘Eggs in Purgatory’ (£10.50) featuring two eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, and creamy feta, served with flatbread or focaccia. Or, amongst the ‘Lunch Brunch’ list are even more unique dishes such as, the Crispy Belly Pork (£12.95), which is pan-fried belly pork served with black pudding and potato rosti, fried egg, crunchy chilli oil, pickles, and rocket. Or, you could try the Timpana (£12), a Maltese pasta pie made with beef and pork in a rich tomato sauce, with pasta and parmesan, wrapped in puff pastry. And that’s not all – Arcobaleno also has a number of delicious fry-up options, including a fully vegan option. 

When it came to ordering my breakfast, I was torn between trying the Avocado Rosti (£9.95) – crisp potato rosti, smashed avocado, fried eggs and chive oil, or one of the filled bun or flatbread options. With Morgane’s recommendations helping me decide, I opted for the Smoked Salmon Verde (£9.50) – smoked salmon, whipped feta, leaves, and green sauce. The detail that swayed me was the fact that all bread – flatbreads, buns and focaccia – are made fresh in house everyday, and that was a taste experience I was not willing to miss. 

The plate came out on a branded piece of parchment paper, a nice touch which indicates Arcobaleno has a clear sense of brand identity.

The dish itself was generous. For what I thought would be a lighter option, this flatbread was truly loaded. Far too often, smoked salmon can be plated up in pathetic and measly portion sizes. This was different. The flatbread was packed with the smoked goodness, all ingredients of the finest quality, which is a priority for the Arcobaleno family. The whipped feta was rich and creamy. Feta generally is an ideal, not-too-cheesy option, but when whipped, it also provided a lovely textural balance against the crisp salad leaves and rocket. The mysterious ‘green sauce’ was, I think, a light drizzle of pesto. Oily, basil-y, all the good stuff that you want trickled on breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The bread was soft and floury with a gentle char to it, wrapped around these flavoursome fillings. Made in house by hand (using locally sourced organic Shipton Mill flour) too, I couldn’t help but imagine tasting the extra care and effort. I did attempt once or twice to pick it up and eat the flatbread like a sandwich, but this feast deserves a knife and fork. 

Washed down with a refreshing orange juice, it was just what I wanted at 11am on a sunny Saturday morning. What’s more is that their new beer garden was hosting the quaintest independent market. Creatives selling originally crafted prints, jewellery and tote bags as part of Across Rainbows accumulated at the back of the venue. This alone was a symbol of the colour and community that Acrobaleno radiates.  

The restaurant’s brunch menu runs Tuesday – Sunday between 10am-4pm. Arcobaleno is also proud to be completely wheelchair accessible as a venue with side access to the beer garden, and disabled toilets located on the ground floor. Plus, students get 10% off, a sign on the bar informed me.

Arcobaleno says, “Discover a vibrant hub of diverse events and experiences at Arcobaleno. From mental health workshops and live music performances to drag shows and book launches, our calendar is ever-changing and full of surprises. Plus, enjoy our delicious coffee and lunchtime menu with friends or sip on our signature cocktails after work. Our doors are open from morning till late, welcoming all who seek a safe and inclusive space to connect and celebrate. Find us at the heart of Brighton’s Kemptown, 120 St George’s Road, BN2 1EA.”

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