After a long slog of a week, Friday lunch marks the home stretch to the weekend. In my opinion, it’s this near-sacred time that should be one of enjoyment with no holding back. Going to The Marwood café is a treat in itself, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes a bit more than coffee and cake is needed. So, if you find yourself in the area some time between 12-3pm on any given Friday, bypass the coffee ninjas inside and pop round the back of the café to their garden. In this open air Aladdin’s cave of a yard, three stalls welcome you to their street food wonderland.
The day I have the luxury of the YARDY experience is quite a wet one. A colleague and I huddle on a bright blue bench (stirring up nostalgia for the summer months effectively with the smells drifting out from the stalls) and admire some of the street art that adorns the walls. The pop-up began in November after the YARDY team renovated the space, and will expand their service hours after Easter to include Thursdays and Saturdays giving customers more opportunity to experience all types of delights. The only rule is this: all vendors must make all of their food from scratch. There is also a huge sense of pride evident from stall owners stemming from the ethical sourcing of their meats and produce.
We pop our hoods up and brave the drizzle to the first stall of our tour de YARDY. First up, The Union Grill’s pulled porchetta roll (£6). The meat bursts with flavour, as it’s notoriously moist and marbled roast pork. Teamed with confit fennel, artichoke and red pepper salsa, the Union team’s first YARDY appearance is definitely a hit. The bread, made fresh, isn’t too heavy and encases the filling, adding to the flavour with notes of very good quality olive oils. The salsa included really made the pork pop and made for a perfect accompaniment. If you take a look at The Union Grill’s menu (accessible via their residency tab on The Gladstone website) then you’ll get an idea of how serious these guys are about perfectly grilling and smoking their produce. They really know what they’re doing.
Next up we get to know Elliot Daly of Dalinsky’s Brighton. Gaining fans around Sussex over the last year, Daly started his street food stall as more of a hobby than anything else. Curing and smoking his own pastrami and salt beef at home ready for customers that same day, Daly clearly knows his audience. We give the Reuben sandwich a try (£5 half/£7 full) and have the choice between meats. Topped off with sauerkraut, pickles, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing, this is not for the faint of heart! The components that make up the sandwich all add to the great taste. With different textures coming from the meat and pickles, the Swiss cheese adds a new dimension to the meal. I had to look up Russian dressing, as it’s not something I’ve come across before. To my surprise, it’s a simple sauce comprised of mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, cracked pepper and cayenne. It works really well, as the balance between these ingredients is aced.
Next up we arrive at The Guerilla Grill. We chat to Jake, the stall owner and YARDY founder, about his exotic Arabic flatbreads (£6). These are cooked in front of customers, giving an authentic experience. We could imagine finding a stall such as Jake’s in that part of the world as the vibrant colours foreshadowed some incredible flavours. With a choice between slow cooked south down lamb shoulder or charcoal grilled aubergine, we opt for the latter to give ourselves a break from quite an influx of protein. The flatbread envelops ingredients such as tahini, pomegranate, tomatoes, za’atar (a herb from the Middle East), tabbouleh, zhoug (a green chilli sauce from Yemen), yoghurt celery cucumber, dill and crispy shallots. With such a range of different components, some dishes might be over saturated with flavour but Jake’s wraps are a quite enchanting. I really enjoy our vegetarian option from The Guerilla Grill. It’s so well thought out flavour-wise and makes for a really nice difference from the meat-heavy treats of the earlier afternoon.
If I’m honest with myself, I think my favourite might just be The Union Grill’s pulled porchetta sandwich. For me there’s something about slow cooked pork, especially when it’s teamed with the unexpected (IE not apple). My colleague can’t decide which she loves the most as the meaty Reuben and the vegetable flatbreads are literally worlds apart. The quality of the food coming out of YARDY is quite exceptional. Each vendor has their own unique personality shine through their offerings and back up their cuisines with friendly, charming smiles as they serve. One day, if the sunshine decides to return towards the end of the working week, I fully plan to be gorging on these street food wonders and basking in the sun unable to move.
YARDY is in Marwoods Café garden, every Friday from 12pm-3pm. 52 Ship Street, Brighton, BN1 1AF