The Urchin is Five

The end of February marks the fifth birthday of The Urchin. Almost exclusively serving shellfish, craft ale and select wine, hidden away on Hove’s Belfast Street (that’s just behind the big Tescos, for those who only know Hove by major landmarks) this local pub has gained national acclaim and bucked the national trend which sees a ‘local’ close every 12 hours (according to CAMRA).

 

To celebrate The Urchin’s fifth birthday, we thought we’d share five things about the pub that you might not know, but definitely should.


When The Urchin first opened, it was operated under a lease from Enterprise Inns, but after a year they were able to become fully independent. This means that every decision they now make is their own, in particular, what beer they serve. More broadly, it gave The Urchin the freedom to think long-term about their future and it gave them the motivation to pour all their love and energy into this single venue, to make it really special. Being locally owned also means that there is a close proximity between the whole team and the local community.

The Urchin serves one of the largest ranges of craft beers in Brighton, but you only really need to look at the beer menu and bottle display to work that one out. What you can’t see is that under your feet is Nick’s microbrewery of Willy Wonkaesque genius. Shucked oysters brewed into stout, and apricot into pale ale being among some of the incredible creations taking place. The Larrikin Brewery, draws its name from Australian slang, referring to a street urchin, fittingly, one always “larkin’ about”.

With names like The Urchin and Larrikin banding about, it doesn’t take a genius to smell an Australian connection, so what’s it all about? Well, Nick Jerrim and partner Brad Jacobsen (who also founded Small Batch Coffee), as well as head chef Sean Brailsford all hark from Down Under. But more than that, while The Urchin keeps the dockyard spirit of the south of England alive with a pint of stout and a plate of oysters; an equally enjoyable shrimp and a cool ale prove that, in terms of taste, Australia really isn’t all that far away at all.

Staff at The Urchin in Hove

The Urchin Family

In addition to a strong Australian flavour, The Urchin also embraces some Latin influences, given that one of the partners, Austen, is married to an Italian, Eva; Head Chef, Sean, is married to a Portuguese, Paula; and former second chef, Ignacio (Iggy), is Spanish. There are some obvious clues on the menus such as Octopus and Potato Salad (which was a hit during “Sicilian Week”); Feijoada; and a sharing Seafood Paella on Sundays (see below). What may be less obvious is the Latin influence on The Urchin’s close-knit relationship with its “extended family”: the team, the regulars and the local community, which translates into a real sense of warmth on both sides of the bar.

In most pubs you’ll find a classic English roast of a Sunday, but The Urchin doesn’t want to stray too far from where its heart is – shellfish. Staying true to the tradition of making Sundays in pubs special and comforting, The Urchin serves up a sharing paella, packed to the brim with mussels, squid, king prawns, and cooked to chef Iggy’s family recipe. Served to share with friends and family and best enjoyed over a pint of something citrusy and hoppy, Paella Sunday does an excellent job of summing up why The Urchin is a local close to our hearts.

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