Cafés are no longer just places to grab a caffeine fix or quick bite.
To compete you need to offer a social space with its own character and vibe, if it is readily Instagrammable even better, and it needs to be a mobile office and offer more than just a few cakes to eat.
Despite these challenges there are still people who dream of opening their own café, and why shouldn’t they. Lost in The Lanes (www.lostinthelanes.com) on Nile Street, Brighton, is the realisation of one such dream. Owner Isabela has worked in the hospitality business for many years, and the desire to open her own café has always been strong. Having settled in Brighton she waited for the right premises to come along, and that dream was realised in August when Lost opened its doors.
The venue ticks all the boxes in terms of what a modern café should be. The décor is stylishly minimal, with a neutral feel that doesn’t overwhelm the senses and allows you the opportunity to relax and reflect. This was a conscious decision when designing the café as Isabela wanted it to be a calm place for people to enjoy and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There are quotes from Kipling’s poem IF on the walls, and the open kitchen and copper hues make for a very photogenic space. You will also find plenty of plugs and tables for your laptop if you need somewhere to work.
Coffee is a serious business for aficionados, of which I am not, and Lost has spared no expense on ensuring its coffee is up to the standard. All coffee has been handpicked and their coffee machine is one of the best available. Teas have also been personally selected for their quality and flavour, and fresh juices and smoothies are also available.
The food has a strong focus on providing a healthy balance, without completely avoiding some naughty treats. The daily salad bar is very eye-catching and packed with delicious and nutritious options. The breakfast menu has plenty of healthy options as well, along with classics such as the Lost Breakfast and Lost Eggs. As I was there for a late lunch I went for the cured salmon with toasted rye.
Apart from the breads and pastries, everything at Lost is made daily on site. My cured salmon was fresh and had a delightfully firm, yet yielding texture. It was accompanied by a light cucumber salad and celeriac remoulade that gave it a hint of horseradish heat. Everything on the plate worked and the flavours were balanced well.
Lost in The Lanes is a great café that offers quality food and drink in a relaxing and comforting setting. The menu makes for some hard decisions, and I would happily return to try more dishes based on my salmon. There are plans to use the space for occasional evening pop-up restaurants, which will be worth keeping an eye out for. Despite so much competition, I think that Lost in The Lanes could become one of Brighton’s best spots for those in the know.