“ 12, Gloucester Road, Brighton. Tel: 689006 „
If you are a fan of real ale but don’t want to drink in a pub populated by overweight middle-aged men with long beards and even longer sideburns then this is the place for you. ‘The Basketmakers Arms’ (12 Gloucester Road) is a long established traditional and yet trendy, public house hidden away in the North Laines of Brighton. The North Laines (not to be confused with the more touristy Lanes!) is an area of small streets leading down the hill on the left hand side of the main Brighton Railway station. The area is full of small shops selling all sorts of weird and wonderful items from second hand comics and books, trendy designer clothes to craft shops and bohemian looking café and bars. There is a good selection of pubs in the area and ‘The Basketmakers Arms’ is probably one of the best. ATMOSPHERE, STYLE AND DÉCOR The Basketmakers is an old pub set on a tight corner opposite some small residential cottages and a larger public house ‘The Eagle’. It consists of two room with a long curved bar straddling both areas. Both rooms are about the same size and when full can hols approx. 80 people seated. The décor is a mixture of traditional and eccentric and represents all that is good about local Brighton pubs. Dark wooden tables with assorted chairs and benches are surrounded by walls covered in authentic historical memorabilia, from old b/w photographs of the area and town dating back to Victorian times to a wonderful collection of enamel signs and small tobacco boxes all arranged in a haphazard fashion to cover every possible space on the walls. The overall look is one of ordered chaos but it is not the designer chaos of some of the modern designer theme pubs that try and import a ready-made atmosphere or sense of history by hanging old bicycles from the ceiling. The objects in the Basketmakers have been amassed over the years and are as much part of the pub as the wall and ceili
ng. The music being played behind the bar is usually a mixture of blues/rock/folk. It can be heard above the talking of the customers but it is not intrusive. You are unlikely to find dance/trance/hip hop or anything from the recent charts being played! PEOPLE, BOOZE AND NOSH The crowd that frequent this pub varies depending on the time of day. It is quite well hidden from the tourist beaten track so it avoids being filled by the large number of foreign language students that prowl around the streets of Brighton before nigh time descends. The Basketmakers has a reputation for serving good reasonably priced, traditional pub grub. The menu varies but if you like home made lasagne, generously stuffed baguettes, sausage and mash, or even slightly more exotic humous and feta cheese salads this is the place for you. At lunchtimes the fine selection of food does attract quite a crowd from the workers of the surrounding businesses, so a few suits will be on show. In the evenings a more sedate crowd takes over, student and former students mingle happily with leather clad biker types. On hot summers evening it isn’t unusual to see plenty of classic motorbikes parked outside and a friendly bunch of bikers drinking pints around the couple of tables placed on the pavement. Blue and his partner Kate (who is in charge of the food) run the pub with a welcoming and friendly manner. A selection of beers from the Portsmouth based Gales brewery is served including the wonderfully strong HSB and the Milder BBB at a bit over £2.00/pint. A selection of guest beers and standard lagers (including Stella Artois) are also usually available. The Basketmakers invariably features in the British Best Beer Guide year after year. If Whisky is your drink of choice the pub offers a great selection of Scottish single malts (usually) including, Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich and McAllans and sometimes it highlights a ‘M
alt of the Month’ at a special price of £1 a shot. Alco pops, soft drinks, a variety of other spirits and more exotic drinks like Absinthe are also available. Smoking is allowed in both bars and when the pub gets busy even with open windows and doors it can get quite smoky. To be assured in the evening go early before 8.00 most nights and beware that because of the popularity of the food lunchtimes can be even busier. So there you have it a friendly place to drink with a mixed cultured crowd, relaxed atmosphere, friendly landlord, quality music, excellent beer and great reasonably priced home cooked food. Have I convinced you yet? Thanks for reading and rating this opinion. © Mauri 2002
The Basketmakers Arms, 12 Gloucester Road In a town that revels in its hipness and modernity, to stumble upon the Basketmakers is wonderful. The old oxo and assorted tins on the walls, the enamel signs, the music hall bills and varied breweriana bring Britain's, and Brighton's, past alive. It is not difficult to imagine the rowdy knees up and animated drinking sessions that must have been commonplace when North Laine was a working class and artisan quarter way back when. Despite the nod to the past, this boozer is anything but twee. The folky, rock and roll, blues soundtrack ensure that, as does the cultured crowd. This is a boozer for good company, good chat and good beer. It's off the beaten track and all the better for it. This is a little bit of Brighton that will never submit to the gurus of minimalism and mass-produced fizz. Rejoice.