Secret Eater: Northern Lights

Back in the day The Strand was our favourite restaurant in Brighton and we were rather upset when it closed down. But as Brighton’s only Nordic bar, Northern Lights has become a second home for not just ex-pat Scandinavians but also Brits looking for something off the beaten track. It’s clearly working for them as when we arrive at a little after six o’clock all the tables but one have reserved signs on them.

We rather fancy the traditional Bushman’s reindeer (£12.90) but aren’t in the mood for mash so ask if we can swap to new potatoes (an option with the meatballs). The waitress is very against the idea, which shows that everyone here cares about how the food works together. So we go for stegt flæsk (£8.90), a Danish take on pork belly where the crispy meat seems to be cut into chunks and then baked. The dauphinoise potatoes are deliciously creamy and the spring greens go great with the parsley sauce. Next stop, of course, is the traditional Swedish meatballs (£9.90 for our large portion, £7.90 for a normal serving) and they’re excellent. Peppery and solidly meaty, they’re served on a bed of mash with the lush cream-based gravy and lingonberry jelly we love so much. As is the odd Swedish way, they come with fresh salad rather than vegetables, but we’re used to that now. Even stranger, for dessert our pancakes (£4.50) come with jam. It’s rather charming but we’ll take a bit of time on that one.

If you’re looking for something a bit different but not scary, Northern Lights fits the bill. The food is tasty and authentic and very keenly priced. It’s also got a great atmosphere – it was clearly just about to get very lively – if you’re just looking for a drink. All in all it’s enough to make us stop mourning The Strand, and that’s very high praise.

Well, we saw our Finnish neighbour at the bar just after ordering and stopped for a chat, so maybe we were sussed. But nothing was mentioned so we might have got away with it.

Mon-Thurs 5pm-midnight; Fri 3pm-2am; Sat noon-2am; Sun 3pm-2am
Little East St (01273) 747096

Food 3 years old

James Kendall

James Kendall is the co-owner and editor of SOURCE. He’s been a music journalist since 1992 and spent over a decade travelling the globe covering dance music for DJmag. He’s interviewed a range of subjects from Bat For Lashes, Foals and James ‘LCD Soundsystem’ Murphy to Katie Price and the Sugababes. He’s a keen photographer and has work featured in The Guardian.

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