A little way past the far side of The Level, away from the hubbub of Brighton’s bustling city centre, you’ll find Village – a unique cafe-by-day, bar-by-night, which sits neatly on the end of Islingword Road in Hanover.
It’s just about far enough up the hill to get your heart pumping a little harder – but not quite enough to work up a sweat. Its location suits it perfectly: it has cosy, family-friendly vibes – exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from the neighbourhood within which it resides. Of course, this also means the staff are exceptionally congenial too. I note during my visit that manager Rich addresses two of his customers by their first names, something that you would struggle to find in the city centre.
I’m here for brunch, which is just as well as it’s 9am on a Wednesday morning and I’ve worked up quite an appetite cycling up to Elm Grove. I’m met with a brimming menu which boasts impressive vegetarian and vegan options – and an array of Real Patisserie baked goods I struggled not to purchase – yet opt myself for the Village Breakfast, freshly squeezed orange juice and a black americano (which I deem as staples for all good brunches).
The coffee comes first, and is surprisingly smooth considering its robustness (I ordered it strong as I needed a little something extra to get me through hump day). It’s soon followed by the orange juice, which is perfect for a sunny day like today – and full of bits of pulp, which is just the way I like it. While waiting for my meal, I consider my surrounds. Previously known as the Horse & Groom, a public house for over a century until 2014, Village is full of vintage decor and bits and bobs that wouldn’t look out of place in your grandparents’ living room. And do you know what? It works. There are plush vintage leather armchairs for whiling away an afternoon with a book, old Chinese-style pattern rugs and a mish-mash of furnishings that probably shouldn’t go together – and yet I can’t help but feel what a lovely and charming place this is, with a vase of fresh daffodils adorning each naturally-lit table.
The food comes sooner than expected, and I’m presented with a huge plate full of all the breakfast favourites. Two thick halves of crunchy white bread are accompanied by a single sausage, two rashers of bacon, perfectly golden and buttery scrambled eggs, vine tomatoes, (extra) halloumi, potato hash and a ramekin of baked beans (I maintain that anyone who dishes these out any other way is a monster). It’s also served with a harissa paste, a fresh side which accompanies the dish well. As I chow down my brunch, one thing I note about Village is that I feel it’s unlikely you’ll find the typical Instagram crowd here. The fat is left on the bacon, there’s a seeming lack of avocado, and you may struggle to scrape one of your five-a-day if you go for the carnivore option. However, I didn’t miss the vegetables one bit, and I found didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day – even with my pre-work cycle and a print deadline looming over me. I get the feeling Village’s brunch would have the same energising effect on a hangover, or parents looking for some sort of solstice after a long week with the kids – but then, good, honest food in a great setting will do that to you.
And even better news: it’s served from 9am-4pm every day.