The first time I ate at Northern Lights was for our April 2015 edition. It was one of my first reviews and the food was fantastic. It more or less wrote itself. After working with the lovely owners since, I was very excited to be invited to come down and taste the delights coming out of the kitchen now that chef Kerri Hayley has taken the reins. Keeping the Scandinavian theme of the place at the forefront, here we have a kitchen under the name Kitchen Kultur, which does exactly as its name suggests. The culture of the Scandinavian countries that Northern Lights keeps close to its metaphorical heart is effectively blended with twists of Brighton in this menu revamp. The menu boasts five sections: burgers, modern classics, large plates, small plates and sides. I didn’t think that burgers would fit in with the northern European style of the cuisine but marries up with the British influence seamlessly.
We had a taste of The Nordic, which is made up of a beef patty, crispy pork belly, beetroot jam, jarlsberg cheese, roasted garlic mayo and pickles. At £8.45 and being comprised of some of the freshest and most local produce available, it’s a surprisingly healthy burger. I realise the words ‘healthy’ and ‘burger’ don’t tend to go together but Kerri has instilled in me already that just because some establishments create monstrously unhealthy meals, it’s not always necessary. The burger buns themselves are made in house each day to ensure the highest quality, as is the rye sourdough that accompanies other dishes. We’re treated to a few small plates as well, which this deliciously fresh bread forms the base for. Kerri smokes and cures some of her own fish, used to top squares of the sourdough and make for fabulous canapés. The smoked mackerel comes in the form of a pate, teamed with horseradish sauce (£4.95), and the oak and juniper smoked salmon sees horseradish and pickles for an extra lift (£6.50).
The famed meatballs of yesteryear’s menu have stayed! I was very pleased to learn this, as they are such a staple of the pub’s menu. Kerri has given the dish a slight facelift, so to speak. The components are similar though slight tweaks sees the dish now listed as Swedish meatballs cooked in beer and white sauce, creamed potatoes, vegetables, lingonberry jam and pickles. Not only gluten free, but affordable too at £9.95.
The falafel craze that hit Brighton so wholeheartedly of recent years missed me out. Well, truthfully I avoided it, as it’s not usually my taste. Saying this, I tentatively gave the Malmø falafel a try. Named after the Swedish city, Kerri presents fried beetroot falafel alongside a warm quinoa salad, tahina sauce, rocket and pickles (£9.95). It’s definitely a winner for me.
Finally, if that wasn’t enough, we are tempted into tasting The Scandi burger (£8.45). This is not for the faint of heart. A beef patty topped with meatballs, lingonberry jam, jarlsberg cheese, tomato chutney, smoked paprika mayo and pickles makes sure you will not be hungry after demolishing one of these.
The Northern Lights’ food, as their invite suggested, is ‘handmade’ and ‘locally sourced’. If I were to suggest anything after my visits to this beautiful pub, it would be to ‘go Nordic!’
Northern Lights, 6 Little East Street, Brighton, BN1 1HT