Adieu, Nordic Coffee Collective & Welcome to The Longhouse Cafe
I’m really appreciating all the new places popping up in Brighton at the moment, although it’s always sad to see somewhere great close. Back in March, Brighton said farewell its beloved Nordic Coffee Collective, a tiny independent coffee shop on York Place, opposite St Peter’s church and famous for its cinnamon buns. In its place, The Longhouse Cafe appeared; an entirely plant-based cafe with a mission to support small local traders in the community.
A different feel
After giving it a few weeks to settle in, I made my way down to check what the new team had done with the place and whether the food was worth writing home about. Chris, the owner, is standing behind the counter when I walk in and the glorious sunny day seems to match his personality.
On my last visit to the Nordic Coffee Collective, the windows had been all steamed up and the room was mainly white and grey hues, making it somewhere all too easy to walk past and miss. However, now, with the sun shining through the clean windows and the door welcomingly ajar, there’s a whole different feel about place.
Out front, Chris has placed vases of brightly coloured roses on top of two old English school desks. Bright woolly blankets are thoughtfully laid on the backs of the chairs, behind the desks (because, obviously, you never know with English weather).
Everything is plant based – even the ceilings
Inside the decor has been given some much needed zhuzhing. The walls are still white but now vibrant artworks, which are for sale, hang framed asymmetrically on the walls and from the ceiling there ar a number of hanging plants provided by the local indoor plant specialist, Spiderplant. These are also for sale, as are the cactus plants on the table from another local trader – Hicacti.
I sit and chat with Chris and he reels off all the small local traders he’s working with; there are so many that I give up writing them all down and take flyers for them all from the counter instead. Tea comes from Vrac in Lewes, the coffee from Horsham Coffee Roaster, then there’s the food; vegan cookies from Viva Los Vegan in Brighton, vegan doughnuts from Glazed Coffee and the raw cakes Chris makes himself.
More than just a cafe
I also learn of plans for The Longhouse Cafe to host all sorts of events and workshops too. The list includes film screenings, feminism meetups, as well as a vegan wine & cheese pairing nights. It all sounds right up my street and I’m excited to share this news with all my vegan friends.
I’ve come for breakfast but the cafe offers a variety of lunch items as well. There’s cheesecake, curries, salads, mezze and smoothies that are all gluten-free. Plus wheat-free bread. I order my go-to “avocado toast”, £5.30. This one comes with lemon, fresh chilli & pumpkin seeds on sourdough and there’s the option to add tofu for £1.50, which I decline having never had a liking for it.
The sourdough is delicious, tangy and crunchy and the pumpkin seeds add a lovely texture to the smashed avocado. My only request would be for a more generous wedge of lemon. As @brightonlottie rightly pointed out: “a slice is no good for man or beast unless in a G&T”.
There’s a first time for everything
Drinks-wise Chris suggested the old tree seasonal cordial – £2.50, which is made with nettles and produced locally, just round the corner from the cafe. It comes out served in a 100% recycled glass jar with a long glass straw. To my surprise (because I’ve never had nettles to drink) it tastes gorgeous, a delicate flavour and very refreshing.
Whilst I’m enjoying my breakfast I hear Chris talking to two older ladies who are visiting Brighton for the day. They’ve walked in expecting a cup of normal “builders tea” not realising the cafe is 100% plant-based. Chris offers them tea with soya milk which they turn their nose up at first. Not being one to give up, he gently coerces them into trying it, offering them their drinks for free if they don’t like it. Smart chap, I like the way he works. Sure enough, the ladies drink their tea and haven’t a complaint.
PRICE: £7.80 (1 breakfast, 1 drink)
RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
I really loved the chilled out vibe here and the fact that Chris has worked hard to support so many small local businesses. Even if you’re not vegan I recommend checking it out. There’s so much going on – you’d be mad not to have a nosey! If you’re interested in upcoming events and workshops, the best way to stay in the loop with all the goings on is via The Longhouse Facebook page.
The Longhouse Cafe
16 York Place,
*Disclosure: My breakfast was complimentary in exchange for an honest and fair review.