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Restaurants of Brighton & Hove

Café Nia

87-88 Trafalgar Street
Tel: +44 (0)1273 671 371
Guide price: £40

One recent Friday I found myself in a bit of a quandary - a foodie friend had come to Brighton for the weekend, and I had no idea where to take her for a decent dinner. Seven Dials restaurant had been a huge disappointment on an overpriced visit during the summer, I had already booked a Christmas meal at Due South and Momma Cherri's was booked up for the next eight weeks!

Brunch at Bill's had impressed my friend massively that morning and I wanted to keep the momentum going. So it was that while wandering aimlessly through the North Laine, we noticed the cosy candlelight of Nia, a corner cafe that I had always put down to a run-of-the-mill panini and latte sort of place. I couldn't have been more wrong. From the moment we were seated at our charming scrubbed wood table, we knew we were in for a memorable evening.

Nia is one of those great day-to-evening places, with the tea lights and background music making it wonderfully romantic once the sun goes down. Our water appeared in a gorgeous little white jug, our icy cold French rose in a stylish cooler. And with a menu offering a small but carefully selected choice of dishes, we suddenly became very hungry indeed.

I opted for a Grilled Goat's Cheese Salad with Roasted Pears and Hazelnuts; she a Chicken Liver Terrine with Ciabatta Toasts. For mains we both went for a perfect rainy-day dish, Slow-roast Belly Pork with Mustard Potatoes, and a shared side dish of Char-grilled Vegetables. Both courses were outstanding - particularly the pork, which was roasted to tender perfection and could have been eaten with a spoon.

Stuffed now (the portions are very generous) but still willing ourselves to try the puds, we went for Treacle Tart with Heavenly Vanilla Custard and a Dark Chocolate Mousse with Shortbread, both washed down with glasses of Muscat.

Getting back up hilly Trafalgar Street after such a fantastic spread was no mean feat, but the feast we'd had was definitely worth it. Nia is a true hidden gem, really cosy, romantic and laid-back with a chef who takes excellent, top-quality ingredients and treats them with the simplicity and respect they deserve. I have already ear-marked it for future visits from parents and birthdays - highly recommended.

£40 per person for 3 courses including wine, dessert wine and service.

Suzanne Lindfors

Dec 2006

Guide price £40
KEY Licensed
Read the Virtual Brighton review
Read the
VB review
Takeaway menu available
Designated No Smoking area
No Smoking
Kids are very welcome
Produced by NTD