A true monster of a pub, hidden away so you’d hardly notice it, The Walrus is a new addition to Brighton.

It used to be The Smugglers but has been transformed.

I came across it almost by accident as I took a lunchtime stroll along the seafront. Spotting a pub sign up a side street my interest was piqued and I took a closer look.

Walking in from the sunshine I was astonished by how dark it was inside – seriously, even allowing for the fact it was a bright day, it was like stepping into the Black Hole of Calcutta.

It was so dark I was immediately transformed into a vegetarian. I only ever order meat from the menu but before my eyes had adjusted to the gloom I’d ordered something linked with a smashed avocado.

The full contents of the £6.95 sandwich were courgette, falafel, dukkha, mint and coriander – I know about a few herbs and I once had courgettes with a pie but the other things left me in the metaphorical dark.

I do know that when it arrived it was toasted and far too healthy for me. The salad accompanying it included pomegranate pips in a bird nest creation of dry coleslaw – all very strange. I ate it, but it really wasn’t my thing.

Luckily for me, ordering a beverage was not left to luck in the dark as I was offered a taste.

However, I must have been feeling adventurous as I went for a mango-infused guest Belgian beer. Produced by London Road Brew House the mango Saison is 5.1 per cent proof and costs a fiver. A tasty pint with an aftertaste so thick you could cut it with a knife.

Selecting a seat from the hundreds available I was taken aback how quiet it was, even for a lunchtime.

The helpful, friendly bearded barman in shorts explained. Apparently they’d normally open at 11am but had been delayed to noon because the no-good cleaners failed to show up – he, therefore, had been forced to step in.

By now he’d put his duster down but was still more than happy to busy himself with a multitude of tasks while he wasn’t actually serving.

You are surrounded by a mass of dark wood and wall decorations. On some seating there is a massive expanse of what looks like green leather, elsewhere the covering looks like red velvet – so, a bit like the Houses of Parliament but without the uncouth behaviour.

I decided to take a good look around, and I’m so glad I did.

First I visited a very strange bar at the back with a mannequin barman from yesteryear – there was also a young woman carrying out a survey with white glass globes and strange chequered pieces of paper taped to every wall – very strange but she was smiley and pleasant, unfortunately she didn’t have enough English to explain what was going on.

Up a different flight of stairs I came across a grand restaurant which runs the full depth of the building, right out to the spectacular bay window on the first floor. A sight to behold.

Up again into this Tardis of a place I came upon a superbly light and bright terraced-type area under the eaves. This is in complete contrast to the olde worlde darkness downstairs.

Light and airy with flowers everywhere and even an old bike – it reminded me of the Argus office I’m allowed to visit occasionally. It’s so nice you forget whether you’re inside or out.

Walking back down I accidentally overshot the ground floor bar and ended up in the basement. Lo and behold down here there’s a whole other venue – perfect for bands and dancing.

The place is full of surprises and absolutely immense.

I’m informed it’s swing on a Wednesday, salsa on Thursday, with other bands on Friday and Saturday evenings. They will even teach you to dance before the main event – though they might meet their match with me.

You will never visit a more decorated pub – take my advice and dive into the Tardis that is The Walrus.


Decor: ★★★★★

Remarkable and the place is never ending – just try counting the pictures

Drink: ★★★★☆

I’m glad I was felt adventurous, a tasty, fruity craft beer

Price: ★★★☆☆

No change from £5 for the pint, but not unexpected

Atmosphere: ★★☆☆☆

Quiet at lunchtime but it must buzz when it’s full

Staff: ★★★★☆

Attentive, chatty and cheery