“ Address: Food for Friends,17-18 Prince Albert Street,The Lanes, Brighton, BN1 1HF „
On a weekend break to Brighton I had spotted this unusually named restaurant and we popped in on the off chance that they had a table on the Saturday night. Unfortunately they were full, but we returned on Monday afternoon for lunch. As we hadn't booked we were asked to take a seat until the manager came along to seat us. This only took a few minutes but we did feel like we had been made to sit in the naughty corner for having the audacity to turn up without booking.
The restaurant is not large but does cover several premises, it is quite cramped inside but the décor is contemporary with large food pictures on the wall, which I think represent dishes on the menu. There is a small seating area by the entrance and a modern, wooden bar. I don't think you would stand or sit at the bar, as space is at a premium. The restaurant claims to be Brighton's original vegetarian restaurant and has been established since 1981, it is based in the heart of The Lanes, Brighton's boutique shopping and restaurant district.
We were offered drinks as we sat down, the manager informed us that they had in local organic wines, as well a local champagne cider available. Never having had a champagne cider before I plumped for this while my boyfriend just had a diet coke. Champagne cider tastes like appley champagne (not really surprising!), and I found it very drinkable. We hadn't been planning on a starter, but I persuaded my friend to share a portion of Tofu Pockets (£6.45). This was two stuffed Tofu parcels - one with rice and mushrooms, the other with rice and butternut squash with chilli. They both had an Asian dressing and were served with pickled ginger, cucumber and some avocado and enoki mushrooms. I think this was a very delicious starter, either for yourself or to share. The parcels weren't drastically dissimilar, but offered interesting Japanese inspired flavours and I really enjoyed it. Other starters included Goat's cheese pannacota, a ricotta and artichoke bake, tahini dips and soup. Starter prices were all around the £5-6 mark. They also offer nibbles such as breads, nuts and vegetable crisps.
For his main my friend went for the Mexican Rosti (£11.45), the vegetable rosti was served with a pinto bean casserole, avocado, a cucumber and tomato salsa with jalapeños and sour cream. He really enjoyed it and I had a taste of it and agreed with him that is was a good mix of Mexican inspired flavours. I chose the risotto fritters (£12.45), which seemed to be a popular choice as I overheard quite a few people ordering them at neighbouring tables (I said it was cramped). There were two good sized fritters and with the risotto rice was butternut squash, they were served with a dressed rocket salad, marinated artichoke and roasted aubergine. I enjoyed them and found the portion to be a good size for lunch and didn't quite finish it, having had the starter. I love aubergine, but to be honest, I didn't think it went with the dish, the flavours didn't really complement. Other mains included Grilled Middle Eastern Aubergine Stacks and Portabello with Fine Beans and Pesto, typical prices for a main course is around £12. They also do a range of side dishes such as salads and wedges.
The restaurant also offers a special kiddie menu and seemed to have booster seats, paper and crayons to hand. They is also a small, good value lunch menu and they offer afternoon teas.
This was actually a rather pricey lunch but I was impressed with the menu. They had made an effort to get beyond typical veggie staples without trying too hard and taking the 'wacky' route. The menu was mainly seasonal, and it seemed local produce was used where possible. It was clearly marked where dishes were suitable for vegans, or contained nuts or were gluten free. This is a good 'occasion' restaurant, for me a little bit too pricey to be a regular restaurant (if it were more local, at least), should I be back in Brighton soon, I would like to go back.