“ Food Type: / City: Brighton „
I had wanted to try Brighton's Terre a Terre, a long standing, quirky vegetarian restaurant, for many years. A recent weekend break gave me the opportunity and to avoid disappointment I booked online for a Sunday night visit. This was a quick, painless procedure with both an e-mail and a SMS confirmation appearing in the appropriate in-box within minutes. The restaurant has been going for 17 years and has won a host of local and national awards and accolades. When we arrived we were seated immediately, the restaurant was only about half full (although it has quite a large space and goes back a lot further than you realise) so we had a bit of choice and got a four seater table to ourselves.
The décor inside was a dark maroon colour (although when we were outside the following day we thought it looked more of a dark pink - it could have been the lighting), very modern but still retaining a relaxing atmosphere. We were presented with menus and a wine list and asked to consider the Tapas Special Menu. The main menu included some tapas style dishes, as well as conventional starters and mains. The mains are about £13.95 each, with starters and tapas starting from £5 each, with nibbles and breads being slightly less. The menu is very extensive but also fairly clear, however on the recommendation of our fantastic server, Milo we went for the special Tapas menu. This included a sharing platter of their tapas selection, chunky chips and a carafe of wine for £36 altogether.
We went for the white wine option - a Puglian un-oaked chardonnay described as 'peachy' on the menu. We thought it delicious, on the fruity side, but very drinkable. The tapas selection arrived and a lot of work had gone into the preparation and presentation of it. Milo went through each dish with us explaining what they were. My friend's highlight was 'Smoked Sakuri Mai Fun', a cold starter made with rice noodles and vegetable spaghetti (kohlrabi, mooli, carrot) served with a miso and mirin dressing. This was twirled into a small cone shape, and was delicious with subtle asian flavours, but no out and out spice, it was served alongside small pieces of toasted smoked tofu. For me the Baby Batters were the favourite (only just!) - They were buttermilk soaked pieces of halloumi cheese in 'chip shop' batter served with a tartare sauce and a vodka chilli shot. The shot can be drunk (like a mini Bloody Mary) or used as a dip. The soaking of the halloumi in the buttermilk meant it wasn't as salty as usual, and with its unique texture and homemade batter it was tasty and interesting, without being greasy. There is a main course based around this, and I would definitely consider ordering it if I got the opportunity to return.
Other items included raw maki sushi rolls served with a number of interesting pickles and a smidgeon of extremely potent wasabi sauce that made my eyes water. The uttapam was another hit with us - a little Indian crumpet that used spices for flavour rather than heat, and had a mild, but tasty curry filling. There was also a hearty aubergine ganoush dip served with crispy, salty homemade breads (like tortilla chips, but...not), wasabi cashews and interesting polenta and sweetcorn cakes that looked a lot like fish fingers. The latter served with a chunky and tasty avocado dip and added a sweeter dimension to the platter. We absolutely loved the platter and there was not a dud dish to choose from. The chips were certainly chunky, in fact I would venture that they really should have been classified as wedges as they seemed to be about a quarter of a potato each. The generous portion was served with garlic mayonnaise, but I believe you can have other dips. I hadn't expected to feel as full as I did after this; I think the complex and varied flavours give the impression that you have eaten more than you actually have.
Deciding to make a night of it we ordered a further carafe of wine (£13.95) and I perused the dessert menu for sometime. I didn't really need a dessert as I felt fairly full but I plumped for the Nuts About Chocolate Fondant, mainly because I love chocolate fondants. This wasn't a real chocolate fondant though as the chocolate didn't ooze out when you broke into the casing - this was more of a rich chocolate brownie. I was served with praline ice cream which had a piece of peanut brittle sticking out of it, a blob of soft caramel fudge (which wasn't particularly fudge like) and a smear of banana crème which tasted nicer then it looked. All in all it was a sweet, rich dessert that almost killed me to finish. I managed it somehow, without exploding. The dessert was £7.95.
The service here was very good; the staff were very friendly and knowledgeable about the menu, confidently answering our questions and making recommendations. In fact our server bought over a copy of the restaurant's own cookbook for us to look at after we had asked about how often the menu changed. Generally everything seemed to be in season and was locally sourced. Dishes were original and they have deliberately shied away from safe and typical veggie staples. Vegan and gluten free dishes and options are clearly marked and they can advise nut allergy sufferers. The raw foods selection was limited, but I think if you pre-warn them they would be able to produce something from their back catalogue. Dishes were well thought out so that there was a good balance of flavours and textures. The menu did tend to get a bit fancy at times by giving dishes quirky names and complicated descriptions with lots of seemingly random ingredients. However, as the dishes all seemed to work, I cannot really criticise, and your server can always clarify what certain things are.
Lavatories were downstairs (although there is a disabled one on the ground floor), were clean and stocked with the necessary supplies. I recommend booking to avoid disappointment.
We booked into Terre a Terre last week, we were on our Honeymoon and my new Hubby thought it would be nice to take me to a Vegetarian restaurant as generally when we eat out there are only a couple of vege choices on the menu, and we like to eat out a lot! I have to say that this place is fantastic, I couldn't decide what to eat, a liked the whole menu, so we went for the Tapas menu deal that included wine and deserts. The organic wine was supurb, and the Tapas that came quickly after couldn't be faulted. The selection was perfect and hopefully the receipe book thats due out later in the year will be even better. The service second to none. The restaurant was very busy and turning people away who hadn't booked, so reserving a table is a must. Even though it was that busy nothing was too much trouble for the staff. If you do go to Terre a Terre try the Vodka Soaked Cherries with doghnuts and dipping chocolate it is divine.
As a fomer student in Brighton, a frequnt visitor and a vegetarian food lover, I wish to comment on how Brighton caters for vegetarians.
In short, Brighton is a fantastic place to be if you are Vegetarian. There are a whole range of cafes and restuarants which will cater for you needs. For the purpose of this review, I will comment simply on completely vegetarian eateries, but if you are in the mood for wandering, simply stroll through the North or South lanes and see what you can find, you won't be disappointed; if you wish to plan, follow my advice bellow.
Bombay Aloo Indian Vegetarian Restaurant 39, Ship St, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1AB Tel: 01273 776038
Now, this is seriously for those on a budget. You pay £5 and you get given a plate by your waiter. You then go to the buffet and take as much as you want....and eat it....and go back to the buffet and take as much as you want.....get the picture? There are a choice of around 5 different curries, chutney, salad, onion bhajis and nann. The food is not out of this world, neither is it poor. It is very satisfactory and a good place to go if you are a poor student and want a nice meal, the decor is simple but perfectly clean, the service efficient and the atmposphere pleasant. Probably not a special occasion place though.
Food for Friends Vegetarian Restaurant 18, Prince Albert St, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1HF
Located in the south lanes, Food for Friends is a great daytime or evening place to go. A few years ago, you used to be served at a buffet style counter. Now it is waiter service but the atmosphere is still casual and relaxed. A range of lighter snacks are available such as soup, Haloumi, pitta and salads or you can have a heavier meal. The Veggie roast comes highly recommended (about £8) with all manner of amazing veg piled ont to your plate. Generally, all the food is healthy and well presented, the decor is light and bright and there is a relaxed atmosphere. It is reasonable value with mains being at the most £10.
The George, Trafalgar St, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4EQ
I would highly recommend this pub if you are veggie or vegan. There is a great menu and the food is reasonably cheap (£5-£10). Choose from goats cheese dishes, veggie bangers and mash, or halloumi and mock bacon sandwiches with chips. It is a novelty to get a pub serving simply veggie food. Although the pub is not at all fancy, it has a homely feel and in the day you often see families with kids. I would say though, don't go here if you are in a rush - the food can take some time.
Terre A Terre71, East St, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1HQ Tel: 01273 729051
This is slightly more expenisve (mains about £12m starters and desserts £5). It is the sort of restaurant I would recommend for a special occasion. It is the sort of place you would want to make a night of going; have some wine, test some starters or tapas, don't simply nip in and nip out. This place takes the boredom out of vegetarian and dispels the myth that veggie food cannot be interesting or highly tasty. The food is mainly mediterranen but a twist is added to each dish. For example, instead of just potato, they do Potato rosti with a range of different flavours added in, unusual rissottos, goats cheese with lentils. It's nota bog standard menu in any way. The decor is stylish and right for Brighton with plently of bright colours and wooden floors. Book ahead though, this gets rather busy.
Brighton is a great place to eat out. The availability of different kinds of restaurant both in type of cuisine and affordability is almost limitless. From Korean to South American or Lebanese most types of cuisines are represented. Another area where Brighton is very well catered for is that of Vegetarian/Vegan cuisine. Those of us who live down here have a great choice and Terre A Terre set just outside the famous Brighton lanes, is one of the very best not only in the town but in the country as a whole.
Terre a Terre started out in very small premises on the street leading to Brighton bus and coach station. In those days Im talking almost 10+ years ago it was a well kept local secret but soon enough its reputation for inventive high quality vegetarian food that appealed to veggies and non veggies alike spread and its success forced the restaurant to physically spread with it. It wasnt long before they had exhausted the cramped surrounding and that a new larger restaurant was opened on 71 East Street right in the centre of historic Regency Brighton.
The new premises are a vast improvement. The locale feels very roomy (two dining rooms around a central bar area) and airy, the décor very minimalist and modern in style. This is complemented by an antique stripped and varnished wooden floor and large glass doors at the very back of the dining area that in the summer open up into a garden area where more seating space is available.
The furnishing are of good quality both functional and attractive although the tables could be slightly larger when faced with some of the dishes and varied accompaniment that are presented during the meal. I guess the popularity of the place lead to the most cost effective use of space.
During the day the main eating area is infused with plenty of natural light and in the evenings the subdued spot lighting complemented by small fragrant candles on the tables and the cool colour (shades of Terracotta, Cream and Burnt Siena) scheme give a very warm comfortable relaxed ambience to the place.
If the weather is up to it a filling meal can be walked off along the seafront only a few minutes away.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
If your idea of veggie food is a green salad and an omelette then Terre A Terre will be a real culture shock!
Heavily influenced (but not exclusively) by both Mediterranean and North African fusion cuisine the dishes on offer provide extraordinary variety.
The menu changes two/three times a year trying to incorporate seasonal availability of ingredients etc. On our last visit we plumped for the selection of starters a Tapas style large dish for two (£14 but more than enough for two hungry souls!) including a taster of many of the things on the menu. This can include many of the following depending when visit. Try such delights as Zhuganoush char-grilled aubergine sole with griddled minted halloumi and roasted red pepper topped off with a poached egg, hoisin tofu, roast red pepper with lemon doused leaves, succulent green and black olives, caper berries, savoury soba noodles with tofu, tangy anti pasti, kalamata coka with minted feta and rocket pesto, fresh rocket salad, soy steeped deep fried hoi sin sesame toasted tofu, sherry and balsamic vinegar coated sun-dried tomatoes marinated in chilli oil and a hint of lemon, wild mushroom pate, couscous, herb infused feta cheese bites and deep fried lavash tandoor bread crisps, drenched deep fried chick pea and sesame socca (Provencal pancake) served with charred and marinated artichoke, aubergine, capsicum, courgette and onion with muhammara puree you get the idea!
Most of the tasters in the mixed starter dish can be ordered as individual starters or as a main and they are usually served with tasty focaccia or other choices of bread with wholemeal and crusty white.
Portions are generous and can be accompanied by a variety of pickles sauces, dressing and breads. The particular selection of starters that we had was so filling that next a difficult decision had to be made, you can either go for a main course risking to be too full to sample the delicious deserts.
If youre feeling ravenous the substantial main courses can include Twice Baked Camembert Soufflé or currently the exquisitely described Buttered Squeak and Shropshire Sausage- Caerphilly and Wenesleydale, grain mustard and thyme croquets, beautifully crisped coated in grated focaccia crumbs, sitting on buttered squeaked leaves, truffled potato and celeriac puree and red onion reduction in a Cabernet sauce topped with a cap of flash fried woven strawed celeriac.
However delicious the main courses are it would be a mistake to miss out on the deserts. Terre A Terre are famous for their delicious offerings at the end of the meal. My advice would be to indulge yourself with the home-made Rum Truffles, Mexican style vodka cherry/chocolate and cinnamon churros or Victoria panini dessert citrus cheesecake sandwiched between hazelnut tuilles served with kumel spiced pickled plumes, Figgie Feuille and Candied Coriander Leaf spiced figs and soft cheese enhanced by a pistachio emulsion and crecy cardamom syrup and served with chestnut honey ice cream or how about Knickerboka Freddo, a refreshing combination of goosebery crumble with clotted ice cream, elderflower syrup and cobnut toffee crisp Yum! I had the Truffles delicious!
The food is always perfectly presented visually exciting, combining and blending vibrant colours and aromatic smells and you know that all the food has been lovingly prepared.
The menu is well laid out and contains a good amount of detail about the food and drinks if any questions remains and you dont know your Kumel from your Churros then the staff seem to be knowledgeable about the different recipes and the provenance of the ingredients however if they cant answer a query they will be quite happy to find out from the chef.
On the night we were there a couple on the table next to us had some very specific dietary requirement and the serving staff were excellent in indicating what dishes on the menu were appropriate and dealt very courteously with them even though it was a particularly busy time. In general the service is excellent.
The owners of the restaurant, Phillip Taylor and Amanda Powley, take their business very seriously and are totally committed to the providing the very best Vegetarian and Vegan food, they ensure that the ingredients where possible are organic/non-genetically modified and are sources locally or by Fair Trade. They have shown their environmental credentials by recently converted the restaurant to environmentally responsible electricity provided by Ecotricity, Europe's first and largest 'green' electricity company. This change means that the restaurant saves on over 116 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year at no extra cost.
The environmentally responsible policy extends to the drinks list too, which includes a good selection of organic, vegetarian, vegan and biodynamic wines (both new world and old world), as well as organic beers and ciders. Wine price ranges from £12-£25 per bottle.
PRICE, FACILITIES AND SO ON
Considering the quality of the food and the fact that Terre A Terre features in The Good Food Guide and The Red Guide from Michelin as well as having won numerous awards- second place in the 2003 Observer Food Awards for Best Restaurant- the prices are reasonable a filling two/three course meal with drinks will probably set you back between £30-£40 per person (starters £5, mains £11, deserts £5). All major credit cards are accepted.
They have disabled access and do cater very well for kids. A kids menu is available if asked for and for the really young they provide organic baby food free of charge as well as wipes etc for baby changing. The staff also gives you the impression that children are welcome quite refreshing for a British restaurant!
The restaurant gets very busy in the evening and also has a thriving lunchtime clientele especially on Sundays so booking a table is essential, at least few days before you plan to go. Opening times are Mon 6pm-10.30pm, Tue-Sun 12pm-10.30pm and since it is in the centre of town it has good bus and taxi links although the train station is a fair walk away.
Terre A Terre is quite simply the best vegetarian restaurant Ive been too indeed it is one of the best restaurants Ive been too. If you want to show a committed carnivore what veggie cooking can really be about this is the perfect place to go. Terre A Terre provides a lively, classy but informal setting it is ideal for a romantic meal or for a big celebratory dinner.
For more information contact Terre A Terre direct
Telephone: 01273 729051 (Fax: 01273 327561)
Website: www.terreaterre.co.uk (the website is currently under construction)
I must go again soon!
Thanks for reading and rating this review.