71 East Street
Tel: 01273 729051
This vegetarian restaurant does not wear its heart on its sleeve, in fact if you were to walk in and sit down and watch the food being served you would never realise its dedication to all things non-meat. I had lunch here recently and was amazed at the variety and panache of the menu.
Situated close to the beach in the ever-popular East Street it has been a Brighton favourite for over twenty years. The front has a deli feel with jars and packets of their food for sale as well as a few tables where you can enjoy a coffee but it’s when you go further in that the restaurant really shows its colours, a large space with booths and tables and even a small outside terrace.
While perusing the menu I had a selection of nibbles that included wasabi cashews, tamari drenched roasted pumpkin and sunflowers seeds and house smoked sundried tomatoes. I particularly enjoyed the cashews and the smoked tomatoes. Neither was overpowering but both could lay claim to an eponymous identity. I chose a three-course ‘full set’ menu that offers three options for each course. The naming of each dish does not really prepare you for what’s on the plate. My starter was brûlée vous, a brilliant concoction of Grand Padano brûlée with a brittle crust, gingerbread crumbs, pickled artichokes, grilled shallots with a pear and raisin relish sitting on top and couple of tiny English muffins on the side. It tasted wonderful with contrasting sweet, tangy, crunchy and creamy flavours all at the same time. A brilliant start that looked like it had walked out of a Michelin starred eatery.
Fellow diners were being served up all sorts of beauties a popular dish seemed to be giant plate of tapas for two to share. I had order envy but this was before my main arrived. ‘Run rarebit run’ was another stunner apart from being a play on words it was a total surprise when it appeared. Sussex cheddar rarebit with cider and mustard grains crammed into a hot flowerpot, cornbread and smoked yoghurt and all sorts of other ingredients making up a kind of allotment of a plate. Very interesting textures and tastes meant every mouthful was different. This was a dish that had a deliberate intension to amuse and confuse. It really worked and for meat lovers like myself I did have to keep reminding myself this was a vegetarian restaurant, I really didn’t miss it at all. A couple of sides also made the grade; ‘top tips and pea tangle’ an asparagus and pea salad was fresh and vibrant and pea mint hash was good but a touch dry.
Dessert was also good fun. The ethos here is to provide very good food that is great value for money along with a little bit of trickery. Its not so much molecular but more slight of hand on offer here. Dessert was called Miss Marble. Snappy pistachio wafers with coconut snowballs (ice cream), Clementine spiced ice (a kind of granita) an almond freeze and ‘sparkles’. This charming tickle of a dessert also had popping candy as a dip for your ice creams and freezes. Any child (or adult in my case) would be delighted to eat this after a meal. It was light, refreshing and looked fabulous. Cheeses are local, I enjoyed the hard to find Brighton Blue that comes with lovely raisin bread.
Providing an extensive children’s menu with both vegan, organic and gluten free options ticks all the boxes for your precious little ones. It is a super problem free venue for families.
The cost for all this pretty and very tasty food was £26 for the three courses. The sort of price that means not so much a treat but more of a go whenever you like kind of place. If Terre à Terre was on my doorstep I think I’d find an excuse to be in every day. The playful nature of the food and exemplary service from all the staff and good value are three of the best reasons to go to any restaurant. If Bill and Ben the flowerpot men were real this is where they would eat every day.
And did I mention that they make their own chocolates? They do and they are brilliant too, my favourite was salted caramel. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better while I was there I discovered they have their own recipe book ‘Terre à Terre, The Vegetarian Cook Book’ by Amanda Powley and Philip Taylor. It is a thorough exploration of veggie food that looks and tastes in a class of its own, well worth a read. You can buy this online from the link below or in the restaurant priced £20.