brighton food rocks

we spent a few days in brighton last week and ate very well, thanks to the recommendations of friends, a bit of research and a few return visits to old favourites.

we kicked off with brunch at bill’s. i still love visiting here but was glad we were there mid-week as the queue for a table (on a tuesday lunchtime!) moved quickly. david had a tomatoey moroccan chicken and chickpea dish which was served mixed in with couscous – the flavours were fresh and spicy and it was a perfect reminder that this is the sort of dish i should be making to brighten up my packed lunch rota of recipes. i had bill’s take on a chicken ceaser salad which had the additions of crispy bacon and a poached egg. very nice. sadly the treacle tart we ordered for pudding was dreadful – a sticky jelly texture and a flavour of honey and lemon. as well as warning you off the tart, i should mention that bill’s is a very child-friendly place which may or may not be your cup of tea.

supper on our first night was at terre a terre. this award-winning vegetarian restaurant is a gem and the sort of place that i think everyone should visit so they can experience vegetarian cooking at it’s most delicious and innovative. be warned though, the dishes have frivolous names and some people find the descriptions over the top and/or impenetrable (just ask your waiter to translate if you get stuck trying to work out what to expect!)

having nibbled on some deep-fried parmesan-coated green olives, stuffed with lemon ricotta, i chose indian inspired dishes for my meal. idli pom (steamed idlis – a fluffy savoury “cake” – served with a yellow dal, tamarind tomatoes and a fresh coconut chutney) followed by uttapum [sic] and dhudi (an uttapam is like a dosa pancake and this was served with pieces of dhudi gourd, which had been hollowed out and filled with mangosteen masoor dal, and a fresh mango chutney). both were delicious and a reminder of just how wonderful  vegetarian (in fact both dishes were vegan) indian food usually is.

david’s starter was smoked sakuri soba  - a cold noodle dish packed with vegetable spaghetti, tofu, nuts, pomegranate seeds, bean shoots and served with a miso and mirin dressing. this was lovely but his main course was the star of the meal - better batter and lemony yemeni relish. this is a vegetarian take on fish n chips with buttermilk-soaked halloumi in chip shop batter taking centre stage. the halloumi was moist and flavoursome and worked wonderfully well in this “fish supper”, really making me think about how imaginatively, or not, i use vegetarian ingredients.

we were both full at this stage but managed to share a portion of the earl grey soaked prunes and frangipane tartine which was served with amaretto ice cream. i will be trying to recreate the tartine as i have several packs of prunes in my cupboards which need using (other recipe suggestions welcome!).

supper on our second evening was at the gingerman. this was my first visit to any of this well thought of group of restaurants and both david and i left both sated and impressed.

the menu is short and prices are good value. i started with a beautifully cooked mackerel fillet which had the slightly scorched and crispy skin which contrasts so well with the oily flesh of the fish. a fennel and orange salad was the perfect accompaniment, brightening everything up. david’s starter was equally good, a moist rabbit terrine, studded with asparagus and black truffle and served with a pickled shallot and pea shoot salad.

we both chose meaty main courses – an olive crusted rump of lamb for me, which was served with a small slice of potato galette and an aubergine and roasted garlic purée; beef with wilted spring greens and cauliflower tempura for david. both pieces of meat were incredibly tender, moist and full of flavour.

puddings were particularly good. i had apple beignets (apple rings, dipped in batter and deep-fried) with cider sabayon and calvados ice cream and david had mango and honeycomb trifle (the honeycomb was served in nuggets on top of a trifle that had the most intense mango flavour) with passion fruit sauce.

we had superb service at each of these places and, in the case of terre a terre and the gingerman, ate faultless food. both of these restaurants are places to which i would happily travel so i could eat their food. i’ve done this before for terre a terre, i expect i’ll do it for the gingerman. 

bill's produce store

the depot, 100 north road, brighton bn1 1ye

tel: 01273 692894 

terre a terre

71 east street, brighton, bn1 1hq

tel: 01273 729051

the gingerman

21a norfolk square, brighton bn1 2pd

tel: 01273 326688