Terre á Terre, converting meat-eaters for 21 years
Brighton is a mecca for vegetarian restaurants, and we are spoilt for places that go beyond the usual fodder. Nice enough as a goat’s cheese & caramelised onion tart or risotto are, it’s rather arduous when you find them on every menu in town. Thankfully, Brighton has Terre á Terre in The Lanes and its notoriety is such that it attracts meat-eaters as well as vegetarians. Feeding its customers for over 21 years, it has become one of Brighton’s great institutions.
I was invited down by marketing manager Olivia, to sample the new summer tapas tasting plate, which gives a flavour of the a la carte menu catering for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets.
Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted by several of the Terre á Terre team, which were no doubt briefed to expect us. The atmosphere in the restaurant was just right, with a light buzz of chatter and tea light candles dotted on tables to warm the dark cherry-painted walls. I wasn’t a fan of the orange pine wood tables and chairs though, which cheapened the décor somewhat.
Vicci was introduced as our waitress for the evening and she was, to our pleasure, the perfect host. Knowledgeable of the current menu and confident listing the extensive ingredients in the dishes, as well as regular customer favourites; she was also personable to just to the right level – making the meal, as much as the food to come did.
Before eating we sipped a couple of cocktails. I went for the Cucumber Margarita, £8.75 and my guest requested the Old Favourite Cosmopolitan, £8.90 but with pomegranate instead of cranberry. Looking good and with well-balanced flavours we were off to a good start.
The Soup of the Day, £7 sounded too-good-to-miss, so, as well as the tasting platter that followed, we ordered a bowl to share between two. Made with tomato, chickpea, coconut yoghurt & ras el hanout (a North African spice mix, which plays a similar role in North African cuisine, as garam masala does in Indian). The soup was fragrant with the kind of spicy kick that makes you sit up and take notice. The accompanying homemade bread was nothing short of divine too; including a soft and squidgy flavoursome pumpkin bread and herby focaccia, with a rock salt sprinkle that was dangerously moreish. The side of butter was a little bit special too, seasoned with sumac and dill, it had a hint of citrus flavour running through it. It’s not often that soup can be called a showstopper, but on this visit, this was the case.
The Terre à Tapas Sharing Plate, £14.50pp felt like a good option to go for, as it offered the chance to explore the tapas part of the menu and some smaller versions of the main courses. Amongst the many items on the platter were:
– Peeking buns
– Quorn & polenta croquettes – Deep fried sweetcorn chermoula chips served with chilli chelly jelly, avocado coriander chilli garlic hash and a fresh and zesty oregano and lime mojo.
– Deep-fried aubergine – Sticky gochujang baked baby Aubergine with tofu shred
– Vodka-spiked tomato, (more subtle than spiked)
– Soft buttermilk soaked halloumi dipped in chip shop batter, served with vodka-spiked preserved plum tomatoes
– Quail egg smoked over cherry wood – BBQ cherry wood smoked tofu skewers
– Steeped in miso chilli lime with ginger pickle mushroom hash and coconut Thai chilli peanut lime butter dipping sauce
– Tapioca rice cracker & red pepper skordalia
We both felt this was very rich and with so many different flavours, it was a little too much for our taste buds to handle in one go. That’s not to say individually these tapas weren’t incredible, just a little overindulgent on one plate. If I were to visit again, and I would stick to a single main course. I’ve shared the rosti from the mains on a previous visit and wished I had it all to myself. I also really enjoyed the Quorn & Polenta Croquette, which melted in the mouth.
It was also suggested by Vicci and (@wolksprano on Twitter) that we order the KFC, aka, Korean Fried Cauliflower, £9.25. So we also had this alongside the platter. The cauliflower was accompanied with sweet and sour sesame, onigiri rice, soused shiso dikon and khol rabi, pickled mirin ginger jelly and green leaf salt dried chips finished with chestnut ume plum purée. And it didn’t disappoint. The kale tissue-paper light and crisp and the cauli was firm to bite.
Despite being full already, a sweet end was needed. Having scoured the long list of temptations and unable to agree on one to share, we opted for the Raspberry Spring Thyme Berry Berry Nice, £8.90 and the Churrosimo, £8.85.
The Churrosimo was like an extravagant plate of dunking doughnuts and tasted 1,000 times better. Cinnamon sugar spice dusted the thick doughnut straws, served with vodka cherries. And a salt caramel sticky dunker and warm dark chocolate dipper sat alongside an embellishment of wild berry freeze dried crumble and extra brute cocoa powder.
But the real climax came from the Raspberry Spring Thyme Bery Nice. Reminiscent of a stunning English garden in full bloom, this was a work of art that initially felt too good to eat. Thankfully we did eat and we were rewarded with a sweet and tart balanced dessert.
PRICE: £85.25 for 2 people (including 3 cocktails)
RATING: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
Terre á Terre remains in my top two Brighton vegetarian restaurants and has firmly retained a rightful position in my Brighton & Hove Food Guide. Price-wise it’s at the higher end of the scale, but once you’ve eaten here you’ll never want to settle for the token veggie option again.
NEED TO KNOW:
Terre á Terre caters for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets and makes every effort to cater dinners with intolerances and food allergies. A full range of products are also available to purchase at the restaurant or online, including Chef made sweets, nibbles, jams, pickles, chutneys that have featured on our menu.
*Disclaimer: I was invited to review Terre Terre, but as always, my opinion isn’t swayed by freebies and you are getting my honest opinion on the whole experience.