Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Review - Food For Friends - Brighton UK - $$-$$$$

Mid September and the UK is serving up delicious weather (no, really!); my gracious and charming host serving up perfectly poached eggs; Brighton beach is serving up all manner of things (see below); and Food For Friends are serving up great vegetarian food.

Open since 1981 you would assume these guys know what they are doing, and they do.
I have to admit, usually the idea of going to a vegetarian restaurant conjures up images of fake meat (what is the point?), hippies and kooky decor. Not so here.

Food For Friends is bright, with a modern decor of wooden furniture, clean lines, fresh flowers on all the tables and the wait staff dressed in uniform black.
The service is attentive without being overbearing and the restaurant being three quarters full over lunchtime is proof it is one of Brighton's favourites.

The menu is coded, as you would expect, with info to let you know what is vegetarian, vegan, gluten free etc and features lots of tahini.
The usual array of dips and mezze for starters are on the menu and the mains range from salads to risottos, from curries to stuffed mushrooms, and has a big enough selection to satisfy most appetite urges, without being overwhelming.
Drinks on offer include standard fizzies, hand-pressed juices and a comprehensive wine list, that many were indulging in around me.
The lunchtime 'specials' list had a few dishes that formed part of the main menu, which I found curious, but it was also where I found my choice.

I ordered a sparkling blood orange and mandarin juice (organic of course), that was very lightly carbonated, naturally sweet and the ingredients on the bottle listed: blood orange, mandarin and water - huzzah! My companion tried the blueberry and pomegranate hand-pressed juice, which was a little sweeter, but yummy all the same.
We both ordered the pita pocket stuffed with sundried tomato and basil falafels, tahini dip and the clincher - grilled haloumi cheese. It was accompanied by dressed salad leaves, couscous based tabbouleh and a garlic yoghurt dip on the side. The cheese was salty and delicious and the tabbouleh obviously made that day.
Price was eight pounds ninety-five pence, just shy of twenty dollars in my money, which I wouldn't normally spend on any old lunch at home, but this was completely worth it, as the meal was massive, fresh and delicious (often hard to find in the UK).
Dessert was completely unnecessary and we walked back out into the sunshine and seaside air completely sated.

On the Matt Preston rating scale I give Food For Friends 4 cravats out of 5.

Where it lost points? My falafels were a little overcooked, it was a bit light on the tahini dip (but the flavour was good) and the pita pocket used could have come from the supermarket down the road.

I highly recommend visiting if you find yourself in Brighton, but be warned you MUST book for dinner or you'll miss out. The locals aren't silly, they know when they're onto a good thing.

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