Sunday 26 April 2015

Terre à Terre, Brighton

A stones throw from the Brighton seafront, on the edge of the famous Laines, lies Terre à Terre. I loved it.

For a restaurant whose name means ‘down to earth’, the menu descriptions are some of the longest and most bizarre I’ve ever read; the seasoned diner in me wants to bemoan the number of ingredients and flavours in each dish but the fact is, for the most part, they all tasted great together.

One example, for just three finger sized ‘Arepas’, a seemingly schizo farrago of flavours included a sweet chilli sauce (called “chilly chelly jelly”); a kind of guacamole (“avocado coriander chilli garlic hash”); a “fresh and zesty oregano and lime mojo” AND a “cheddar fondue”. If that was not enough flavours, a sprinkling of spice was added and a wedge of lime provided. Crazy on paper but entirely compos mentis on the palate.

Although taking up a single shop frontage, the space goes back a long way. By the time I’d finished my lunch, all three rooms and the garden terrace were full; an obvious testament to the quality of a well-established (opened 1993), independent restaurant located in an area with a lot of competition.

What Michelin say, ‘Relaxed, friendly restaurant decorated in warm burgundy colours. Appealing menu of generous, tasty, original vegetarian dishes which include items from Japan, China and South America. Mini épicerie sells wine, pasta and chutney.

The Olives, stuffed with ricotta and garlic, before being breaded and fried were, to quote Peter Kay, “a taste sensation”. I made these (using the recipe in the Terre à Terre cookbook) once for a dinner party; they were great but fiddly so I never did them again but having tasted the real deal, I’m going to give them another go!

The Kraken Kodachi Churros and Peeking Buns were also excellent. For me the ‘Appetisers and Companion Dishes’ section of the menu was definitely more interesting than the mains. When I return (and I’m keen to go back), I’ll probably skip the main and make myself a ‘Tasting Menu’ of the smaller dishes.

The descriptions below are as they appear on the menu.

Deep Fried Fat Grana Padano Green Olives – stuffed with ricotta, garlic, chives and lemon zest.

Kraken Kodachi Churros – hot savoury churros sticks made with black and white sesame seeds, wakame and shishimi togarashi spice and spinach rolled in salty nori kombu and black sesame flakes served with miso mirin mayonnaise.

Arepas – deep fried sweetcorn chermoula chips served with chilli chelly jelly, avocado coriander chilli garlic hash and a fresh and zesty oregano and lime mojo and cheddar fondue.

Peeking Buns – steamed rice buns stuffed with Szechuan marinated halloumi with kimchi Chinese cabbage, lapsang souchong pickled watermelon & cucumber, a miso chilli sauce and spring onion garnish.

Fancy Nancy – coco cardamom fried spiced rice with spring onion and yuzu palm beanshoots swerved with a salad of lychee, coriander, mint and pickled lotus root and a pinda peanut laksa, finished with yuzu crème fraiche, Pendang pickled chilli sambal with a chilli flash fried egg, peanut cumin and onion seed crumble and tapioca sea salad cracker.

Hot Roast Hispi Cabbage with kimchi puree, fresh mint, coriander and plump blackberries.

GoldDish Bowl – apple and bancha bubble brew sorbet with meringue brûlée on ginger nut sweet pastry disc with Thai crecy tentacles above yuzu curd, Chantenay cream and Thai basil sours.

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