Established in 1981, this popular vegetarian restaurant which also caters for vegans delivers excellent quality produce all year round and is a superb restaurant to visit even for those who generally eat meat.
Food For Friends is perfectly located as a refuelling spot during a day shopping in the ever popular Lanes. The building itself benefits from an attractive curved exterior which stretches around the corner of two streets. Inside the restaurant is divided into a couple of cute and tastefully done out rooms.
The decor is impressively different, from the 1970s retro avocado green walls and embossed wallpaper to large canvases that succeed in creating an aesthetically pleasing environment which complements the food.
This is one of Brighton's most popular restaurants so the clientele spans anyone who lives in the city and enjoys eating out plus tourists who have stumbled across the place and are bound to return home recommending it to all their friends. Essentially though, it's anyone who has good food rather than must-have-meat as their prerequisite for a good meal.
The ethos of healthy organic eating is plainly reflected in the food and its innovative combinations. Gluten free too is top of the list as this venue clearly prides itself on taking vegetarian and vegan cooking to new heights. Starters include soup of the day which is governed by seasonal influences, tofu pockets which are two sweet tofu cases. One is generously filled with organic brown rice, asian mushrooms, spring onions and avocado so much so that it’s virtually bursting at the seams, and the other with miso roasted butternut squash, brown rice and silken tofu rounded off with an oriental mirin dressing. Also worth trying is the portobello mushroom, dill and dijon pate. A great combination of flavours with the dill coming through at the end. This is further enhanced with a pear and sweet red onion chutney, endive, caperberry and paprika.
For mains, it's well worth sampling the spicy lemongrass and galangal infused coconut curry. This comes with baby aubergine, wedges of sweet potato, a basil pesto sauce and is rounded off with a dollop of creme fraiche. Also, try the sweet potato gratin which is beautifully seasoned with garlic and rosemary and served with roasted Mediterranean vegetables, a coulis of roasted red pepper and topped off with wild rocket and parmesan. The interplay between flavours in this dish is sublime and really works well on the palate. The goats cheese salad is vast and struggles to stay on the plate. It’s baked on a pesto croute with a balsamic roast pepper reduction and includes kalamata olives, sprouted mixed beans and pulses, walnuts and a roasted red pepper coulis. The number of ingredients is astounding but you can easily decipher which is which on the tongue. If you fancy something lighter, the baba ghanoush, a puree of roasted aubergine with olive oil, chilli, garlic and tahini served with warm pitta bread is perfectly sized for a smaller snack.
Desserts offer up some very unusual flavours. The daring yet extremely successful black pepper ice cream is presented in a Szechuan brandy basket topped with strawberries and a balsamic reduction. Subtle yet intricate pepper flavours the way the ice cream has been produced and is a real testament to the chef. There’s also a sumptuous chocolate torte (smooth, bittersweet, dark chocolate truffle on a crunchy, hazelnut base served with a summer berry compote) and the sugar free option doesn't disappont either given that it's a feuillantine of raspberries with layers of greek yoghurt and fresh raspberries with wafer thin puff pastry that's drizzled with honey to counter the slight bite of the raspberries.
Although the majority of the wines, beers and ciders are organic which is impressive, unfortunately the fact that there are only a few wines available by the glass is a little disappointing. Don’t let this take anything away from the impressive cocktail list though which features a Pomegranate Cosmopolitan, an unusual Green Tea Mojito and an amaretto sour with a sharp twist of lemon.
The Last Word
This is a worthy gold star in anyone’s book. Fresh produce coupled with beautiful flavours and unusual combinations makes Food For Friends a great choice to unravel an afternoon away with friends or family.