February 2014 trip to Brighton

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I love Brighton. Although it’s under an hour and a half’s drive or train ride away, I don’t visit enough! Last month, however, we were able to go for the night as my parents had got a free night in a hotel with their home insurance that they didn’t want and we were able to book a Friday night at The Old Ship hotel with it. I tried to book Terre a Terre for the Friday evening but couldn’t get a reservation so instead booked Food for Friends which was a stone’s throw from the hotel.

Food for Friends, 17 Prince Albert St, The Lanes, Brighton

Official Website: http://www.foodforfriends.com

No photos as we were too busy enjoying our meal.

I started with the soup which was some kind of root vegetable medley with a hint of ginger and was very tasty. R went for the cracked black peppered fried tofu with spring onions and saffron dashi, served with kombu seaweed, pickled cucumber and Chinese cabbage. I think this was a stand out dish- so many flavours on the plate, quite peppery tofu, awesome pickles and definitely something that would be hard to recreate but I’d order next time!

For main R had something that wasn’t vegan- a potato cake with a poached egg on top. I think he enjoyed it, especially the sesame onion rings!! They do a vegan version without the egg.

I had another dish that was a vegan-option. It was the Halloumi salad with mango, avocado, wasabi nuts and a mango dressing. I got crispy tofu instead of halloumi which was lovely, as were the leaves, nuts, avocado and slices of mango. However, the mango dressing was far too sweet and overpowering so this one wasn’t a winner!!

For pudding I had to try the coconut arancini with a trio of mango (which works much better in a sweet dish!) The sorbet was lovely, as were the sweet coconut rice balls so I really enjoyed this. We also shared the espresso and truffles for 2 to finish off the meal and had a nice bottle of vegan red wine with our meal too. Service was good and it was reasonably priced (I think mine fell into the 3 courses for £20 category!) so we will be back!

On the Saturday morning, I was a bit annoyed that R had organised for a meeting with our plumbers at 2pm so we didn’t have time to stick around for lunch/afternoon tea. We had a light breakfast in the hotel (I just had fruit and coffee, although there was toast, bread, baked beans etc.) and wandered up the pier,

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bought some treats in Vbites, bought more treats in Infinity Foods and at about 11 settled in Rock’ola café bar for brunch.

Rock Ola, 29 Tidy Street, Brighton, BN1 4EL

Official website: http://www.rockolacoffeebar.com/

I loved this place! It’s like a cool 50s American diner and they have a separate vegan menu but also serve meat and lacto-ovo dishes.

I got the most awesome chocolate milkshake:

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And a vegan breakfast-in-a-bun: Mushrooms, vegan bacon, sausage and a hash brown type patty- which was lovely.

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Simple but hit the spot and I must find out how to make that milkshake. It was gloopy and ice-creamy and exactly how a milkshake should be.

Rock Ola was right near the station so we could just hop on a train back to London and our Brighton trip was over until next time!!!!

Wabi- Gourmet Japanese in West Sussex

Official website: http://www.wabi.co.uk/

Train station: Horsham

My favourite restaurant in Horsham, West Sussex (where I’ve been working for the past year and a bit) is Wabi. I took R here for Valentines day last night, and had every intention of taking to photos of my meal to share here, but forgot (well it was valentines day!)

So, let me describe the food I usually have here. The first time I came, I asked for a vegan tasting menu (£32) and the food just kept coming…

Edamame– always lovely, and always a big portion.

Sesame Kelp Salad with Goma Ponzu Dressing  – Really tasty kelp salad with a mustardy dressing with sesame and mustard seeds. Portion size has varied a lot with this dish but last nights was nice and big.

Tofu Tataki with Onion Ponzu – one of my favourite dishes, as I love tofu, not so popular among those who don’t. It’s slices of raw tofu with a kind of onion marmalade on top and dressed with a vinegary sauce. I can’t get enough of it!

Takikomi Gohan (Rice Hot Pot with Japanese Mushrooms) – This is like the Japanese version of a risotto, so lots of different mushrooms and rice with a soy type flavour. Very tasty and comes with a flame underneath the pot to keep it hot.

Nasu Dengaku  (Baby Aubergine Grilled with Miso Sauce) – I just don’t like this dish. The aubergine is difficult to eat (especially with chopsticks) and too watery which just isn’t pleasant when it’s too hot. The yellow sauce has a sweet/umami taste which I don’t like. I only ordered this once and won’t again. 

Vegetable Tempura with green chilli dipping sauce – The sauce here is amazing- green and sweet and zingy. Perfect green chilli flavour. Vegetables include onion, broccoli, sweet potato and something that looks like a nettle leaf and I haven’t yet identified.

Japanese Mushrooms Grilled Over Hoba Leaf -Miso flavoured mushroom selection. It comes with the flame underneath as with the Takikomi Gohan and is served on a big Hoba leaf. It’s a good idea to have some rice with this dish as otherwise you are just eating mushrooms.

Vegan Sushi selection – pretty standard sushi selection, lots of mushroom and some unidentifiable vegetables, but delicious and comes with soy sauce, wasabi and pickled radish.

Fresh fruit selection – Pineapple, berries, passionfruit. Very nice 🙂

I think that’s everything. Can you imagine the first time they brought all of that out for me to eat?? I left a lot and took the sushi and fruit home in boxes. The waiting staff are very attentive though, and happy to make recommendations, although I would recommend warning them ahead if you require vegan food as if it’s busy they won’t do the tofu tataki unless they know you’re coming.

Last night I just went for my favourites: edamame, tempura, tofu tataki and kelp salad and it was perfect, with a couple of mojitos to accompany. The cocktails are excellent and the drinks menu is extensive with many sake options and wine too.

Upstairs, there are large tables behind curtains at floor level for “shoe free” dining (apparently like the Japanese do it) and you sit on cushions. Good for a large party.

Wabi comes highly recommended and apparently they’re opening a branch in High Holborn soon!