Food For Friends – Revisit – Tuesday 6th October 2015

21 Oct

The lovely people at Food For Friends invited me back to try the new menu and see the freshly revamped restaurant, so I popped along with my trusty foodie sidekick, Jen, to check it out. I hadn’t realised that it was two whole years ago that I last went there for dinner (see my review here), and it was a bit of a ‘game of two halves’. I returned earlier this year to try the afternoon tea – results of that visit can be found here.

It’s obvious that the place has had a lick of paint all round; the stark white has gone and has been replaced with lots of muted greys. There’s new artwork on the walls, new furniture and the bar top is now shiny white marble. Apparently there’s been a lot of money spent behind the scenes too with a new kitchen layout and up-to-date kitchen equipment and the loos have got new sinks and have been re-tiled.

(These first three photos were supplied by FFF. I’m just going to insert the usual obligatory apology for the other photos here; they’e a bit yellowy – I came up against the bloggers’ nemesis once more – low lighting).

FFF bar

There’s an area to the left of the entrance with a table – a booth, if you will – that seats about 8-10 and is walled on three sides so it’s kinda private. Ish. Great for a dinner with mates.

Version 2

And for all you cooks and chefs out there, a spot of kitchen porn…mmm, shiny.

IMG_0118

Anyhoo, to the food…we were given menus and offered water while we decided on which wine to have.

There was a fantastic choice of starters and it was difficult to choose, so after asking a few questions, we settled on a sharing platter. This is what was on it *takes deep breath*

Scotch egg with chickpea and grated carrots with sweet chilli mayonnaise; Feta, avocado and quinoa salad with sweet potato crisps, semi-dried tomatoes, mangetout, baby leaves, roasted nuts and seeds in a honey, lemon and chilli dressing ; Warm goat’s cheese, garden peas and basil arancini with a tomato relish; Fig, basil and smoked ricotta salad with pickled ginger crisps and toasted pine nuts in an agave mustard dressing.

IMG_4900

We hoovered this up and both agreed that we’d be more than happy with one of these each for our main course – delicious! Especially the scotch egg and the arancini, which were both light and crisp. The selection of salads was great too, a great mix of sweet, bitter, salty and crunchy. A great start.

We took our time choosing the main courses. We both preferred the look of the salads, but wanted to try a range of food, so I chose the open ravioli of roasted butternut squash, beetroot, walnuts and wilted spinach with a white wine and Brighton blue cheese sauce, and Jen went for piquillo peppers stuffed with crispy saffron battered herby rice balls with pine nuts, wasabi pea purée and salsa verde.

IMG_4904

Underneath that top layer of pasta were huge slabs of butternut squash and beetroot, just cooked – I would have preferred them to be a little more cooked, but they weren’t under by any means. Just a personal preference. The blue cheese sauce was delicious; not too overpowering and plenty of it.

The pasta was tasty with just the right amount of bite. I’m not sure about the whole concept of open ravioli though – this would have worked better for me if the veg had been cut smaller and mixed through the sauce along with the pasta. It all felt a bit separate, so everything just tasted of itself and didn’t gain any flavours from the things around it. Picky? Moi?

IMG_4903

Jen’s dish was quite hefty and she found it too heavy overall, especially with the prospect of a dessert still to come. The rice balls were battered and fried which wasn’t actually mentioned on the menu. She tried the crispy coating, but found that it didn’t have much flavour and was just too heavy. Interestingly, the description differs on the online menu and not just for this dish – something that I think should be addressed. I believe that you shouldn’t have to ask too many questions when you choose your dishes, the menu should provide everything you need to know – I’m fine with asking tons of questions, as I like to know EXACTLY what I’m getting, but I still get some nasty surprises occasionally. Jen enjoyed it overall, but left the outer battered bits of the rice balls.

And so to the important business of dessert. Ordinarily, I’d forego this as, by this stage, I usually have no room for a third course, But today, I was taking one for the team (that’s YOU – don’t say I never do anything for you). We chatted with the waitress about options and it was at this point that young Jennifer started to get quite excited. She’s dairy intolerant and is all too used to skipping dessert as everything comes with ice cream, cream or custard. Not today! There were dairy-free options all over the shop! She chose a classic sticky toffee pudding with (vegan) ice cream.

IMG_4908

Before I talk about my dessert I’d just like to say that I tried Jen’s pud and OH MY FRICKIN’ GOD it was so bloody good! I’m already planning when I can go back so I can have one of these all to myself. Seriously, save room for this bad boy, it’s nothing less than awesomeness in a bowl. Jen was chuffed too…although I probably nicked more than I should. (Sorry Jen xx)

So I opted for a crème brûlèe – not usually my thing, but I thought there was a chance I might be able to finish it as they’re fairly light. I was told that I could have the vegan option made with coconut milk, so I opted for that, so that Jen could try it too. It came with a coconut sesame biscuit and a blood orange sorbet.

IMG_4909

It was horrible. No other word for it. The waitress had said that it would be an unusual texture, but that was fine. It was the flavour – yuk. It had an overwhelming after-taste of soap. I had two spoonfuls to be sure. Double yuk. On the plus side, the biscuit was good and the sorbet was really good.

The waitress was very kind and brought me another dessert (I had a feeling my reaction may have been a common one). She recommended the coconut and black sesame ‘arancini’ which were like the inside of a Bounty bar wrapped in a doughnut. Very sweet but really delicious. They came with a trio of mango, including a sorbet which again, was excellent. Jen was really keen on that too, especially being dairy free. We also sampled the vegan chocolate truffles. These were also excellent. (Remember I said how full I was? I sneaked one of these and a coconut arancini into a convenient plastic box I had in my bag and I ate them the next day – heh).

IMG_4913IMG_4911

In summary, we had a lovely meal. We were both more taken with the starters and desserts than the main courses, but all were good and we agreed that the overall experience was better than a certain local supposedly high-end vegetarian restaurant which seems to win all the accolades *taps finger on side of nose and winks*

The food doesn’t have me in states of ecstasy and I still think there could be more variety on the menu, especially where the main courses are concerned, but they really excel when it comes to gluten free, dairy free and vegan options. I’d avoid the crème brûlèe though…

Service: Service here is always excellent and always with a smile. The staff are well informed about the food and the options and will bend over backwards to ensure you have a good experience.

Decor: The new refurb has made a big difference. It may not look completely different, but the subtle changes have breathed new life into a place that was starting to look tired round the edges.

Toilets: Very impressed with the loos! Everything worked, nothing weird, decent hand dryer, plenty of loo roll – and CLEAN

Prices: Starters and desserts average around £6.50 and main courses around £12.50. The starter sharing platter for two is £18.

Grrs: Nothing that really gets my back up here…although I always come away slightly frustrated that they could do more. They obviously have some very talented chefs, but I don’t think the menu really shows their full potential. Oh and….the website says that they’re based in the South Lanes. As we all know…there’s no such place as the South Lanes. It’s in The Lanes *sigh*

AOB: Food For Friends have a brand new kids menu which you can see here and they are now taking bookings for Christmas; you can drool over the menu here. As well as a good selection of wines, they also serve a range of cocktails, including alcohol free. Recent accolades include a position in the Good Food Guide 2015 and runner-up as Best Ethical Restaurant in the UK in the Observer Food Monthly Awards. I also note from today’s Twitter feed that they’re now selling gift cards – nice idea huh?

I was invited to review Food For Friends and I didn’t pay for the meal myself. 8/10

Food for Friends, 17-18 Prince Albert Street, The Lanes, Brighton BN1 1HF Tel: 01273 202310 Open: Mon-Thurs: 12noon-10pm, Fri-Sat: 12noon-10.30pm, Sun: 12noon-10pm (serving roasts from noon), Afternoon tea served daily 12noon-5pm. You can book a table online, by calling the above number or by emailing manager@foodforfriends.com

 

 

 

 

Food For Friends – Thursday 16th April 2015

18 Apr

My last visit to Food For Friends was pretty disappointing to say the least; brown food on brown plates that left me with my bottom lip sticking out. But that was eighteen months ago and this was an entirely different kind of grub – afternoon tea. GET IN.

I went along with my best girlfriend for a spot of tea, cake and chat and we were given the prime people-watching table in the sunny, curved window. This actually turned out to be less lucky-lucky than we first thought, but I’ll get to that. The place itself has always felt a bit stark to me. It’s a difficult place to give a cosy feel to as the windows are huge and it can make the room feel cold when it’s not. I think it could use some real statement lighting and a few more pictures or ornaments on the walls. The chairs are looking a little tired too. Great food photography though.

IMG_4214

We were given menus and asked to choose what type of tea we’d like and in the meantime, we were given a glass of Prosecco with rose and hibiscus flower which was sooooo good and a really lovely start.

IMG_4212IMG_4216

I opted for lemon and ginger tea and my buddy went for silver tips white. Our teas weren’t poured, but were given to us ready to go with heavy Japanese teapots full of hot water so we could pour when we’d finished our bubbles. We were given a little biscuit with the tea, which seemed a bit unnecessary with the impending cake-fest!

IMG_4200

Then the serious business of afternoon tea began. A three tiered display of luscious looking goodies – time to dive in. I was HUNGRY!

IMG_4193

We tucked into the bottom layer which consisted of three ‘sausage’ rolls, filled with an intense mushroom mix, and a triangle of filo pastry stuffed with spinach and feta. We demolished these pretty quickly – they were crispy and flaky and delicious, though my buddy found the mushroom rolls a tad too strong for her tastes. They had a bit of a spicy kick to them and they came with a little pot of sweet chilli dipping sauce too. I tend to enjoy strong flavours, so I liked the concentrated taste.

I would have preferred either two slightly larger rolls or four small ones; it seems strange to serve up odd numbers when it’s meant to feed two people. Same with the filo parcel; two small ones instead of one big one that we had to split would have been better.

IMG_4204

The next layer was the traditional scones with cream and strawberry jam – light fluffy scones liberally covered in icing sugar (I’m always suspicious of this – I’ve seen too many disasters on TV where the cooks have tried to hide burnt tops with this method) and perhaps a bit more jam would have been nice. They weren’t burnt though. NEXT!

IMG_4206IMG_4207

The top and most interesting looking layer of the cake stand was heaving with sweet stuff which looked like it would be a major challenge after scoffing the first two layers. This was not for the faint hearted. *deep breath*

(The photo below may look arty but was meant to be of the whole plate but I screwed it up. What ya gonna do.)

IMG_4211

So by this time (about 3pm) the sun was positively blazing through the windows and had melted the shard of chocolate that had initially stood proud on the top. (At this point I really should have asked if we could move tables as I was BAKING, but I was distracted by cake.) We divided up the sticky toffee cake – nothing much to say here except it was delish. Enough with the icing sugar though.

IMG_4209

The berry crumble came in the tiniest pot in the world and was now also covered in melted chocolate. It was OK, but difficult to really appreciate because it was so teeny for two people; there was probably a heaped teaspoon each *disappointy face*

In contrast, there were two large pieces of passion fruit frangipani. Now frangipani and basically anything involving almonds is amongst my favourite things when it comes to puds, but this was a bit tame really. I couldn’t taste the passion fruit at all, it wasn’t very almondy and it was all a bit flaccid. We left the second piece, it was a bit too much.

The hazelnut and apple cake was really good though; denser than cake, more like one of those lovely slices you get in coffee shops, piled high on plates by the till to tempt you in while you’re paying for your frappamochalatte. It was good, apart from the weird coffee and almond cream that came with it. Both me and my buddy tried this (we weren’t sure how to eat it so we dunked the cake in the little pot of sauce). We pulled faces at each other. Don’t like it. Tried it again to be sure. Definitely don’t like it. It was like a cold cup of coffee – yuk. That was the only bit that I really disliked. The rest of it was great.

I think overall, the balance of sweet and savoury was a bit off. The last tier was generous, but the savoury tier fell a bit short. Maybe an option to have sweet or savoury scones would be nice? I would have preferred a good cheese scone…mmm, cheese scone….so that it wasn’t so heavy on the sugary stuff.

Or perhaps just make smaller versions of the top tier offerings (two of each please). Anyhoo, just a thought.

Overall, it compared well to other afternoon teas I’ve had. It was nice to have the pastries instead of bread and the large choice of teas is a nice touch. Service was excellent (and we were offered a table out of the sun to finish our teas).

We were lucky enough to be invited to Food For Friends to sample their Fancy Friends Afternoon Tea (awesome name). They offer various options. This one costs £25 without the glass of bubbles and £32 with. It’s good value, but come hungry. They have a smaller cheaper option called the Perfectly Simple Afternoon Tea for only £6.95 which sounds like a bargain to me. See their website for full details and beware of that sunny window seat from about 3pm!

Food for Friends, 17-18 Prince Albert Street, The Lanes, Brighton BN1 1HF Tel: 01273 202310 Open: Sun-Thurs: 12noon-10pm, Fri-Sat: 12noon-10.30pm, Sun: 12noon-10pm (serving roasts from noon), Afternoon tea served daily 12noon-5pm

Supr. Pop-Up at Café Coho – Tuesday 17th March 2015

31 Mar

Ed’s no stranger to pop-ups, supper clubs and quirky one-off events; I first met him when he invited me and Mr BMB to his supper club at The Brunswick in February 2014, and since then he’s popped up all over the place (see what I did there), hosting all manner of intriguing events. He’s even cooked on local TV don’t ya know!

This event was being held at Café Coho on Queens Road, Brighton and was a collaboration between Ed and his chef buddy, Ollie Moore, a partnership they’ve named Supr. Ed and Ollie know each other from working together in Hampshire. Ollie proudly boasts a Michelin star and is currently head chef at The Black Rat, and Ed – a Michelin bib recipient himself – is the newly appointed head chef at The Wykeham Arms. They apparently ‘bonded’ over a mutual love of Chelsea FC. I guess someone has to.

So first – the venue. I’ve never been to Café Coho before, it’s nice enough, but fairly typical of all cafés which have opened or been refurbed in the last year or two; industrial style lighting, bare brick walls, chalkboards, reclaimed furniture. I’m told they do great coffee though, so really…who cares if it’s on trend or not? The two girls helping out tonight could have done with a few lessons in smiling and basic customer interaction though. Me and Mr BMB were taking it in turns to say exaggerated ‘thank yous’ to see if we could get a reaction. Nada.

To the important bit – the grub. And a quick advanced apology. The quality of my photos here is terrible. I’ve done my best to brighten them up as best I can, but I was faced with the enemy of all food bloggers: dim lighting. Bugger.

We were treated to some nibbles to begin:

Squid ink crackers and seaweed mayo

IMG_4007

If you squint really hard under a good light, you can just make these out in the photo *shakes fist at dim lighting*

These were so light, they disappeared in the mouth as soon as you crunched into them and the little blobs of mayo gave a good twang that brought them to life. What a great start. NEXT!

Crispy pigs ears with wild garlic creme fraiche

IMG_4009

When I saw pigs ears on the menu, I pictured those chews that you buy for dog treats. I was pleasantly surprised then, when we got these. Not the prettiest starter ever, but they really delivered on taste. Bread-crumbed and fried, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with the dip and a bit of salt (am I dicing with death there?) they were lush and needless to say, didn’t last long.

Next up was the soup – an assemblage of relatives from the garlic family.

Allium soup with crow garlic, ramson shoots, black garlic, tri leek, roast garlic bread, chives and burnt leek powder

IMG_4014

Good job I didn’t have to snog anyone next day eh? To be fair, the garlic elements were all quite subtle and overall it was like a really tasty onion soup – just notched up a level. If, like me, you have no idea what a ramson shoot is, it’s wild garlic. The only thing I thought could have been left out of this was the burnt leek powder. There’s a huge trend for putting ash and all kinds of burnt remnants of stuff in food just now, and I’m not really getting it. It all tastes the same to me – burnt. There wasn’t enough of it here to make much of a difference, so while I thought it didn’t enhance the dish, it didn’t detract from it either. Another thumbs up.

Main course time *rubs hands together*

Slow lamb, crispy offal, butternut squash, charred onions and balsamic jus

IMG_4017

For me, this was the star of the show. Every element was TO DIE FOR. As these plates were served, there was a wonderful Marmitey smell that drifted through the room. That lamb had been slow cooked into utter submission, then pulled apart and re-formed – it was the meltiest melty lamb ever. On the top left of the photo is the crispy offal that was different to the original menu listing. I know it’s not to everyone’s liking, but I love offal when it’s cooked well and this was spot on. The crispy crumb balanced the softer insides and the sweetness of the squash, onions and balsamic sauce complimented that slight earthy bitterness. SOOO GOOOD. This is my favourite dish of Ed’s so far.

…and so to pud.

Wild basil sorbet, confit raspberry and rose petals

IMG_4021

This was the one course that didn’t deliver for me. I liked all of the elements, although I thought the sorbet was a little too heavy on the basil. If I’d been given a tiny version of this as a palate cleanser after my dessert, I’d have been a happy chicken. As it was, it wasn’t really substantial enough for me. I’m a girl for goodness sake! Give me PUDDING!

Right at the end, we were given a little cube of dense strawberry jelly coated in chilli-infused sugar; a wonderfully different end to a meal. It was just the right mix of hot and sweet.

I’ve been to a few of Ed’s events before and this was easily the best menu so far. His collaboration with Ollie is clearly a good match and a great taste of future Supr. events. They’re clearly good mates with a healthy respect for each other’s cooking ideas and abilities and they’re lovely fellas to boot.

You can book for upcoming events via Tabl.com. The next is in Winchester on Thursday 9th April then on 11th May in Southampton, before they launch the brand in Bristol.

Follow Ed and Ollie on Twitter @thatchefbloke @olliemoore111 @hellerandmoore

The Creperie – Friday 22nd August 2014

23 Aug

As Mr BMB and myself have a few days off work *air punch* we decided we’d do some proper tourist stuff and head down to the Brighton Wheel to see what stuff looks like from way up in the air. AMAZING! You have to do this if you haven’t already.

First we thought we’d have a light lunch so we headed to the The Creperie, somewhere we’ve been meaning to try since the good feedback started to filter through the social media channels. Twitbuzz, if you will. I love a made up word.

First impressions were good; the tables were full of happy eaters, the lady behind the counter was smiley and friendly and the decor had a bright, clean feel to it – tick, tick, tick.

We were directed to the downstairs seating area and told that we’d need to order at the counter when we were ready. It has the same bright airiness as the ground floor, even though there’s no natural light. The area that connects through to the main room has the obligatory bare brick wall on the right, with some well designed, brightly coloured prints showcasing some of the pancake fillings, but the thing that really detracted from those was the handwritten chalkboard sign.

IMG_2904

Here’s a tip: if you’re going to get someone to write your special offers, events, etc on of these boards, get someone who has good, clear handwriting and more importantly, someone WHO CAN SPELL.

IMG_2903IMG_2908

*twitch*

The main seating area was suffering a bit from ‘waiting-room-itis’, with huge expanses of bare white wall, (which isn’t always a bad thing – I’ve seen some very odd pictures in restaurants), but it did have some fabulous industrial style angle-poise lighting.

IMG_2902IMG_2911

It could really use some of the touches that have been applied upstairs though, where there are kitchen implements hung on peg boards; it would definitely help to make the room feel a little more cosy, especially when you’re the only people in the room as we were. It just felt a bit stark. Love the wallpaper and the low tables in the area under the stairs though, the space has been used really well.

IMG_2901IMG_2906IMG_2905

OK, I can hear you telling me to stop wittering and get to the important matter of the food. They have a good range of options, both sweet and savoury, including galettes which are made with buckwheat flour and are therefore gluten free, lots of vegetarian options and a kids meal deal.

I ordered a mushroom medley galette – wild mushrooms, crème fraiche, white wine, dill and spinach leaves – and a glass of house red (shut up, I’m on holiday) and Mr BMB chose the crepe de maison – traditional French tartiflette with potato, bacon, onion, reblochon cheese and cream. They arrived quickly and were both served with a small pot of coleslaw and a salad.

Mushroom Medley Galette

IMG_2914

Crepe de Maison

IMG_2912

(Yes, I know, you can’t see the filling – we ate them pretty fast and I realised too late – sorry)

The galettes were just as they should be – wafer thin, light and lacy. My filling was tasty though I’d have preferred a little more of it….Mr BMB’s was good, but cold in the middle. Also, I got a little surprise in my coleslaw, you can just make it out in the photo; a little paper sticker that had found it’s way from a box of veg or something similar. I didn’t eat it fortunately, I just found it on my plate after I tipped out my coleslaw. It happens, I’m over it. If it had been a hair or a human finger I might have made of an issue of it. The salad had a really tasty dressing on it and the coleslaw was fresh and clearly home-made and wasn’t drowned in mayo. All good. Mr BMB wasn’t too fond of the glass he was given for his beer though. It made him frown.

IMG_2909

On the way out, we treated ourselves to a scoop of gelato supplied to The Creperie by local ice-cream heroes Gelato Gusto – I had pistachio and Mr BMB went for his usual salted caramel. MMmmmmmmm.

IMG_2918

Service: Fast and friendly and we were told to order at the counter so we weren’t left hanging around waiting for service.

Decor: The counter area, seating and decor has obviously been well thought out, as has the branding. The clean colours, bleached wood and simple,modern graphics are well suited to the seaside location. The paper napkins and crockery had the logo emblazoned proudly on them, it was unfortunate that I was reminded of the Tesco value logo though – just me?

Toilets: Wow – niiiice toilets. A proper loo roll with a holder, a full length mirror, lighting that doesn’t make you look like an extra from Shaun of the Dead and a clean, functional, flushing loo. See? It can be done.

Prices: You can grab a traditional sugar and lemon crepe or even a waffle on a stick to take out, both at £2.95.  My mushroom galette was £5.95 (take out price £4.95) and Mr BMBs crepe de maison was £6.95 (take out price £5.95). A scoop of gelato is £2.50. The kids meal deal for under 10s is £6.95 and for that you get a crepe, wrap or waffle with up to two toppings, a scopp of gelato and unlimited drink refills. There’s a great dinner deal for £6.50 too which gets you a savoury galette and a glass of wine. See the full menu on their (beautiful) website for details.

Grrs: More filling (and less paper stickers) for me please! Hotter filling and a proper beer glass for Mr BMB please! And PLEASE sort out your chalkboard – I’m twitching again just thing about it.

Overall, a perfectly located place to pop in and grab a quick bite that won’t break the bank. Kids will love this place just as much as the grown-ups. It has a seasoned chef in Karen Samuel who was at Food for Friends for 25 years, she clearly knows what she’s doing and is going to do extremely well here. I’ll be returning soon to have a sweet crepe and a Small Batch coffee. 7/10

Do visit the website as the photos are much better than mine! I neglected to take photos of the upstairs as I didn’t want to attract attention or disturb the other diners. I’ll re-visit and take some pics and will post them ASAP.

The Creperie, 2 Ship Street, Brighton BN1 1AD Tel: 01273 323830 Email: info@thecreperiebrighton.com

 

 

 

 

The Cyclist Refreshment Room, Brighton Train Station – Sunday 6th July 2014

6 Aug

It’s so nice to try somewhere a little different, don’t you think? The Cyclist is a refreshing alternative (pun intended) to the kind of unwelcoming boozer you used to get in railway stations, although it’s taken an even bigger step further back to the refreshment rooms of the late 1800s, when it was a comfortable place for both men and women, yes women, to grab a drink and a bite to eat before boarding their trains. It’s still difficult to imagine that you’d go to the railway station specifically to eat and drink, but I really recommend that you change that way of thinking. That’s exactly what these guys want to do.

IMG_2813

Firstly, you can’t help but be bowled over by the décor – everywhere you look there’s something unusual and interesting that catches the eye; the bar constructed from old suitcases, a nod to one of the premises’ previous incarnations as a lost luggage office;

IMG_2789

the steam engine proudly displayed in a glass case and utilized as a stand-up bar;

IMG_2786

the lights sourced from European railway stations and the collection of vintage and upcycled furniture sitting alongside brightly striped upholstery and colourful prints.

IMG_2797IMG_2771IMG_2800

I could spend an age wittering on about the interior design of this place, the attention to detail is stunning, a real credit to the founders of Greenwell & Tipple, Rupert & Jo Clevely. I took a few photos but you should really go see for yourself, it’s a treat for the eyes!

IMG_2793IMG_2799

The manager, Ed, didn’t know we were there to review, but greeted us warmly, asking us if we were local or just visiting. He also gave us a potted history of the business and the premises and told us that the food was locally sourced and that they were a freehouse, meaning they could stock whatever beers they liked. He was genuinely pleased to talk to us and a really lovely fella to boot. The service was fast and friendly throughout – first class (another pun – geddit?)

And so to the food. We were HUNGRY and both quickly decided on burgers.

I chose a special, the Devilled Burger; a beef patty (I’m told it’s 80% prime beef and 20% fat) sourced from a butcher in Handcross, accompanied by jalapenos, wafer thin chorizo, manchego cheese, red onion, the chef’s secret recipe spiced tomato sauce and little gem lettuce on a brioche bun. I can’t express enough how pleased I was not to have soggy iceberg lettuce on my burger. JOY!

I can hand-on-heart say that this burger just made it to the No.1 spot in my favourite burger chart. It wasn’t just the flavour and succulence of the meat, it was the balance of flavours in the whole thing. Perfect. This cost £10 and fries were an extra £1. Yes that’s right, they DON’T charge you an extra £3 for chips with your burger. (Though you can order them on their own or as a side with other main dishes for £2.50).

My companion opted for the Cyclist Beef Burger which comes with the same spiced tomato relish, lettuce, red onion and gherkin, with cheese as an optional extra. The burger on its own is £7, with cheese £7.50 and with chips £8.

Neither of us could fault the food, it was easily as good, if not better than any other local burger establishments’ offerings – controversial? Try it yourself. The ingredients have clearly been carefully chosen and lovingly cooked, the chef takes pride in his work, and it’s not over-priced. I can even forgive the little enamel cup that the chips came in. Just another one of those trends that I’m not fond of…

IMG_2779

To be clear, The Cyclist doesn’t just offer burgers; it has a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu with daily specials too. Examples include the all-important fry up at £8, Sticky Pork Shoulder and Wasabi Peas at £6 and Mussels with Fennel and Cider at £6.50.

We mustn’t forget the drinks here – there’s a huge range of beers, ciders and wines and they do great coffees from Small Batch and cakey treats and puds too. The outside seating area has also been given the care and attention of the inside and the station is so bright and airy it does feel like you’re in the open air and it’s PERFECT for people watching.

IMG_2816IMG_2815

After experiencing the calm and comfort of the venue, the friendly service and outstanding food, I’ll definitely be back soon for dinner and will make a point of arriving early for my train at EVERY opportunity. 9/10

This review was originally written for the We Love Brighton website and can be viewed here

Website: http://www.thecyclistbrighton.co.uk/

Opening times – Mon-Fri 8am-1030pm Sat-Sun 10am-10pm

Twitter: @cyclistbrighton

Champagne & Oysters at English’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar – Sunday 1st June 2014

21 Jun

This is a gushy one – prepare yourselves.

So this blogging lark has opened up some amazing (eating) opportunities for me and I can honestly say that I feel extremely privileged in that respect. When I started my blog, my sole reason behind it was that Mr BMB wouldn’t do it! We both love and appreciate good food and would much rather go and eat at a great restaurant than go to the pub. Maybe it’s an age thing? Writing about our dining experiences was just the next step on from babbling about them to anyone who’d listen. Who knew that people would actually read it?!

My point is that this was one of those extra special events where I felt utterly spoilt and genuinely chuffed that I was singled out to attend and enjoy such warm hospitality and amazing food.

I actually had a few pangs of guilt as I chatted away to Jonathan Spiers, Head Oyster Shucker (fab job title), because English’s has always been that place that I’ve never quite got around to visiting, despite me living in Brighton for *gulp* 26 years now. I confess that it might be because I tend to consider that little area of The Lanes as a bit touristy.

Anyway, let’s put that right.

IMG_2634

A little history lesson then – are you sitting comfortably? Oy, you at the back, pay attention! I’ll be asking questions later!

*Clears throat*

English’s is a very traditional white tablecloth establishment with the accolade of being the oldest fish restaurant in Brighton, dating back to the late 1800s when it was originally a fish shop owned by the Brazier family, then progressing to an oyster bar in the early 1900s with the installation of the marble top bar that remains to this day. In 1945, the fisherman’s cottages on either side were bought up and this is how the premises remain today. It was at this wonderful bar that the lucky bloggers were seated.

Jonathan welcomed us and gave us some background re the business, then told us about the three types of oysters currently on their menu: West Mersea, Lindisfarne *plays air guitar* and Jersey. He said we’d be sampling both cooked and raw oysters and showed us the correct way to shuck them (I won’t be trying this – I’d definitely lose a limb at the very least).

IMG_2608

And check out this bad boy!

IMG_2625
We were also given a glass or five of a Spanish sparkling wine, Sesum Laxas Espumoso de Albariño. I ought to say here that I’m not a huge fan of white wines, and I don’t profess to knowing anything about wine at all, but I do like the odd glass of bubbles and this was really light and went down very easily indeed, thank you very much.
We started with some cooked oysters; thermidor, tempura and samphire and hollandaise. All were just beautiful, I really didn’t have a favourite and would recommend therefore that you try a selection at £8.95 for one of each and £15.95 for a selection of six.

IMG_2615

Then we moved on to the raw oysters. I’m never quite sure how you’re supposed to eat them, but the answer really is whichever way you’re comfortable with. I find it easier to separate the flesh from the shell then get it on your fork and pop it in your mouth in one go. I tried one first with some vinegar and chopped shallot but I found it a little overpowering, so I moved on to a splash of Tabasco and a squeeze of lemon. Perfect. It’s best to experiment and find what works for you. Some people prefer to swallow them straight down, but I personally don’t see the point as you don’t really get a proper idea of the texture and full flavour unless you have a bit of a munch.

IMG_2621IMG_2627

Funny looking things aren’t they? I can see why some people don’t like the idea of them, they’re not the prettiest of creatures.

The three types were quite different, especially in texture, though personally, I enjoyed the cooked oysters more than the raw ones.

If you’ve always been a bit iffy about trying raw oysters but you’d like to give it a go, have a chat with the staff here at English’s and they’ll guide you through and give you some recommendations. It can be a bit intimidating when you’re not sure how to eat something or even if you’re frightened that you might not like it, but here they’re very down to earth and just want you have as pleasant an experience as possible. They’re totally unpretentious and just lovely through and through. (I told you this was gushy.)

The lovely @lauraofbrighton spotted the signed photos and posters dotted around, high on the walls of the restaurant. You NEED to check these out, there are some proper corkers. Of note: Charlie Chaplin, Albert Finney, Jeffrey Archer, Leslie Crowther AND Right Said Fred! Apparently, Clifford Leigh-Jones took over the restaurant in 1945 when Mr English died (he married one of the Brazier girls in the early 1900s) and he had theatrical connections. So now you know!

The entire place just sings of its history. They still have the original fish counter in the window and the original brass plaque outside with their name embossed on it. And some plates clearly have some age too!

IMG_2617

As well as the amazing oysters, they also serve a HUGE range of other dishes .

They have two set menus: Classic and Summer.

Example from the Classic menu: Starter – Home smoked Loch Duart salmon; Main – Fillets of sole bonne femme with risolées potatoes; Dessert – Strawberry tart with Pimm’s sorbet (you can have any dessert from the menu but the cheese and the oysters are extra).

Example from the Summer menu: Starter – Mussels with coconut, lemongrass and chilli; Main – Mackerel fillets with new potato salad, caponata and salsa verde; Dessert – Dark rum pannacotta with salted caramel and streusel biscuits (the same supplements apply as above).

They do steak, beef au poivre and a fillet of beef with tiger prawns for those who need their meat fix too.

I won’t do my usual assessment of loos, gripes and prices in this post, as I’m due to go for lunch there today – OH, POOR ME!

So I’ll do another post re today’s visit in the near-ish future.

I want to say a massive thank you to Christina from Pleece & Co for inviting me along and to Jonathan at English’s for being the perfect host. Here’s to many more years of successful trading *clinks glass*

 

 

Sushimania – Thursday 22nd May 2014

14 Jun

Japanese food, especially sushi, is pretty much my number one favourite food, though when I was asked to review Sushimania for WeLoveBrighton.com, I was a little apprehensive because a) I’d never heard of it and b) the name made it sound like a huge chain. Anything with ‘mania’ in it is to be avoided in my book. (Wasn’t there a Wokmania on West Street that had open trays of food under heat lights – *shudder*)……sooooo…

IMG_2584

…a little about the background then: this is Sushimania’s fourth outlet, the others being in Edgware, Golders Green and Reading…and that’s it. I couldn’t find anything else out about when/how it was started or who started it. A quick look on Trip Advisor re the Golders Green branch shows a succession of awful reviews, (mostly about the very slow and very rude service..), but I really couldn’t find any of the usual press releases that you associate with a new restaurant brand. (If you know anything about this business, please do let me know and I’ll be happy to add the details and give you a credit – ta).

So anyway, me and Mr BMB toddled off to the Brighton branch which is on Middle Street in the old Genghis Khan’s Mongolian Barbecue premises. First impressions were good; all decked out in black, grey and red, it looked smart and classy and the huge room was busy, mostly with Japanese customers – always a good sign – very promising.

We ordered some drinks (my iced green tea was the real deal, not the overly sweet kind you get in cans and was a generous size too) and settled in to try and decide where to begin.

IMG_2662

You can order individual dishes from the à la carte menu or you can go for the amazing value ‘all you can eat’ option, a bargain at £15.80. There’s a separate tick-box menu for this, as not everything is included in the offer, but there’s more than enough choice with over 100 dishes. You can select up to six dishes at a time and keep ordering until you’re ready to explode (don’t over order though because you’ll be charged the à la carte price if there’s too much waste).

IMG_2578

So after our lovely smiley waiter took our first order, within minutes we were tucking into salmon sashimi, tamago nigiri and grilled eel nigiri all of which were beautifully presented and tasted fresh and delicious. If you don’t fancy the idea of eel, do give it a try, it’s really good. It’s quite oily, a little like smoked kippers, but not as strong in flavour.

IMG_2553

(Apologies for the quality of some of these photos; I had to take them pretty hastily before the food was snaffled by Mr BMB.)

We asked for some recommendations and the waiter was happy to help, suggesting the grilled aubergine with miso – which I practically inhaled it was SO GOOOOD – some prawn katsu and chicken gyoza,  and some spinach salad with sesame dressing.

IMG_2557IMG_2554IMG_2555IMG_2569

The only small criticism I have here is that the prawn katsu didn’t really taste of anything (maybe a touch more seasoning in the crumb?) and the gyoza could have been a little hotter. It was the vegetable dishes that really stood out here. I actually found the katsu and gyoza a bit dull – more of a personal preference really. There was nothing essentially wrong with them, they just weren’t very interesting. Incidentally, the slice of cucumber and tomato add NOTHING to the dish. NO-ONE EATS THEM – EVER.

Starting to get full now…we ploughed on though, like the brave (greedy) soldiers that we are.

We ordered the crispy duck and cucumber uramaki, the yellow tail sashimi (first time we’ve had this – lovely), then went off piste for the spicy dragon roll uramaki, which was wonderful though not really spicy.

IMG_2561IMG_2574IMG_2565

We were way too stuffed to order any rice or noodles, though we did have the beef skewers or gyu kushiyaki, which were marinated in a sweet soy and were a lovely meaty contrast to all the fish. A pot of tea to finish and we were very happy punters indeed.

IMG_2570IMG_2577

Service: Overall, service was great and pretty quick considering they were really busy, though it slowed a little towards the end of our evening. Our waiter was friendly and really helpful when we had questions about what to order.

Decor: Really smart with some lovely graphics on the walls and menus,  comfortable chairs and banquettes. Some of the tables were a little cramped with barely enough space between them to squeeze through but overall it was well set out.

Toilets: These were some of the nicest toilets I’ve ever experienced in a restaurant – seriously! I want to know where they got their gorgeous textured slate tiles. One thing though: the shiny tiled ceiling was a little weird as you could see people on the loo! DON’T LOOK UP!

Prices: Great value, especially if you’re really hungry and you’re going for the all you can eat option. The à la carte items are still very reasonable and are all half price at lunchtimes and after 10pm. A bowl of ramen averages at about £6, a bowl of edameme beans is £3, a bowl of miso soup is £2.20, steak teriyaki is £12.80, pork katsu curry don is £6.80. They also do sushi sets. Best to check their website as the menu is MAHOOOSIVE, but there’s something to fit all pockets.

Grrs: There was a large area by the front counter that was being used to put together takeaway orders and as a bit of a general dumping ground. It looked really messy and spoilt the view of the sushi counter. It would be so much better if they did this prep behind the scenes. If there’s not enough space in the kitchen, a simple screen would sort the problem.

AOB: They also do takeaway, which includes a loyalty scheme; see the website for details – you may need to call them to find out what their delivery catchment area is, but I tried a Portslade postcode and the man from Sushimania – he say yes! Your order needs to be above £18 to qualify for free delivery.

In summary, this is now a serious contender for my favourite Japanese restaurant in Brighton. I’m keen to return to try the à la carte menu, especially the ramen (I adore ramen and there are so few places to get a good one in Brighton – tell me if you have any recommendations.) 8/10

I was invited to review Sushimania and I didn’t pay for the meal myself. Most of the items we ate are available on the ‘all you can eat’ menu, apart from the dragon rolls and the drinks which are extra.

Sushimania, 15-17 Middle Street, Brighton BN1 1AL Tel: 03333 320222 Open: 12-11:00pm 7 days a week. You can also book using their online booking form

That Chef Bloke

Farmer. Foodie. Chef.

Two Hungry Men

I love eating. I love Brighton. So bite me.

For the love of crisps

A journey into the genius of potato crisps and maize type snacks

Boda: Encuentro de Dos Mundos

Just another WordPress.com site

jenniferrosedesign

Anything and everything design related

Mixology Group

All about drinks

meemalee

I love eating. I love Brighton. So bite me.

Lip Smackin' Treats

Feast your eyes on the latest mouthwatering treats from a Brighton based baker

64 Degrees Restaurant Brighton

I love eating. I love Brighton. So bite me.

Comfortably Hungry

I love eating. I love Brighton. So bite me.

法律事務所に相談して借金問題を解消

I love eating. I love Brighton. So bite me.

industrial home decor ideas

I love eating. I love Brighton. So bite me.

A Lot On Your Plate

A budget friendly blog (now an official website) that gives creative & practical tips, recipes, and more, to help inspire, organize, & simplify your life!

Where the Local Things Are

Reviewing cheap local eats and sharing my own recipe adaptations.

Coffee Pot & Kettle

The Coffee Shops of Brighton Reviewed by Brighton Coffee Obsessives

CanTina Brighton

Brightons original supper club hostess & events cook

Cake Stories by Lauren

Cake Stories - I make them! Children's Cupcake Parties, Adult Classes and Events

foxtrotting in the kitchen's Blog

A food blog for the frugal foodie!