Terre a Terre was one of our main reasons for visiting Brighton.
We planned to just dine a la carte on my birthday, but somehow we ended up visiting twice; having a set menu the first time and tapas the second. You're only 29 once, right? In total we spent around £110 on 2 starters, 4 mains, 3 sides, 4 desserts, 2 alcoholic drinks and 3 non alcoholic.
As expected, the food was excellent. It's difficult to compare restaurants serving very different things to each other, but food wise Terre a Terre is certainly now in my top 5. It's a large restaurant that was busy both nights (Monday/Tuesday).
Atmosphere was pretty good. Service on the first day was excellent. Service on the second day sucked and somewhat spoilt our overall enjoyment, which is a shame. More on this later.
Our impromptu visit on the first evening was due to discovery of their £15 for 3 course deal, which seemed too good to miss. Entitled the "Great Grower's Menu" it offers a choice of 2 vegan starters, 1 main and 1 dessert; made with local, seasonal ingredients.
We ordered a garlic focaccia to nibble on when we arrived. It was served quickly and whilst not outstanding was pleasant enough (i.e. i'd order it again, but not rush back for).
Our decision to sit at the front of the restaurant proved a success. With several members of staff passing us regularly service was prompt, polite and we felt well looked after.
We normally order a couple of drinks then switch to table water when eating out. I prefer water with food anyway and am in no way a wine fan. My 'elderbubble' was probably the least exciting thing we had there - cava mixed with elderflower cordial in. Becky's lychee/pomegranate non-alcoholic cocktail was half the price and twice as nice.
Our starters were both excellent, which is surprising considering the inclusion of broad beans!
My dish, "Pulborough’s Asparagus Army" is described as "Broad bean lemon thyme espresso with samphire, linseed flowery leaf relish and fried asparagus soldiers":
The broad bean 'espresso' was actually quite pleasant, bearing no ressemblance to the disturbing taste of the last (and first) broad bean dish I had a few years ago. The samphire salad thing was quite tasty and the battered asparagus well cooked. I'm not sure how much the 3 things went together, but I enjoyed the overal dish.
One thing I dislike about vegetarian restaurants is when they offer a vegan option, but don't tell you what it is until it's placed infront of you. Often you're left feeling disappointed. "Tomato Tea and Hot Parmesan Cream Eclair (vo)" did not, unfortunately come with a veganised eclair:
The "Brandy wine tomato consommé" was seriously impressive - really, really nice - rich, fresh and flavourful. The substitute eclair was less impressive indian tasting bread, which was almost certainly an uttapam borrowed from one of their main courses.
Our mains were both "Lettuce and Lovage (v/gf) - British pea and parsley pikelets with St Germain sauce, a warm salad of seared lettuce, shallots and baby potatoes, finished with lovage salt and mint oil."
It was pretty weird by my standards, but with the exception of the lettuce I thoroughly enjoyed it all. It's the first time I've had cooked lettuce and I think it might be the last. The pikelets weren't at all what I was expecting. Far from crumpet like they were actually kind of mini burger type things. I guess "mini burger things" doesn't sound as appealing on a menu however!
Dessert was very impressive. "Raspberry Rumble (v) - Raspberry frangipane tartine served with raspberry sorbet."
The frangipane was small but really very good. The sorbet tasted like it was from a supermarket, but by that point I didn't care. Unlike the other 2 courses this isn't an item on their main menu, which is a shame.
Our second visit was less impressive than the first. The food was still of really high standard, but we left with that "I just want to leave now" feeling.
We decided to try the tapas, which gives a taster of most of the vegan friendly things on the menu.
Whilst we waited we ordered a bread selection and some Hoisin Tofu:
The bread selection was pretty boring if truth be told (and hence no picture). The Hoisin Tofu was really good, it'd been deep fried and had a beautiful texture.
It's difficult to remember all the items on the tapas plate, so I shalln't try:
I shall mention however that it contained the nicest polenta I've ever had, by quite a long way. At least, I think it was polenta! What the meal lacked however was sauces. For instance, it included the pikelets from the main course the night before, but without the sauce they were previously served in the taste wasn't quite complete. Still, it was good to taste lots of new things.
The tapas comes served with a bowl of (extremely chunky) chips, which don't seem to fit in with the rest of the food. They were pretty good chips, but we couldn't eat them all.
My dessert was "Frangipane Tea and Cake (v/gf) - Earl Grey soaked prunes and frangipane tartine served with amaretto ice cream and hot green and orange tea tot":
The orange tea was gorgeous - sweet, rich and orangey - not the orange scented dishwater you get from herbal teabags. The almond icecream was OK, nothing to get excited about. The frangipane was a disappointment compared to the one I had the night before. The actual franipane was just as good (I assume it's the same mixture) but the prunes really detracted from the taste.
Becky ordered the dessert we've heard so much about, the "Rain Vodka Cherry Chocolate Churros (v) - Sugar spice dusted doughnut straws served with sticky dipping chocolate and Rain Vodka sozzled cherries":
I'd been looking forward to trying this for a while. The doughnuts were pretty doughnut like, the chocolate sauce OK. When the mint had been removed from the top of the cherries however the cup they were served in was visibly dirty. It looked as if it'd been through a dishwasher and something caked on.
Unsure whether to say anything or not we mentioned it to a waiter, who quickly whisked the whole thing away and promised us a new one. The good news is that it took a while to come (i.e. it wasn't the same one). Whilst we waited however another waiter (who looking at her picture in the Terre a Terre book I bought a few months back appears to be the owner) decided to come and tell us it was just icing sugar.
I wish I'd taken a picture before we said anything, as it was quite clearly not icing sugar. We both found it really dismissive and completely uncalled for. When it eventually did arrive neither of us wanted the dessert.
It's a shame really as it spoilt what was otherwise a very enjoyable two meals. Normally I'd complain, but as it was potentially the owner I don't think it'd do much good.
I'll certainly return to Terre a Terre, as the food is undeniably very good. All other waiting staff were pleasant and helpful. I just wish that particular incident had never happened.
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