Restaurant Review: Terre à Terre

This Brighton institution proves that you don’t need meat to create incredible food

Terre à Terre in Brighton’s East Street is a very well-established vegetarian restaurant with many vegan options available too. This is no ordinary place to eat!

On a very cold February night, we were welcomed in by the staff and a lovely warm atmosphere in the restaurant. The decor is unpretentious, almost charmless, but comfortable. It certainly didn’t prepare us for how utterly delighted we were going to be by the creativity and flavours of the food to come.

We were offered an interesting choice of aperitifs. The Fino was particularly good, and there was a choice of locally made vermouths. The menu was explained beautifully by the waiter, who offered great recommendations for our meal and wine.

We shared two starters. The first was steamed rice buns stuffed with Szechuan-marinated halloumi and served with kimchi Chinese cabbage, lapsang souchong-pickled watermelon and cucumber, and a miso chilli sauce. The second was seared pine-infused oyster mushroom with pearl barley and Jerusalem artichoke risotto, served with raw almond Wensleydale cheese cremousse, sumac potato chips, baby chard and porcini pine ash. How’s that for exotic? The diversity of the flavours put together in these dishes is testament to the creativity of the kitchen, with ingredients from different cuisines combining to create a harmonious partnership of flavours. Both were utterly delicious.

Our main courses continued to deliver the same high standard of delight and intrigue. A Japanese-inspired aubergine dish came with tahini and white miso, edamame, a wonderful wasabi and yuzu pesto, soba noodles and vegetable-thread salad in a sesame and ginger dressing – fabulous flavour and textures. There was also a modern Italian-influenced delight incorporating Yarg cheese, smoked tomato, pea and mustard leaf croquette, buttered samphire, lovage purée, red pepper aioli, confit girolle mushrooms, griddled pearl onions and buttered broccoli. These two dishes were simply superb.

For afters, great local cheeses with various chutneys and breads were brought on a platter, and the Lush Truffle Brownie was amazing – a bomb of chocolate encasing salted caramel which oozed, when broken with a spoon, into a pool of crème fraîche and minty ice cream with minty miso shoots (inspired) and plum and blackberry sauce. A stunning dessert.

Creating flavoursome food without meat is always possible, of course, but the vegetarian food at Terre à Terre is leaps and bounds ahead of many restaurants serving meat. The level of sophistication of the food surprises, delights and surpasses expectations. It was a joyful experience and we will be returning. If your priority is impressing someone with food and service, this is a great venue for a first date, especially for a vegetarian.

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