- November 29, 2016
In the recent Brighton and Hove Food and Drink Festival Awards, Food For Friends won the bronze award, a fine accolade for a restaurant that over the last few years I have come to respect. Bronze is good when you see who the public voted had pitted them against and it was certainly enough to remind me how good my last meal had been there.
So with Mr F we decided to drop in and have a look at some of the new dishes that have been put on the menu as we head into the festive season.
I was having a tough day, sprained ankle, late taxi, you know the kind of thing. So when our waiter waved the cocktail menu under my nose I was there and before very long drinking an excellent sour plum fairy, very appropriate I thought given my mood. The mood was soon to lift though as the drink was good, as were the nuts and seeds that came with them dressed in a mix of pomegranate molasses and Tamara.
We found the Christmas dishes on the set dinner menu and tempting as they were Mr F chose his starter from the a la carte selection, a stuffed courgette flower. When it arrived I looked on with envy as he cut open the delicate flowers and a mixture of creamy soft cheeses oozed out. It looked wonderful and he declared it to be very tasty too.
My starter of chestnut, parsnip and cumin rosti was excellent too, the rosti a perfectly seasoned mix of vegetable and nuts and the outsides wonderfully crisp. There was a creamy dressing and a sharp cranberry compote too and the addition of crispy kale added a wonderful bitter note against the sweet flavours and excellent texture too. If I had one complaint, and this will sound mean and lots of you will see it as a plus, it was just a bit too big. I would have been satisfied to dine on the dish as a main course. That’s just me and I should never criticise hearty and generous dishes really.
This was the best pudding I have tasted in some time, truly delicious
For his main course Mr F chose Jerusalem artichoke fritters with caramelised turnip gyoza, celeriac and pistachio purée, braised leeks and spiced plum sauce. He relished the dish and kept telling me about the component parts as he crossed the plate from ingredient to ingredient. I have to say it looked very good and the presentation was very stylish indeed.
My main course was an easy choice as I love king oyster mushrooms. These were delivered with chestnut and walnut rissole cakes, saffron mash and a rich red wine and cranberry jus. The mushrooms were expertly cooked, grilled to perfection so that the exteriors were crisp and savoury but inside remained sweet and soft. The chestnut and walnut rissole cakes reminded me of Lebanese kibbi which is a very good thing and I absolutely loved the saffron mash which was perfectly made and judiciously seasoned with the musky saffron. The presence of cranberry added a good sour note but I felt that I had already had that with my rosti, which was a shame, but neither wrong or a disaster.
We drank a bottle of their house white which is decent, as of course it should be, and sensibly priced in a city where some house wines are commanding rather silly prices. And although we were both rather full, I pointed out to Mr F that this was after all work and not fun, haha.
So desserts were ordered. Mr F chose the spiced poached pear with chocolate cointreau mousse, orange powder and a flax and chia seed snap and once again the presentation was first class, the food here is certainly very stylish. It also eats well as Mr F was pleased to announce and he made light work of his pud.
I chose the maple and muscovado parfait with a caramelised pistachio crumb and a cardamom and clementine sorbet. I love desserts and I really loved this, it was an extraordinarily good pud, a creamy parfait dotted with crisp caramel pieces, with the scented delight of maple and the almost burnt sugar flavour of the muscavado, the crumb beneath added a brilliant textural contrast too. But the real delight was the sorbet which was packed with bitter sweet notes that balanced the rich and creamy parfait. I was already full, I should have stopped at the main – but I didn’t and I am very glad I didn’t. This was the best pudding I have tasted in some time, truly delicious.
Did I mention that Food For Friends is vegetarian? No? Well no need really, it is great on any level, it just doesn’t serve meat or fish!
Food for Friends, 17-18 Prince Albert Street, Brighton, BN1 1HF
01273 202 310, foodfrofriends.com