Review – Food for Friends
Food for Friends is a bona-fide Brighton institution. Opening its doors over thirty years ago, this much-loved vegetarian eatery has gone from hippy hangout to chic, award-winning restaurant. The emphasis on producing vegetarian and vegan dishes that will appeal to both carnivores and vegetarians across a wide demographic is part of its charm, along with stylish and modern restaurant decor.
Food for Friends have recently reshaped their menu and introduced a range of mezze-style plates to be enjoyed as a starter, or to share between friends as a light lunch. The options here are vast and include variations on old favourites, as well as newer dishes.
Sat in prime people-watching position, by the large bay window at the front of the restaurant, idly sipping an excellent non-alcoholic (Sober October is going very well, thanks for asking) Lemon Zinger cocktail – awash with ginger, fresh mint and cucumber – we took our time deliberating over the range of dishes on offer.
We were recommended six mezze plates as the perfect lunch number for two people and agreed on the following: Sweet Tofu Pocket – stuffed with stir-fried soba noodles, pine nuts, pickled ginger, wakame and a tamari mirin dressing; Trio of Tahini Dips – pink peppercorn baba ghanoush, pea and mint hummus and lemon coriander hummus, served with toasted pitta; Goat’s Cheese, Sweet Potato & Basil Arancini – served with a tomato relish; Aubergine Fries – with a honey and rosemary dipping sauce; Black Lentil Dhal – with fresh coconut, crispy shallots and fresh coriander; Fresh Fig, Basil and Smoked Ricotta Salad – with pickled ginger crisps and toasted pine nuts in a honey mustard dressing.
Presented in gorgeous, vibrant Middle Eastern-esque bowls and served on long wooden boards, the mezze selection was quite the visual indulgence; so many colours to catch your eye, along with oodles of flavour wafting across the table. Where to start?
The tahini dips and pitta were a great choice, the smokey baba ghanoush being a standout alongside the refreshing pea and mint hummus. Our sweet tofu pocket was also a highlight: pickled ginger really perked up the dish and the soba noodles added a diverse texture to our feast. The aubergine fries were warm, crisp and well-cooked, and went excellently with the honey, lemon and rosemary dip.
The black lentil dhal came scattered with a handful of coriander and coconut, and proved a filling element to the mezze, if a little bland. The goat’s cheese arancini were slightly soggy by the time we came round to halving the bowl, the breadcrumb saturated with (a delicious) sweet, tomato relish. Slicing through the exterior revealed a light, sweet potato casing and a dollop of creamy, thick goat’s cheese.
We both adored our choice of salad – scattered with pine nuts and lashing of extra olive oil, the fig and ricotta both added sweet flavours to the mezze.
It will be interesting to see the introduction of warmer dishes as the days get cooler, but hats off to Food for Friends for jazzing up their menu by introducing this world-influenced mezze. I absolutely adore picking and nibbling on different dishes, which rendered the Food for Friends selection ideal for my taste. A little drizzle of honey and rosemary dip here, a fig there, pitta bread to mop up any juices – it was vegetarian lunchtime grazing at its finest.
Mezze selection to start or share; £4.50 each or 3 for £12.
Food for Friends, 17-18 Prince Albert Street, The Lanes, Brighton, BN1 1HF
Words and images by Claire Beveridge
Claire’s food was complimentary, courtesy of Food for Friends.