Terre a Terre probably doesn’t need another review. Scores of highly esteemed food critiques from all corners of the country have paid homage to this 23 year old multi-award winning vegetarian restaurant. But at Taste of Brighton we've a particularly big place in our heart for food not derived from friends of the furry or feathered kind. And so it seemed only right to doff our hat at its excellence and give you our love letter to this homely establishment.
Its menu has developed somewhat since the days of signature dishes such as halloumi "fish" and chips - pioneered by Terre a Terre some ten years ago, now commonplace in most bars as the staple, faithful vegetarian option. What remains is a menu indicative of Terre a Terre's innovation. It resembles a Dr Seuss book, a pop up one at that, with alliterative, playful and vivacious descriptions such as "better batter and lemony Yemini relish" bursting out of the page. It's dense, revealing extensive detail of the delights of each dish. But if you forgot your culinary dictionary fear not, for the incredibly knowledgeable waiting staff are more than willing to give credence to anything you're unsure of.
Beginning with the soups; they unsurprisingly aren’t simply a bland-blend of leftovers. They're curated by a chosen ingredient; a vegetable in residency who dictates the weeks soupy schedule. In the case of my visit it was centred around cool artist "the cucumber", exhibiting options such as Tuesday's Japanese umami broth with Sushi rice, lapsang pickled cucumber, bean sprouts, spring onion, sesame seeds and shiso cress served with Kraken bread and (we're not done yet) pickled mouli, chilli sambal and soya yuzu butter.
If you want to side step the soups then the Tapas Plate serves as a safe starter. Terre a Terre is commonly referred to as "fusion food" and this taster plate really epitomises that. A myriad of Middle Eastern, Mexican and South-East Asian flavours, that'll have you globe-trotting from dish-to-dish like an excitable gap year student. It's an experience that can tire your taste buds. That's no criticism; there are worse ways to tucker yourself out. For the main course however, I was ready to stay in one country and opted for India with the Pappamosa Parsi; crunchy fried "packets" - not too dissimilar in texture or taste to samosas - sitting amongst an assortment of regional fresh salads, and crisp sev bhel puri which if you've had the pleasure of dining at Brighton's legendary Planet India - you'll know is a delight. It's topped with chutneys, relish and lashings of lassi. And relish in the relish I did. It was delicious.
The simplicity of my companion dish - Griddled Green Runner Beans with Black Sesame Salt and Lime made for gentle reprieve, until I threw a grenade in there with a side of Advocado Kokado causing chaos to my taste buds once again. New to the menu this distinctly flavoured Assam tea steeped rice pouch is served with raw activated cashew cream and fresh avocado whizz - one of the few dalliances with raw foods. Based on this winning combination, I'd certainly vote to see more raw foods on the menu.
As I contemplated whether to end my Terre a Terre travels with the Mexican Churrosimo a table of six arrived beside me. One considerably excited party member proclaimed "I love it here!" then proceeded to reel off the menu the dishes that he had and hadn’t tried, like an excitable child leafing through a sticker packet "had it, want it-need it, got it".
Terre a Terre had clearly won the heart of this herbivore as well as mine. And I'm sure will continue to do so for all of its future frequenters, rightfully earning itself the title as a firmly woven favourite in Brighton's rich tapestry of eateries.
Terre a Terre, 71 East Street, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1HQ
T: 01273 729051 e: firstname.lastname@example.org