Make some gooey chocolate brownies and stuffed portobello mushrooms with Food For Friends in Brighton, England.
How did you get started?
The restaurant was originally a vegetarian cafe in 1981, popular with students and hippies. Ramin and Jane took over in 2004 with the aim of creating a more sophisticated restaurant with gourmet vegetarian dishes. Their shared love of food and eating out meant that these two were destined to leave the corporate world and own a restaurant.
Ramin is originally from Iran, and brings tales of sunnier lands and exotic Persian flavours. Prior to Food for Friends Ramin worked as a Management Consultant throughout the UK, now he is an expert at developing new dishes and running a successful restaurant.
Jane is a mastermind with recipes, there is not a cookbook worth having that she doesn’t own. She has adapted hundreds of recipes to allow for the various dietary requirements catered for in the restaurant.
Where are you located?
The restaurant is located in the vibrant and historic Brighton South Lanes and is just a moment’s walk to the sea. The Edwardian building is truly stunning with huge glass windows, giving the restaurant a beautiful airy feel and the diners a lovely view of the lanes.
What are your specialities?
The food has influences from around the globe and includes a sharing mezze menu with 14 dishes. Our most popular dish is probably the Curry Platter; aubergine, spinach, butternut and chickpea Balti-style curry served with herby coconut and pea basmati rice, turmeric raita, tomato, coriander and red onion salad and papadum – vegan, gluten free. We rely on flavour, fresh ingredients and unusual combinations, which is why the restaurant is packed with all lovers of fabulous food. We also do a Sunday roast and afternoon tea every day. And don't miss out on dessert, our most popular is the Coconut and black sesame ‘arancini’ with fresh coconut, black sesame and trio of mango – sorbet, gel and diced (vegan).
What's your personal favorite thing on the menu?
I just love the new mezze menu as it allows you to share food which I think makes food taste even better. My personal favourite mezze dishes are the Scotch egg with chickpea and grated carrots, with a hint of chilli and cumin, served with sweet chilli mayonnaise and Beets, potato and parsnip spiced rostis with a sweet tamarind and date sauce (vegan, gluten free). The haloumi burger is astonishing (but I can't eat it every day!) with balsamic portobello mushroom, grilled pepper, gherkins and red onion marmalade in homemade brioche bun served with triple cooked chips, honey and mustard mayo and winter slaw.
What's on the stereo?
We have a relaxed, friendly atomsphere here so the music has to match - folk, blues and pop songs with great vocals. We love a bit of Ben Howard!
Where else should we visit in your area?
Well we're right by the beach so it'd be rude not to go for a stroll along the seafront! We are in the middle of the historic South Lanes just you can really enjoy the buzz of the place and stroll through the alleys, enjoy some window shopping in the antique shops and boutiques. The Brighton Pavillion is also just around the corner and is a must-see for any visitors!
Do you host any special events?
Our building has loads of history but is also a bit of a funny layout which isn't ideal for event hosting but we often have wedding parties as the town hall is just around the corner. We're hoping to introduce some tasting evenings in 2015 with local wine and cheeses.
Is there anything else you'd like us to know?
Recent accolades include a position in the Good Food Guide 2015 and runner-up as Best Ethical Restaurant in the UK in the Observer Food Monthly Awards. We also recently finish our vegetarian recipe iBook with over 100 recipes. It's based on our original cookbook which was recommended by the BBC Good Food Magazine and was voted one of the top ten vegetarian cookbooks by The Independent.
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