Restaurant review #63 – This is the last restaurant review from our visit to Brighton (UK) last Summer. You can see an overview of all our reviews of our Brighton trip here.
I wish I could say I have saved the best for last, but helas.
Food for Friends is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Brighton, and a ‘household name’ as it were. So we definitely wanted to visit it during our mini break in Brighton and made a reservation for dinner.
It is located in the city center of Brighton, not far from the famous Brighton Pier.
We were told a reservation for 7.30 PM was not possible, but should come at 7.45. And so we did and we arrived a bit before 7.45, and were told to wait at the door till we could be seated. Despite several tables being vacant, we had to wait for about 10 minutes at the entrance. That was not really enjoyable.
Finally, somebody came to give us a table. The restaurant is divided into several smaller rooms, and there’s also an outdoor terrace. We could choose between a table right across the main entrance, or in the left room of the restaurant. Since the former table was also located right next to the door to the terrace (with waiters constantly going back and forth and draft coming in constantly because it is in between two outside doors) we choose not to sit there but at the other table, the one in the left room.
As we were seated, it was immediately apparent that we were not in for a relaxed cosy dinner. Tables are cramped so closely together at Food for Friends, we could practically eat of the plate of the people dining next to us. And this is even taking into consideration that in between our table and the next, there was a busy path of waiters going back and forth to serve all the other people in that left room. So we had a constant flow of staff running by right next to our table. And on the other side of our table was an entrance to a cellar, with steps going downstairs. Again with staff coming up and down.
And they were not just gently walking by, but stomping and nearly running. Everything seemed to happen quick quick quick! Which also made our table bounce along to the vibration of the wooden floor. Not nice.
So we tried focusing on the food. The menu looked very promising, and there was a lot of choice. Vegan options are clearly marked, also on the wine list.
We had some olives (£3,75 – rather expensive!) and drinks and made our order. Large sparkling water to go with dinner was £3,45, which was quite reasonable.
As a starter we had the raw terrine (£6) and a quinoa with bean salad (£6). the terrine was nice, the quinoa salad a bit dull and lacking flavour.
It took quite a while for the main dishes to be served. We had ordered the stuffed oven roasted Romano pepper with tomatoes, olives and sunflower seeds, with bean and taragon ragout and onion marmelade (£12) and the vegan option of the avocado and mango salad with baby leaves, cashews and mango dressing (hence without the haloumi but with crispy tofu) (£12,50).
Being eager to taste our main courses after such a long wait, we dug in. The dishes were nice, but not more than that really. After haven eaten a fair bit of salad I suddenly recalled the menu did mention more ingredients than salad, cashews and tofu? So something was missing … Sure thing. No avocado, nor mango. Not even at the bottom of the dish.
A manager (or head waiter) came to the table, apologised, and explained they sometimes have to leave out ingredients, to make the dish vegan, like for example ‘the mango dressing’, he said. Right! This left me even more confused, as the mango dressing WAS included, but the mango and avocado were left out.
After the long wait, in an unpleasant atmosphere, and with this confusion, we just wanted to get out of there. They did offer us dessert, but we just wanted to leave.
It was a really disappointing experience. The atmosphere was so crowded, it was loud and busy. Tables were being left uncleared after people had long left. Service was slow and food served was erratic. To their credit: they did not charge the mango avocado salad, and offered us dessert as a peacekeeping.
Household name? With so many tables cramped into the restaurant, we felt it was like a tourist trap. Anything but a relaxed evening out. Even our visits to the pubs and cafes in Brighton were far more relaxed and enjoyable than this! (for example at pub the Prince George and café V-Bites).
If we ever visit Brighton again, we will definitely not go back to Food for Friends.
Food for Friends, location
17-18 Prince Albert Street
The Lanes, Brighton BN1 1HF
Tel: 01273 202 310