Gastronomical Gauthier

As the wonderful world of plant-based eating grows ever-more popular, it’s fascinating to see how traditionally trained chefs are exploring this new culinary frontier with a whole array of ingredients and techniques to explore. Which can only be a good thing – beneficial to our taste-buds as well as our bodies, and of course animals and the environment too.

Alexis Gauthier, head chef of Gauthier, has been in the UK press a few times recently, particularly the plant-based media after his appearance as guest judge on the latest series of Masterchef. A classically trained chef, he started exploring cooking with plants as far back as 1997 featuring a range of vegetarian, then vegan dishes. He currently has a multi-course tasting menu running alongside his ‘classic’ meat and fish menus. After becoming vegan himself, Gauthier announced last year that the restaurant would become fully vegan in the future. Which is quite something in the top restaurant market place. Continue reading “Gastronomical Gauthier”

All about 1847 – the restaurant not the year!

Having decided to have a business based around food, I spend a lot of time cooking, whether experimenting on the family in the kitchen or preparing dishes for my course participants or supper club attendees. Now don’t get me wrong, I do love it, but I also really enjoy someone else doing the cooking every now and then and having an evening out.

stuffed aubergine rolls
stuffed aubergine rolls

When you have to be careful with certain ingredients though, eating out can become a little challenging at times, depending where you are. More and more chain restaurants like Zizzi and Los Iguanas have cottoned on (which is great if you live near one) and provide dairy free, gluten free and vegan options for their more sensitive guests, but the choice is limited, so can get a little repetitive if you want to eat out regularly. Now that may sound a little picky, and to be honest I’m just grateful to be able to eat something that I know won’t make me ill! But sometimes it is nice to have more of a choice. Fortunately, living so close to Brighton, there is a veritable array of cafes and restaurants to chose from, serving up (mainly) delicious and innovative creations. The only dilemma then is choosing where to go and what to have, which when you’ve got used to such limited choice can be a little overwhelming at first!

Fragrant pakoras

1847 opened up in North Road in Brighton last year, right in the heart of the ever popular North Laines. It is part of a chain – there’s 4 locations now – and is light and modern inside. We booked quite early for a Saturday night as we had an event to go to after, but it was still pretty busy, so booking is definitely advised.What I love about restaurants like 1847 is that because they are dedicated to vegetarian or vegan food, the menu features vaiety, creativity and a real understanding of how plant based flavours combine, often in innovative ways. The menu clearly marked which were vegan and there were also gluten free options – a real bonus for the sensitive diner! The only one who struggled a little in choice was my hubby – aubergine was a big feature in the the vegan options and he’s not a fan, but he was happy with some deliciously lightly spiced pakoras to start followed by ‘fish’ and chips’ on a sweet pea puree – the presentation was so precise it was almost a shame he had to eat it!

Our friends tried the stuffed aubergine roll to start, which was also so pretty, followed by celeriac gratin made with local cheese – obviously not for the dairy free diner, but the construction was awesome and they declared it delicious . I opted for their ‘Surf and Turf’ option, a huge aubergine steak that was crisp on the outside and unctuously gooey on the inside, with a herb ‘butter’. The surf was sea vegetables, which I have to say didn’t really do it for me, but it was a clever idea.

Even though we were pretty stuffed, the dessert menu had options, so had to be tried. I had heard the vegan gluten free chocolate brownies were awesome, and I can confirm that rumour is true – my friend chose them and then we had to help her clear the plate as it’s a huge portion! Don’t order one for yourself unless you are seriously hungry. The vegan creme brûlée was also a big hit, and beautifully presented. Mine however, the trifle, was quite a disappointment as it promised much and delivered little. My mistake; curiosity and a childhood love of trifle tempted me but I should have had the brownies!

chocolate brownies
Amazing chocolate brownies

So all in all, we had a great experience at 1847 – fabulous gins, great food (mostly), super company (provide your own!) and all finished in time to go and enjoy the rest of our evening with happy tummies, but a slightly lighter wallet! I’m sure we’ll be back again some time soon – those brownies are calling!

Tasty tapas tasting!

For someone who loves lots of different flavours, and wants to try everything on the menu, tapas is perfect for me! But when you have to avoid dairy and (now) gluten, and chose to eat plant based, the choices in a restaurant are often limited to one, if I’m lucky.

So you can imagine my delight to discover that Iydea, one of may favourite eating places in Brighton, was opening a restaurant offering vegetarian and vegan tapas. And even more delighted when I managed to get my hands on two free passes to be trial tasters of their dishes. Yummy food for free – who could resist?

If you’ve not come across Iydea, then I urge you to go. Even if you’re not plant based, the food is delicious and healthy, plus very reasonably priced. They have two sites, one in Kensington Gardens in the North Laines, the other in Western Road. Service is canteen style and the atmosphere friendly and relaxed, with the menu changing daily. They have a wonderful array of salads, and you can choose a hot main with two sides and two toppings, and not want to eat for the rest of the day! The Western Road site has more space and includes an upstairs seating area – this is the location for the tapas bar, rootcandi.

As it stands. this is the only vegetarian tapas bar in the UK, and only one of two in Europe, the other being in Barcelona. So it’s a pretty unique set up. There’s a large choice on the menu; you can order just one or two single dishes or the set menu, designed for two people. And going more upmarket, rootcandi is full table service and licenced (I had an amazing vodka cocktail!).

The set menus offer you slightly better value than ordering individually, and are separated into three helpful categories. There’s ‘Preston’, which was vegetarian, ‘Stanmer’ was vegan and ‘Queens’  was gluten free, so all food choices were covered. Having said that, talking to Steve the owner, they were aiming to go completely plant based, so the menu items may well get updated. We went for ‘Queens’, although I was eyeing up the ‘Stanmer’ on the next table! The choices on the menu are eclectic, ranging from crisp courgette tempura (yum!), to a sharp tomato salad and rich roasted aubergine to a gorgeous lentil cake. All the flavours were there and a little spice too. Everything is presented on a specially designed rotating dish stand and whilst we easily ate everything up, it was plenty and I felt contentedly full afterwards.

Not full enough to avoid pudding though! These are not included as part of the tapas menu but, hey, it’s pudding and where there’s vegan and gluten free options, they just have to be tried! I had this gorgeous poached pear with a lovely dairy free ice cream, and Steve (my husband not the owner!) went for a trio of fruity sorbets – delicious!

Rootcandi is open Tuesday to Saturday evenings from 6pm and Sunday from 12 onwards. We will definitely be going down again soon – probably this week now, as my appetite has been whetted again just writing this! Do go along, and try this unique dining experience for yourself and see how tasty plant based food can be.