insideSUSSEX Magazine Issue 14 - April 2016 - Page 31

FOOD+DRINK MODERN VEGETARIAN EATING AT 1847 A new vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free restaurant, Brighton is the fourth location in the 1847 family – and the only one down south. Founded by Damien Davenport in 2011, and first launched in Manchester to critical acclaim, it’s no wonder the 1847 empire is expanding: the menu is innovative, the setting is chic, and, most importantly, the food tastes divine. Polly Humphris went along and had her mind blown by caramelised cauliflower. Caramelised cauliflower? Who knew a bowl of dry-fried cauliflower in a gooey, sweet sauce would change the way I viewed a vegetable that I’ve never really understood. I certainly didn’t, but there I found myself finishing all of it and wiping up any excess with my delicately-buttered kale; there’s no question I would’ve licked the bowl had that been acceptable restaurant etiquette. A simple side dish, it was a welcome surprise, but then, oddly, inventive and satisfying vegetarian food is still considered a bit of a surprise by a lot of diners. Numerous times I’ve heard people comment that they feel as though they’re somehow ‘missing out’ if they’re not served meat or fish with a meal, or that they’ve ‘been cheated’ financially. But, consider the cost of everyday meat or fish and replace it with the price of excellent, organic, locally-sourced produce and you’re pretty much even Stevens, especially when the portions are this generous. Presented beautifully with a very classy aesthetic - think dark slate slabs for plates; deep, white bowls that highlight the rich colours of the ingredients; and the considered application of punchy herbs – the food served at 1847 smacks of fine dining, but delivers a portion that fills you up. At last. It’s not that I’m greedy, but experience, notably when I once left a 10-course tasting menu hungry, has taught me that I love to eat, not just taste. Nothing is average at 1847: the bright colours of the vegetables show you how fresh they are before the intense flavour hit they give confirms it; the laid back, but highly-informed service is spot on; and the wine menu – all vegan – is excellent. It’s only when you drink half a bottle of vegan red with not a minute of heavy headedness that you realise how free of additives it is when compared to a non-vegan counterpart. On to the food though. It’s always exciting to be presented with a meat-free menu that uses similar titles for dishes you’re familiar with, but only in a non-vegetarian setting. I opted for ‘Surf and Turf’ for this very reason – three ever-so-slightly caramelised aubergine steaks dished up with kohl rabi coleslaw and Jersey Royal potatoes. Hand on