Brighton will forever be one of my favourite places. Last year when I went there for Vegfest it was not only my first time in Brighton, but my first holiday with Mr HH, and we had such a wonderful time exploring, eating and enjoying the sea air. We had no choice but to return for Vegfest 2015 last weekend, and found ourselves revisiting the same cafes and restaurants (even ordering the same dishes occasionally) and having just as magical a time. This year I am on the prowl for as many afternoon teas as possible, and the Terre a Terre special was too good to resist. As Terre a Terre is a meat-free fine dining restaurant with a wonderfully inventive menu – it’s the fanciest vegan food I’ve eaten – it proved an excellent addition to the itinerary.
It is, of course, no ordinary afternoon tea. The savoury plate comprises various elements from the normal menu – not a cucumber sandwich in sight! At the front of the picture you can see pickled lotus root slices, sandwiching some delicious chunks of sesame hoisin tofu – a lovely crunchy layer of seeds, and some quite sweet flavours mingling throughout. This was the highlight of the plate for me. In the back right are the arepas (Venezuelan corn cakes, which in this case are chip-shaped, deep-fried and a wee bit spicy). They’re served with a lovely avocado hash. Usually I feel like you should be able to eat an afternoon tea with your fingers, but here we had about eight different pieces of cutlery. While we didn’t use most of them, it was nice to be able to scoop up any lingering traces of avocado with a spoon. It would be a sin to waste it! Finally, in the back left, you should be able to glimpse the tapioca cracker, which was lovely and crisp, with some pickled vegetables, including lovely vibrant beetroot.
Not only was it a tasty plate, it was also a nicely colourful one, with the yellow lotus root, green avocado and purple beetroot. And, somewhat untraditionally, each person receives their own plate of savouries – presumably as some of them are a little too delicate to move!
The sweet plate also looked very enticing. It deviated from the menu slightly, but we had no grounds for complaint. First we tried the chocolate cake at the fore of the picture, and to be honest, it was a little disappointing. The sponge was quite dry and it was all a bit heavy. I wouldn’t have wanted a much bigger slice, let’s say. Next we had the small cake to the left of it: a polenta cake with a fruity bit of sauce on top. I’d never had polenta cake before and now I wonder why – it was glorious! The outside was almost biscuit-like in its crumbliness, but when you bit into it it was really soft and moist, and everything the chocolate cake wasn’t. I definitely wouldn’t have complained about a bigger piece of that!
Behind the polenta cake is half each of a mini banana cupcake. Well, that is rather a simplified version: it is in fact a hot banana almond spice cake. It was nice and moist as well, and served with a pineapple chunk, but it wasn’t as flavoursome as I’d hoped, and wasn’t as good as the polenta cake. We finished on a high with the mini churros. Ah, churros. They are the best dessert on the main menu, and these mini ones left me wanting more. They were nice and warm, coated in cinnamon sugar and served with little pots of vodka cherries (meh) and melted chocolate (yum!). Delicious!
And finally, the scones. The texture was good, but they were quite small and I actually preferred the ones from February’s afternoon tea at The Hideaway. But the home-made jam was a lovely touch, and the oat cream was a really welcome addition – far superior to a bit of spread. And basically I could eat scones all day every day: they were really nice.
Afternoon tea is £18.95 per person at Terre a Terre, so it’s not cheap but it really is value for money. It’s extravagant, ideal for a special occasion, and a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds! Service was fast and friendly, and it’s nice to have a vegan option that’s as creative and tempting as it’s “normal” counterpart. I usually judge vegan food in restaurants by asking myself: “Would they serve this to omnivores as well?”, and while sometimes I’ve found the vegan options to be disappointingly bland or simple, here it was a resounding “YES!” And for all my claims that I could have eaten more, I was actually extremely full at the end and had to waddle up the hill to the train station. It’s probably just as well I was sitting down for the next few hours on the train home!