So let’s be honest. If you’re thinking about having a vegetarian meal out in Brighton, the Grand’s GB1 restaurant isn’t necessarily the first place you’d think of. It’s about seafood, right?
Well yes and no. To celebrate National Vegetarian Week, exec chef Alan White has created an exclusive vegan menu – and from later in the season they’re looking at adding more veggie options to the standard menus.
But can they stand the test here? Can this restaurant with its huge range of fish and grill foods actually pull it out of the bag when it comes to plant-based dinners? We went along to find out…
Firstly, it’s only fair to warn excited vegetarians and vegans that at this stage, this is still a bit of a trial. So if you rock up after Veggie Week in all honesty there isn’t a huge range of vegetarian options on the standard menu. However, we understand that the dream is to roll out more options later in the year, and for that reason we felt it was a good opportunity to see what might be waiting in the wings, so to speak.
Can this restaurant with its huge range of fish and grill foods actually pull it out of the bag when it comes to plant-based dinners?
The special menu looked good – a carrot falafel starter with lots of trimmings; roast aubergine, coconut and peanut butter curry; and a pineapple tarte tatin with coconut ice cream. Plenty of flavour and oomph there, and nothing that isn’t a plant. For those that want to know (and we did add one of these to our review) there are other standard vegetarian options on the menu in the shape of a heritage tomatoes starter dish; and ricotta and spinach dumplings and a lovely looking cauliflower steak dish for mains. Pescatarians are well-covered here, with plenty of fish dishes and there’s vegetarian options for dessert. You can see the full menus here. But anyway, on to the food.
Carrot falafel with pickled cabbage, caramelized apple puree, roast beets, sunflower seeds, vegan yoghurt and coriander £8
This is an interesting dish – the falafels were light, with a gentle flavour and smooth texture. The roasted beets (golden beetroot, a favourite) really worked with the little patties, but perhaps the apple puree and the pickled cabbage both a bit on the sharp side for the other soft flavours.
There’s quite a lot going on in this little plate, perhaps a bit too much. We felt that the falafels were a bit overshadowed by the apple/pickles, and the gentle earthiness of the beets was a bit lost too. Overall a perfectly executed dish. Drop the apple and perhaps replace with a bit more yog, or some sweet chutney and we felt it would have been a better combination.
Roast aubergine, coconut and peanut butter curry, charred sugar snaps, sweet potato, vegan yoghurt, coriancer, and coconut jasmine rice balls £13
So having said that the last dish was a bit busy, this one is positively bursting at the seams, an absolute PARTY on a plate. But whereas the starter felt a bit like some random friends invited round for a slightly awkward drinks mixer, this dish is a room full of mates who have known each other for years and get along like a house on fire.
Never mind the fact this is a vegan dish, it’s an outstanding dish! The curry was moreish, the sort of thing you can’t get enough of. Lots of coconut and nuttiness going on throughout it, and then the aromatic jasmine rice, the sweetness of sugar snaps. A fantastic plate of food. And FILLING!! Loved it.
Dumplings with Ricotta cheese, spinach and potato, rolled with pea, cashew nut pesto, with baby vegetables £18
This is one of their standard vegetarian dishes and we thought we’d give it a crack as you will find this on the menu regardless of timing. It’s considerably more filling that it looks – it’s pretty rich with lots of cheese throughout – not just stuffed in the oriental-style dumplings but through the peas and sliced on top.
The baby vegetables really lift this dish – in particular the fennel, which almost single-handedly saves it from being too heavy. It’s a good, sturdy vegetarian dish with some nice touches of finesse and definitely much better than getting a vegetable lasagne or a stuffed mushroom, as is so often the case for poor veggies.
Pineapple Tarte Tatin with vegan coconut ice cream £8
Oh. My. God. If you do one thing this Vegetarian Week it should be to try this pud. What a triumph! The icky sticky gooey sweetness of the caramel and the oozing pastry is totally lifted into another room by the hot, not-as-sweet fresh pineapple, and the ice cream!
There’s always as a place for coconut ice cream in my book, and on my plate is normally my favourite place. On top of griddled pineapple and with a caramel swizzle it’s at its absolute best. I thought I couldn’t manage all of this but by god I found the space. Heaven.
It was lunchtime so just the one glass of Rose, a Estandon Legende Cote du Provence, £14 for 250ml. Light and dry with some good sturdy orange colour – perfect for rich vegetarian dishes like what we had.
It’s a shame that there aren’t more vegetarian options on the normal menu, because we felt like having the vegan treats we tried was a bit of a tease. But from what we understand this is to be rectified and we can only think it’s a good thing. The kitchen at GB1 has shown that it’s more than capable of turning out really good plant based food, and whilst it’s likely I’ll always order oysters or fish whilst I’m there – it’s a fish restaurant after all – if there were more veggie options I’d definitely be drawn to them too. Fingers crossed for an extended planty offering from late summer onwards, but for now, you’ve got a few days left to try the vegan menu and we strongly recommend you give it a go.