Few people expect to enjoy the culinary peak experience of a lifetime in a vegetarian restaurant, but the light and lovely Terre à Terre in Brighton, England, takes the bean cake. Over three-quarters of the restaurant's clientele are simply flirting with a meat-free lifestyle, drawn by exquisite dishes dreamed up by chefs Amanda Powley and Philip Taylor. Both are practicing vegetarians, but neither wastes a heartbeat worrying about the ingredients they can't useinstead, they focus on producing a rich and varied spread using the huge variety of meat-free foodstuffs.
Located in the southern end of Brighton's famous Lanesa warren, typical of 16th century town planningthe restaurant sits comfortably among the trendy bars and boutiques where cocktails and funky sneakers go hand in hand. The relaxed hedonism of the city is mirrored in the restaurant's philosophy. Powley states their mission simply: "There is a legacy of pessimism about vegetarianism, but we love eating. We love drinking. Why give that up?" Why indeed? The menu is loaded with simple showstoppers. Appetizers like wasabi cashews and Kalamata olives marinated in pomegranate molasses whet your appetite for the unforgettable entrées: thin threads of pasta on saffron-poached artichoke hearts and creamy chard, or cheddar cheese soufflé served with samphire (a delicious salt-marsh vegetable). Then sink your spoon into lemon parfait with elderflower sorbet or cold strawberry soup with a Pimms-laced cucumber salad. Every mouthful is a parade of unique flavors you never even knew existed. No wonder curious carnivores are booking in droves. Moderate pricesjust over $20 for a main coursemake experimentation even easier, and Terre à Terre's creativity and attention to detail, not to mention the smooth presentation and service, won't leave any guest wondering, "Where's the beef?" tel: (44-1273) 729051; www.terreaterre.co.uk