When my friend told me a new French cafe had opened in town, I had to rush down there as soon as possible to test it out! Boulangerie Victor Hugo (or BVH, if you’re going to be cool about it) is located down town, past the Bargate and just past Zen and La Lupa.
I love me a fancy restaurant, and the last time I visited Brighton (way back in April), I decided to book a table at Graze, a place I’d heard some pretty good things about! Their lunch time tasting menu is actually really reasonable for a restaurant of their quality, so I was really excited to visit – and I wasn’t disappointed at all!
Before we even began on our starters, we were brought some delicious soup shots, and some bread with different kinds of butter (you guys know how much I love bread and butter!). This was a really nice touch, because the different flavoured butters really added a different dimension to this restaurant table staple. My favourite was the one flavoured with a hint of lemon.
Now, the menu above isn’t actually the one we picked from, as they had changed the starters and puddings and forgotten to swap the new menu in (we were the first customers of the day!). So, for my starter, I had pigeon salad, which was very nice indeed.
The salad and the peas were delicious, and the meat was smoky and gamey without being overpowering – and cooked to perfection!
The Mr. had a gorgeous wild garlic risotto, and loved every scrap of it – it was really tasty, and inspired me to try a similar dish when I got some wild garlic in my Riverford veg box (although it didn’t come out as bright green as this did!).
My main was the gorgeous braised pork belly, and it was velvety and delicious on its bed of celariac puree – I never thought of preparing celariac like this, but it was so smooth and creamy I might have to give it a try!
Totally unexpectedly, before our pudding we were treated to a palette cleanser!
For pudding, I had a really light and refreshing pineapple dish with Malibu ice-cream – the pineapple was cut so finely that it actually gave it a really interesting texture, much different to the usual chunky cut pineapple I usually eat.
The Mr. had a selection of ice creams and sorbets, which were all delicious, especially the ice cream – which I suspect was cardamom, but we never actually found out…
I was really surprised to be offered so many tasty and thoughtful extras with such a reasonably priced set menu, and I wasn’t disappointed by a single course. I came away feeling satisfied, but not full, and as though I had had a really excellent meal – sadly, not something you can say after every restaurant visit, especially not at this price…
Graze is currently taking bookings for their Christmas parties, and it looks as though the cheaper lunch tasting menu has been replaced with a more expensive dinner tasting menu, but you can also try their new British menu, or pop in for a Sunday roast!
To make this recipe, you first need a batch of white bread dough (for rolls) – you can either find fresh dough in the chiller cabinet of larger supermarkets (make sure it’s just plain old white bread dough, not focaccia or anything fancy like that!), or you can make a batch in your bread maker. This part is a faff, but the finished product is such an interesting and unusual way of using up leftover chicken, that I think it’s worth going to a little bit of extra effort – plus, these are portable, and perfect for lunches on the go!
- 1 batch fresh bread dough (see above)
- 400g (approx) dark turkey / chicken meat
- 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 bunch spring onions, shredded finely
- Shred the chicken, and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
- Once you’ve made your dough, turn it out and cut it into eight pieces, and roll each piece into a size slightly bigger than your palm.
- Place a spoonful of the chicken mix into the middle of the bun.
- Pull four corners into the middle and pinch, then do the same again with the leftover tabs, which should fall in between the compass points of the tabs you just sorted out. (It’s helpful to rock the bun back and forth at this point to shape the top nicely.)
- Set it on an oiled tray and put the rest together.
- Cover and allow to prove for 20 mins in a warm place.
- Preheat your oven to 190C and then brush the buns with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 15 mins, or until golden. You can also bake them for a shorter amount of time (12 mins or so) and then freeze them to bake again another day. (There are great instructions here for freezing and then reheating the buns at Cooking Cute.)
- Allow to cool slighty, then eat!
Well, it’s officially nearing the end of the summer, and that means that it’s our last chance to make use of some seasonal produce before… well, let’s not kid ourselves – pretty much everything from the summer is still available all winter round, albeit at a price. But my late summer favourites are strawberries, tomatoes and corn on the cob, and it’s now that these babies come into their own. All of these are on sale at supermarkets, but if you get yourself to a farmers’ market, you can get them even cheaper. Punnets of strawberries for a couple of quid, tubs of cherry tomatoes for 70p, I even bought five ears of corn for a pound a couple of weeks ago.
Here’s a great recipe I found in a foodie magazine ages back, for a crispy crouton and spicy tomato salad. Although it’s called Panzanella in my recipe folder, panzanella is usually made with bread that’s a bit soggier than the stuff you’ll find here. This recipe gives you fresh tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers, drizzled with a spicy, garlicy dressing, and pepped up with crunchy, crispy croutons. It’s one of my favourites, and you can make it all year round thanks to the supermarkets. But why not make it now, when everything’s at its cheapest and best?
Recipe for Crispy Panzanella
- 2 large garlic cloves
- One red chilli
- Sea salt
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- Pinch of sugar
- 200ml olive oil
- Small red onion
- 450g tomatoes
- Black olives
- Half a cucumber
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1 red pepper
- 1 very small loaf, torn into small chunks
- Handful of basil leaves
- Turn the oven onto medium heat and drizzle some of the olive oil over your bread chunks. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and bake in the oven until crunchy and golden brown.
- Cut your salad ingredients (pepper, cucumber, tomato, onion).
- Crush the garlic and chilli together in a pestle and mortar with some sea salt until you get a pungent paste.
- Mix the vinegar, sugar and olive oil together, and whisk in your chili, garlic and sea salt.
- Mix together the dressing with the vegetables, and allow them to sit for around an hour.
- Wait until just before serving to pour the veggies and sauce over your croutons, to keep them crispy and fresh. Tear over the basil leaves and serve.