Alternative and traditional festive dining in Brighton

by - December 08, 2011

UPDATE: Aloka has now closed its doors. Review for historical purposes. For vegan food in Brighton try Terre a Terre, Infinity Cafe, Lydea or The George Pub (Trafalgar Street).

Although Brighton has restaurants happily serving the full turkey shebang, we of course have to put our alternative slant on it (without having to resort to putting a Christmas dinner on a pizza - you know who you are!). Here are my picks for something a little different yet still decadent from Indian and Scandinavian festive menus to raw and vegetarian treats as well as some good ol' British warming food.

Aloka who specialise in botanical (raw/vegan) cuisine have probably the most alternative festive menu at their snow white restaurant with items such as a raw Mince Pie which translates to king oyster mushroom & prune ragout with ruby sauerkraut and hazelnut infusion dressing and Caribbean Christmas Pudding with mango chia pearl, maca bourbon vanilla ice-cream with lime and coconut crust. Think Saf but at a more wallet friendly cost. Now we have had a chance to get our heads around Aloka, this multi-use establishment has really found its place in Brighton. I was in there at the weekend for a rather lovely pregnancy massage at their day spa and the place was packed with diners in the cafe and restaurant.

Vegetarian favourites, Terre a Terre, have a special menu and I'm pleased to see that they have not let us down with their typically pun-tastic dish titles we have come to love from them like Baby Cheeses’ (Pumpkin verrine and beet terrine, with baby sheep cheeses’ soaked in caraway and dill, parsley and mixed pepper salt, served with star anise and scrumpy vinegar damsons walnut brittle crumble) and I Did It My Sleigh (Panforte pain perdu crammed full of pied de mouton mushroom ragout, served with roast rosemary parsnip potato pave, buttered sprout tops with sage and onion crispy, poached cranberries and big rich mulled Merlot sauce.)
Available from December 6th to January 6th.

Ah, any excuse for a visit to Chilli Pickle! Their festive menu looks divine with the likes of Banjra Venison, Goose MoMos, Crispy pork belly vindaloo and Parsnip Pakoras. Sad to see their amazing Venison Tandoori (in the pic above) I had the other year wasn't on the menu but I'm sure it will be fantastic regardless.

Or maybe you fancy something a little cooler and Scandinavian inspired? Northern Lights is probably the only place where reindeer is on the menu as well as dressed egg halves, Nordic Christmas ham, smoked fish balls and of course proper Gravadlax.

Although if you did want to stay classic this Christmas, you should really check out the following menus from restaurants who can always be relied upon for decent, local and solid cooking.

Due South has a lovely sounding menu with Whole Roasted Partridge with Bacon and Chestnuts and a twist on a classic with a Hay-Smoked Rice Pudding with Christmas Spiced Ice Cream.

The Gingerman Group will be serving a cockle-warming Oxtail and Kidney Steamed Pudding. Oh yes.

I've always liked Sam's of Brighton for their no-nonsense approach and I would be more than happy tucking into the Braised Blade of Beef, Creamed Potatoes, Curly Kale, and Braising Liquor.

Next up Brighton Gifts and Event guide!

All images apart from Chilli Pickle from respective websites.

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