savoury snark

a little bit culinary curmudgeon and a whole lot of love.

09 April 2009

mange tout - 81 trafalgar street, brighton

So as some of you may know, my time here in Brighton is soon coming to an end. The Hub has landed a job in sunny San Francisco and the bizarrely-long 6 month wait for his greencard is finally coming to an end. I feel sad about leaving but I just keep reminding myself that we are moving to a city that is pretty much known as the culinary Mecca of America. It helps. A bit.

So of course when I see this swanky little French eatery open up practically on my doorstep I have to sigh softly at yet one more place to which I will have to say good-bye. I stopped in a couple of weeks ago, during their opening weekend, after being lured in by all of their homemade cakes and pastries, clearly visible from the window.

The 2 French lads who run Mange Tout were very nice and quite enthusiastic. You can tell that they are really putting their heart and soul into this venture and it shows. It feels almost (dare I say?) American, in the way that when a restaurant in the U.S. gets it right it's damn near perfect.

The menu has all your French fare; from Croque Monsieurs and Madames, Chevre Salad and buttery croissants stuffed with ham and Gruyere. I will confess here and now that I have never been one to seek out French cuisine. And I'm admitting this fully aware that this might get me banned from the Culinary Cool Kids table. For a long time I believed that all French food had either eggs or mayonnaise or both. It's only recently that I have managed to get over my mayonnaise aversion (though it's still early days) and have dared to try eggs any way other than scrambled. Poached eggs with hollandaise used to be my worst culinary nightmare. I don't know what exactly I was so frightened of - it's fantastic.

Back to Mange Tout - it's situated right on Trafalgar Street where it can lure in rail commuters with the smell of fresh coffee and bread. Their coffee is locally roasted in Hove and I found it incredibly smooth with no bitterness - that's a good cuppa joe right there!

My goat's cheese salad was perfectly dressed and the croutons were not too hard or too soft as is often the case with croutons. I have the darnedest time getting them right myself.

I took a visiting friend there for brunch (and we all know how hard it is to find a good place for proper brunch here in the UK) and indulged in their lovely home-made French Onion soup. Or as it's known in France, Onion soup. It's a lovely spot for lunch, breakfast or coffee and, this being England, afternoon tea. It will no doubt fast become a favourite place for the locals to relax and unwind whilst reading the Sunday papers. Bliss.