BRIGHTON’S oldest vegetarian restaurant has won a prestigious award.

Food for Friends in the South Lanes has been included in the Time Out Eat List, which chooses one outstanding restaurant from each of 20 cities in the UK.

The restaurant, founded in 1981, was described in Time Out’s list as “an award-winning vegetarian restaurant in the South Lanes specialising in dishes to be shared with the whole table”. It said “Food For Friends has become as much of a hit with meat-eaters as vegetarians”.

The Eat List recognises the best places to eat across the country, from cheap and innovative new restaurants to fine dining. It was compiled by editors and contributing writers who travelled the UK and dined their way through hundreds of restaurants.

Food for Friends manager Tim Greaves said: “It’s an unbelievable honour: there are really good restaurants in the list. It’s brilliant.

“We serve really good food for a really good price. We get a lot of people who were students in the 80s who come back with their families. I hear that about five times a day.

“We had a wedding reception here earlier this week with a group of former Brighton students.

“We also get a lot of couples where one’s vegetarian and the other isn’t, and people who come to share out large plates or just try a few small ones.

“We’ve been really busy. It looks like small plate dining is here to stay.

“The menu changes throughout the year with seasonal products.

“On the moment at the minute we’ve got crispy Thai cauliflower, marinated tofu, pumpkin risotto, and mulled spice crème brûlée.

“The food changes with the seasons, but it has also changed since our new owners took over 18 months ago and as vegetarian and vegan food has evolved over the last 40 years.

“We want to make people leave happy. That’s pretty much my remit.”

The Argus has visited the restaurant several times and said the food was delicious.

Argus Reviewer Ben James found it “small, fresh and seasonal”. The devil, he said, was in the detail.

“The bread board sets the bar high. This is not your standard baguette and butter arrangement. The wooden platter features a selection of white, granary and focaccia breads, served alongside pots of olives, sun-dried tomato and classic basil pestos.

“It works well paired with a local beer and cocktail, the Elderflower Fizz, which is crisp and fruity, bringing together gin and elderflower liqueur, topped with Prosecco and a lemon garnish.

“The starter menu is difficult to select from – it would be easy to order several and fashion a sort of tapas, veggie feast.

“Look out for the Portobello rolls, thin slivers of mushroom stuffed with cashew nuts and a herby cheese, drizzled with a delicate and earthy garlic truffle foam and spinach and lemon puree.

“The mild and gooey burrata cheese dish is a beauty to behold, bright, pink grapefruit segments, the crunch of roasted pumpkin seeds and the lovely symmetry of delicately charred asparagus.

“The burrata cheese, a soft Italian mozzarella, sits plump and pleasant at the heart of the plate.

“Highlights of the mains include the open saffron ravioli, sheets of delicate pasta draped over a blend of spiced beetroot, wilted baby spinach and garden peas.

“The soft textures are given crunch from toasted pine nuts and crispy sage, and the components come together with a creamy goat’s cheese and rosemary sauce.

“But a winner is the rich Portobello mushrooms topped with feta, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts.

“The earthy mushrooms are accompanied by a sweet potato boulangere, fine beans, red green pesto and crème fraîche. This is a salty and satisfying dish - the vegetarian’s answer to a classic steak and chips.

“Mouth-watering puddings include a deconstructed cheesecake and black sesame arancini (stuffed rice balls).

“The classic sticky toffee pudding comes thick with chopped dates, butterscotch and spice, topped with a caramel tuile disc for extra crunch. The molten chocolate pudding is the stuff of a Masterchef highlights reel - the pudding’s oozing centre blends with a salted caramel sauce, vanilla ice cream and crushed pistachios.”

Ben said foodies should rejoice at Food for Friend’s excellent menu and hailed the place “a true local favourite.”

Since Food for Friends came under new ownership last summer, the previous owners have decided to open a new restaurant.

Husband and wife Ramin and Jane Mostowfi are planning to open their new venture Kindling in East Street next month. The menu focuses on plant based dishes and the centrepiece of this will be an open kitchen with a wood fire, which Ramin says will give the food a “unique flavour”.

The seasoned restaurateurs sold Food for Friends after 15 successful years at the helm, and it is still reaping in awards.