Brighton Food
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Review | Semolina Café/Bistro

15 Baker Street, Brighton, BN1 4JN

Semolina is a small, independent café/bistro on Baker Street. Baker Street sits between London Road and The Level – this, as locals will know, is not somewhere you’d typically expect to find delicious food. However, between Bangers the pie shop (get their special Christmas pie and thank me in December) and Semolina, it’s proving itself to be well worth a visit.

I was drawn to Semolina last week by their set lunch menu. It changes weekly (big plus for this novelty seeker) and will set you back £12 for two courses or £15 for three. The dishes are seasonal and ingredients are sourced locally where possible, this coupled with the fact that they made it onto the top 20 restaurants in Brighton list last year makes that quite the bargain.

The interior of Semolina is quite unlike its surroundings, as are the people dining within. If I couldn’t see out of the window, I would never be able to tell you that I was so close to home. That’s not to say it’s stuffy, it’s a warm and friendly little dining environment filled with mirrors that make the cosy space feel larger.

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Roasted Cauliflower, Apple and Walnut Salad

From just its description I was a little nervous of this course. I was apprehensive of roasted (potentially soggy) cauliflower florets. What turned up far, far exceeded my expectations. A roasted cauliflower “steak” topped with well dressed salad leaves – the perfect balance of acid and sweetness – plus toasted walnuts and chopped apple. It was light, bright and the perfect precursor to the plate of carbs that was to follow.

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Pumpkin and Blue Cheese Lasagne with Sauteed Kale

This was just beautiful. The cheese was glorious, the pumpkin was perfectly soft and the pasta was a dream. I’ll absolutely be attempting to recreate this at home – and really, can you think of a more autumnal carbfest? The kale was served just the way I like it: with an almost heart stopping amount of garlic butter. I was lucky enough to fish out a tiny bit of foil from the lasagne just before I put it in my mouth and left it at the side of my plate – no big deal for me, these things happen, just a little quality control mishap – but was apologised to profusely once they’d seen it.

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Spiced Plum and Hazelnut Pavlova

A bit of a showstopper. Pavlovas are so often overdone on the sweetness front, with each element being too sugary rendering the overall dessert less than enjoyable to consume. Obviously, Semolina nailed it. The meringue was just gently sweet, the cream barely sweetened and the chilled but not unpleasantly cold plums were balanced with spice. There was also an anniseedy flavour coming from somewhere, but I couldn’t decide what it was. I should have asked, on reflection, but I suspected fennel seeds and was quite enjoying the mystery, really.

Based on the meal I ate there last week, I would without hesitation recommend Semolina to anyone looking for a good lunch date. What with the ever-changing menu, I think I’ll be taking Tom down there ASAP to give it a try as well. A special thank you, before I go, to my lovely Grandmother for taking me out for lunch.

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