Having moved to Hove in the last five months, I feel I’ve made a small dent in the long list of eateries to try out. Many are chains or have a chain-like feel, but there are a few gems dotted around the town. One of these jewels is The Foragers on Stirling Place, which has withheld a strong reputation as one of the number one foodie destinations in the area. I spent a sunny Wednesday morning working from home until the clock stuck midday and it became time to set off on the shortest commute ever (three minutes if you were wondering). Meeting my colleague outside just after opening time, the sun burned through the clouds and released the full heat of this particular spring afternoon. Greeted by Valdis, one of The Foragers’ most conscientious employees, with a smile we felt valued and welcome from the off. The dark blues of the walls in winter risk a gloomy atmosphere but with the change of the season, there’s been an update in the artwork on the walls too. Vibrant pinks and yellows make the whole place pop and nod towards the flexibility of the venue as a relaxed restaurant and fun evening venue all at once.
Having visited The Foragers a few times I was excited to have a glass of their delicious Sauvignon Blanc with my meal (I’m sure it was 5 o’ clock somewhere). I hesitated for a moment when Valdis presented their new dry yet aromatic Altoritas sauv blanc, but really shouldn’t have, as it’s actually nicer than my all-time favourite. A very encouraging start! Taking a seat by the door, we had a soft breeze coming in as we perused the seasonally focused menu. The clean and classy interior was matched with a chilled out play list and made us comfortable straight away. Cracking on, we opted for the pan-roast scallops, pea and mint puree and crispy parma ham (£8.50). Sharing this starter was a mistake, as I could very easily have eaten the whole serving myself and licked the plate clean. I’ve had scallops in a fair amount of different restaurants now and I can wholeheartedly say these were the most wonderfully cooked I’ve come across. Usually overly buttery for my liking, the flavour of these scallops burst through to my taste buds. They went down so well with the pair of us. Some were left with the roe on for a bit of variety and the pea and mint puree gave a rich flavour that married up with the crispy parma ham beautifully. I really enjoyed the eclectic variety of textures juxtaposed on the plate.
A newly converted vegetarian, my colleague opted for the wild mushrooms, butternut squash puff pastry parcel with parmentier potatoes and creamed wild garlic (£11.50) for her main. Not the only veggie dish on the menu, which is refreshing, it was certainly the more inventive of the two. She really enjoyed the dish as the squash punctuated the crispy pastry (not always the most exciting taste), and the wild mushrooms and creamy garlic added so much to the dish with every bite. Though a little autumnal, the portion size lent the meal to the warmer weather and the parmentier potatoes were fabulously crispy but fluffy in the middle. I opted for the whole grilled lemon sole, buttered new potatoes and salad (£12). As suggested, it was served as is (minus its head for those who don’t enjoy their food watching them) so I was treated to both the soft and moist inner part of the sole and the crispier outer section. Adorned with capers and small, peeled lemon wedges, the fish didn’t need anything else – it was faultless and lifted by each component. The flavours present mimicked the long awaited spring sunshine and filled the gap in my world for a really well put together fish dish. My potatoes were enriched with a lovely buttery dill and herb sauce – just a little to add flavour.
Despite my full stomach, my colleague’s chocoholicism (if that’s a word…) won out and we did a number on the dessert menu. Going for the white chocolate mousse, strawberries and coffee syrup (£6.50), we were able to get through the first treat with ease because of its light consistency. I was tipped over the edge by the decadent Foragers vanilla, brownie and chocolate sauce sundae (£8). Fortunately, I found solace in my glass of wine as my colleague scarfed down the beautiful combination of homemade brownie and ice cream.
After our gluttonous lunchtime, we were both ready to head to the beach and sleep it off. Instead, we set off for the office and sat at our desks barely able to keep our eyes open.
The Foragers is at 3 Stirling Place, Hove, BN3 3YU