We don’t normally go to town on the weekend, if we can possibly avoid it. Especially in the summer, as it’s so manic with tourists and people out enjoying the sunshine. But this weekend Big S and I were visiting the Theatre Royal to try out their new family friendly app backstage tour. We all bundled on the train together in the morning, then Rob and Little D went off for a wander in the Pavilion gardens and a coffee (and second breakfast) at Small Batch while Big S and I went off to do our tour (you can read about the tour in my review for welovebrighton.com).
After the tour we decided to treat ourselves to lunch in town, as the sun was shining and it had turned into a glorious day. As it wasn’t quite twelve and most restaurants weren’t serving yet, we wandered over to the Pavilion gardens so Big S could have a run around and burn off some energy. As always, there was a busker performing and we stopped and listened for a few minutes. My kids both love buskers, so I rarely get to walk past one. Since Big S was tiny he’s been fascinated by live music, starting with a pair of buskers we used to see at the Pavilion gardens very frequently, who had a steel drum and a saxophone. As soon as he was old enough Big S would toddle over to deposit some change in their case and he still loves to do that now.
The flowers were in bloom in the gardens and Rob and Big S stopped to inspect them more closely from over a fence. Big S was quite taken with the giant daisies; much more impressive than the little ones in the lawn at home, that he loves to pick for me.
We decided to go to Wahaca for lunch, as it was just around the corner and Rob, having been to one in London before, was sure they’d be able to cope with our many food allergies. We must have been the first people in the door that day, though it wasn’t quiet for long, by the time our food arrived the restaurant was nicely busy.
We were seated at a nice table by an open window, with a clean highchair (with working straps and all) and space for the buggy right next to us. Kids menus and crayons were brought over promptly so Big S and Little D were occupied while we browsed the sizeable menu. We asked for the allergy menu and explained our many allergies, and rather than bring us a large folder with pages of spreadsheets to plough through, the chef took a menu and circled the items that could be made without our allergens for us. This made it so much quicker and easier to decide what to order, normally I’m sat leafing through an allergy folder while wrangling Little D and it can take an age to cross reference everything and work out what meals me and Big S can eat.
Luckily two of the dishes I’d been idly considering while we waited were suitable, so it was an easy decision for me. Big S chose from the kids menu, which offered a good range of options and was easily adaptable to his allergy requirements. We ordered tortilla chips and guac to nibble while we chose, then ordered more because Big S is a tortilla and guac monster and snarfed the lot! Even Little D got in on the tortilla chips (though I think she enjoyed crunching them more than eating them, given how much got spat out instead of swallowed!) Rob chose his and we ordered a side dish as well, because, well, it sounded really good!
The drinks menu had some rather good sounding mocktails, so I had a virgin mojito and Rob a virgin bloody mary. The mojito was perfect, lots of crushed ice and really fragrant fresh mint, super refreshing! The bloody mary was apparently really unusual (it had pomegranate in it!) but really good.
The food started arriving quite quickly, and as forewarned by our server, it came in dribs and drabs, but all of it was with us within five minutes of the first dish arriving. It was absolutely delicious and the presentation was amazing; so many wonderful colours!
Big S absolutely loved his chicken taco, piling the fillings into the soft tortilla himself with a look of absolute glee! The fried sweet potato side we ordered ended up in his tacos too. Little D spurned food and decided what she most wanted was mummy and a nap, but if she hadn’t been so tired I think she would have happily eaten up some of the chicken from Big S’s taco for him!
I ordered two dishes; corn, black bean and guacamole tostadas (minus the feta cheese you’d normally get with them) and a dish from the “bigger food” section; pastor marinated grilled chicken, which came with green rice, salad, spicy pickled onions and grilled pineapple. The tostadas were absolutely fabulous, perfectly crisp and loaded high with toppings. The pastor marinated chicken was delicious, spicier than I’d expected, but it was incredibly moist and tender chicken, with flavoursome rice and the pickled onions were brilliantly crisp and tangy. I’m not normally a fan of pineapple, but it went absolutely perfectly with the chicken and really added to the dish. However, the sweet potato side we’d ordered was actually my favourite dish; it was crispy and slightly burnt around the edge in places, making the caramelised corners both sweet and sticky. The spices were fabulous and it had been liberally dusted with salt, making it ever so moreish. I could have just eaten a big bowl of that to be honest!
Rob ordered plaintain tacos and black bean and cheese quesidillas. The plaintain tacos were amazing, I’d not tried plantain before and it was quite delicious; banana like, but not banana, more savoury and intense. Big S was sold as soon as Rob described it as being like toasted banana! Obviously I couldn’t try his tacos, but Rob assures me that they were delicious!
It was a fabulous spread of food, we came away stuffed to the gills (Rob and I couldn’t manage dinner, several hours later) and it cost under £50 for us all, including our mocktails. Best of all, it really felt like a treat; the range of food we got for our money, the number of dishes and the wonderful presentation, plus the attentive, friendly service from our waitress, it felt like a proper blow out treat, not a reasonably priced lunch on a busy Saturday in town. We’ll definitely be heading there again!