In honour of National Vegetarian Week, I thought it was fitting to write a post about Iydea, one of Brighton’s most popular vegetarian cafés. Iydea has won a number of accolades including the Brighton and Hove Foodie Award and the Vegetarian Society Award. I love the food here and needless to say, it is one of my favourite places to go to for lunch or an informal early dinner. On the menu is an eclectic mix of homemade vegetarian and vegan food with a number of gluten free options – there is no style or cuisine and you’ll find lasagne on the menu next to quiche and the Indonesian inspired gado gado (meat free versions of course!). Iydea is also licenced and have vegetarian friendly wine and beer on the drinks list.
Iydea is in the North Laines – there was another branch on Western Road towards Hove but this has closed and been replaced with a sister vegetarian restaurant called Rootcandi (I’m yet to visit but it looks good). The food is served canteen style – choose your meal from the counter, pay, and take your plate to one of the tables (or takeaway). You get to choose a main meal, two side dishes and two toppings. The menu changes daily and I have seen a wide range of main meals on offer including oyster mushroom and tarragon arancini, leek and cheese pie, vegetable crumble, goats cheese and pesto gnocchi bake, Jambalaya roti and Nepalese tofu curry. The side dishes are a selection of salad and vegetables and the toppings include salad dressings, mixed seeds and humous. The result is a generous plate of wholesome and tasty food! You don’t have to be vegetarian to enjoy this food and many of my carnivorous friends will very willingly go to Iydea. And is this meal deal expensive? No – at time of writing, it will cost up to £8 to eat in, takeaway prices are cheaper.
I have tried a few combinations at Iydea and I can’t say that I have a favourite, although I will always have tzatziki as one of my toppings. Here’s a photo of one my combinations featuring sweet potato, courgette and aubergine pesto lasagne, side dishes of cabbage with chilli and shredded carrot salad and topped with tomato salsa and tzatziki – this did taste as good as it sounds although the plate looks a bit messy 😉
Iydea also serves breakfast until 11.30 and homemade cakes – the cakes are often vegan and are beautifully presented. Who can resist a raspberry and chocolate cake? It goes without saying that they are environmentally friendly, for example, using biodegradable packaging for their takeaway food.
Iydea is very popular and peak lunchtimes are busy – if you’re eating in, you may struggle to get a seat and will probably have to share a table. It can get cramped inside the cafe and there will be a queue at the counter – it can feel chaotic. However, for me, their inventive take on vegetarian food is hard to beat and I’m looking forward to my next visit!
17 Kensington Gardens
East Sussex. BN1 4AL
Tel: +44 (0)1273 667 992
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 09.30 – 17.30 (lunch served from 11.30)
Typical cost per person excluding drinks: Up to £8 for lunch