I learnt something new on my recent visit to Dough Lover; a unique diner style café in Brighton’s North Laine. Speaking with visionary owner Ronke Arogundade, she told me the Word “restaurant” originates from the French verb “restaurer” and was first used in the 16th century to describe food that restores your health! Ronke passionately believes in these words, and not only aims to provide a delicious pleasurable dining experience, but also to make sure anyone who visits leaves feeling better than they did when they entered. As well as this, Dough Lover is inclusive to anyone, whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or suffer from food intolerances. I cannot claim to be any of these, (although I have been avoiding cow’s milk of late, due to my wife constantly telling me how cruel the dairy industry is). What I can claim however, is that I do appreciate a tasty hearty and nutritious meal, and the food here is fantastic. We definitely felt happy and fulfilled when we left. Here’s how our visit went.
As Dough Lover specialises in brunch with speciality in-house baked goods, we arrived early on a Wednesday afternoon, absolutely ravenous, having skipped breakfast in favour of some of the incredible sounding dishes from the menu we had loaded up on my phone en route. We had already pretty much decided on what we were going to have, and the thought of the home made corned beef hash, guacamole and egg was making my belly rumble in anticipation. Warmly greeted by a host of incredibly welcoming waiting staff, we were invited to choose a table and given a menu each. What we hadn’t banked on, was there are all sorts of daily specials and in our haste and hunger we had not noticed a whole host of delicious sounding dishes. Ignoring our bellies we took our time to make our mind up.
Our attentive waiter arrived with a jug of filtered water and asked if we would like a drink. The drinks menu consists of some exotic sounding sodas made in house with their own centrifuge machine, from filtered water, containing one tenth of the sugar content found in conventional sodas. A host of hot drinks are offered including teas sourced exclusively from small farms from around the globe, coffee which the waiter earnestly claimed is the best in Brighton, with carefully sourced beans around from some of the best estates and cooperatives around the world, and a fine selection of hot cordials, chocolates, and lattes all with the non-dairy options including their own Dough Lover nut-milk and non-dairy cream. The select wine list also looked tempting, however we decided to stick to Soda as we hadn’t yet eaten, with my dining companion selecting hibiscus cherry and mint, and myself choosing Purple Berry and fresh juniper. Both were as refreshing and flavoursome as they sound, and surprisingly sweet considering the lack of sugar.
When it came to choosing our mains, I had to ask for a recommendation from the waiter, as everything sounded so delicious. The incredibly well thought out menu consists of a huge range of options, all containing only the finest freshest organic ingredients, and with a vast amount of dishes to suit literally any dietary choices or intolerances which all sound equally as tempting. The menu simply has to be seen to be believed and Ronke’s passion for engineering and creating delicious and nourishing food really shines throughout. On recommendation I opted for one of their most popular dishes from their organic, free range and locally sourced “Eggs Dough Lover” section of the menu. I opted for Trealy Farm boudin noir, crispy bacon, kimchi, garlic chives and angel hair chilli and my companion plumped for one of their unfolded “House Omelettes,” flaked kippers, crème fresh, capers, brown butter, lemon and black pepper.
Enjoying our Soda’s and waiting in anticipation for our food to arrive, we distracted our now loudly grumbling stomachs by taking in our surroundings. It is immediately apparent that just as much thought, care and attention has gone into the décor as the menu. There is an underlying diner feel to the place but it is so much more warm and inviting than what you might expect. Teal diner style comfortable seating circles the room, with pristine marble tables and a contemporary chandelier casting a glow over the walls, which are a delicate mix of creams, browns and beiges with ornate patterns and some fantastic photography by Gerald Jenkins, an artist who Ronke admires. The attention to detail in the diner style is impressively apparent, down to even the piano key plaques under each piece. Looking up we realised we were sitting right next to a wall completely dedicated to local singer and songwriter Nick Cave, another or Ronke’s favourite artists!
It did not seem long before our food arrived and I was immediately struck at just at the simply beautiful presentation. Both plates of food were carefully crafted with enticing texture and colour that immediately reminded our stomachs of the need for nourishment. It seemed a shame to ruin it by tucking in, but tuck in we did, and greedily so, both agreeing that our meals were exceptional. My Eggs Dough Lover was such an exciting mix of flavours and textures. The pure earthy meaty flavour of creamy boudin noir (black pudding) and exceptional quality and perfectly crisp fried bacon entwined with the tangy kimchi, peppery rocket was a winner! With a base of what was quite obviously the freshest organic eggs, it was set off with a lovely bite from the chilli flakes. Each mouthful brought different exciting tastes and I could honestly go back and eat this time and time again and not get bored! From the noises coming from across the table I could tell that my dining companion was equally enamoured with his omelette. I sneaked a forkful of wonderfully creamy, perfectly cooked egg with a generous dollop of crème fraiche and flaky kipper and gave my companion a nod in agreement. This dish was obviously lovingly prepared and perfectly seasoned with the capers lemon and black pepper subtly bringing out the separate flavours, creating a remarkable and flawless dish which I am certain could win over the staunchest hater of this potently flavoured fish! Both plates came with Dough Lover home baked gluten free bread for mopping up, which tasted exquisite in itself, with a crunchy crust and doughy centre it was satisfying to eat too.
We had gone from being starving to completely stuffed, but decided we had just enough room to share a Dough Lover no added sugar Valhrona chocolate cake with our coffees. My wife will be pleased to know when she reads this that I opted for whipped coconut cream as an alternative to whipped dairy cream with the cake, and a latte made with Dough Lover signature nut milk, which was recommended to me by the waitress, assuring me the mix of cashew and tiger nuts actually tastes great with their house blend.
The waitress was not wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed my nut-milk latte and the cake was a perfect mix of rich and sweet. My companion, a coffee purest, took his coffee black, and said it was one of the best he had ever tasted.
We thoroughly recommend Dough Lover to absolutely everyone. You will feel completely at home here, no matter what your dietary requirement or food choice is, they happily cater for all. There is a huge choice of everyone to enjoy, and the quality, thought and skill going into each dish will amaze you. The menu is often tweaked and is seasonal, so we will definitely be back for more healthy, nourishing and delicious meals.