Cin Cin has established itself as one of Brighton’s best restaurants, delivering authentic, high-end Italian dining led by quality ingredients, intelligent cooking and real-deal Italian hospitality. They’ve perfected the sort of effortless “nothing’s too much” style that it’s hard not to love.
Cin Cin Goes Veggie
We started with a pesto focaccia and panelle with truffled ricotta and pickled balsamic onion. It was a marvellous start. Topped with generous amounts of pesto and whole pine kernels, the focaccia was soft and chewy and tasted of good olive oil. The soft panelle held up the whipped and truffled ricotta with the sharpness of the balsamic red onion providing keen, lip-smacking contrast.
For my main I chose the Saffron Strozzapreti Pasta with lentil bolognese and rosemary crumb. Strazzapretti means strangled priest (no priests were harmed in the making of this pasta) and its curly shape stores up sauce like a straw.
The pasta was al dente and the lentils cooked just a little firmer than that – in other words – perfect. They provided texture and bite against the creamy-sweet tomato sauce. The rosemary crumb was an excellent alternative to Parmesan and, for me, much preferable to a vegan cheese substitute.
My plus one chose the Gnocchi with Leeks and Peppercorn Sauce. The fresh gnocchi was melt-in-the-mouth good and the leek and peppercorn sauce was buttery, fresh and light.
Sides and desserts
We shared a radicchio salad with winter citrus wedges shining like jewels amid the pink and green leaves. Peppery, tangy, sharp and crisp, with Cin Cin’s signature house dressing, this side would go with anything on the menu and has the extra benefit of acting as a palate cleanser, preparing you afresh for your next delicious mouthful.
We also shared a side of potato fritti with red salsa. This was a little Jenga(™) stack of potato briquettes, each made of crunchy layers of thinly sliced potato served with a velvety red salsa.
To finish, I had the pistachio semifreddo served on a base of vanilla shortbread and topped with Campari soaked blood orange. Green dehydrated pistachios and the vermillion citrus wedges made this dish sparkle, but that faded in comparison to the sweet-creamy flavour and contrasting texture of soft semifreddo and crumbly shortbread.
My veggie partner went for a trio of Italian cheeses, accompanied by pickled grapes, damson chutney and homemade pane carasau (music paper) in place of crackers.
Allow me to indulge in a little personal history…
Many years ago I was a guest at a very Italian wedding in Abruzzo, Southern Italy. When the meal (which lasted from 6pm until past midnight) began, the maître d’ came to our table and asked who was the vegan among the party. Sheepishly I raised my hand and he pointed to my empty plate and said, “here is your meal!”
Oh, how we laughed…
What followed was one of the most exquisite wedding breakfasts I’ve ever had. There was no way I, or anyone else, was leaving that table less than 100% satisfied and 300% full. If they were going to ‘do vegan’ they were going to do it well.
Real food, not fad food
Cin Cin’s January menu really shines. The dishes sing of the chefs’ love of real ingredients and a whole-hearted commitment to doing a thing exceptionally well. The team has worked incredibly hard to deliver plant-based dishes that represent the kind of food you’d expect at Cin Cin, without resorting to gimmicks. This isn’t a menu for people who aren’t eating meat, this is a menu for everyone who loves Italian food.