The bottom floor of a vaporizer shop on Duke Street has turned into the UK’s first restaurant serving food infused with cannabidiol (CBD), a compound present in the marijuana plant, hemp, and evergreen trees. Given the global growth of the CBD industry and Brighton’s affinity for alternative medicine and all things plant-based, this should not come as a surprise.
Outlets across the Atlantic have served up all manner of CBD-infused foods and hot drinks for years. Some outlets, like Adriaen Block in Queens, New York, have moved into alcohol as well, serving up ‘stoney negronis’ and ‘rolled fashions.’ Thanks to Canna Kitchen, this trend has now come to the UK.
Yet Canna Kitchen is not just an easy capitalisation on what’s fashionable: the quality of cookery is superb. During our visit we had a brownie, where a simple description belied a well considered mix of flavours. Caramelised hazelnuts, an aromatic chocolate sauce and a generous heap of hemp vanilla ice cream adorn a decidedly enormous portion of this indulgent interpretation of a space cake. The brownie, like all the food on Canna Kitchen’s current menu, is completely vegan, though after tasting the ice cream you might not know it. We highly recommend trying hemp tea with added CBD oil. The herbal taste may be odd to the uninitiated, but the tea here is very well balanced — it is not overpoweringly earthy or bitter. This organic hemp tea is also sourced domestically from Hempen, a hemp farming cooperative based in Oxfordshire.
Their day menu is a rather adventurous take on vegan brunch fare, with notable highlights including Smoked and Cured, a vegan take on salmon and lox with carrots, hemp and buckwheat blinis topped with dill cream cheese made from coconut, cultured beetroot, pickled red onion and crispy capers.
Exposed filament bulbs and a beautiful array of plants lend a lovely ambiance to the space, which is equally fitting for a cafe as a restaurant.
In the evening the lights dim and a new menu is available Thursday through Saturday from 18:00 to 21:00. A ramen-style Miso Vital features shiitake mushrooms, seawood, rice noodles, molasses marinated tofu (or chickpea tofu for those intolerant to soy), a house-made sauerkraut , and CBD chili oil. and roasts are served on Sundays from 12:00 to 17:00. We are particularly excited to return to try the headline Canna Roast, a butternut squash, black lentil, hazelnut, and sun-dried tomato wellington with all the trimmings.
In addition to the restaurant-cum-cafe offering, the upper floor of Canna Kitchen houses the same dispensary that has occupied the premise for several years. Familiar strains such as lemon haze are on display, but of course these varietals are free of THC. In addition to CBD buds, the dispensary stocks a superb CBD tea, which has a very strong calming effect compared to other over the counter remedies such as chamomile and valerian root.
Notably, an NUS card will net you 10% off of all food, drink, and purchases at the dispensary.
In March, Canna Kitchen will host Chris Sayegh, American restaurateur known online as The Herbal Chef, for an evening of fine dining. Sayegh is credited with bringing gastronomic techniques to CBD-infused cooking, elevating these plant-based foods above sticky associations with munchies and late nights.