Having just enjoyed a glorious bank holiday weekend, Brighton’s appeal as a tourist destination is plain to see. People flock to the city to experience the culture, atmosphere and attractions that make Brighton such a wonderful city. The biggest pull has got to be the glorious beach and seafront, and much has changed recently to increase its appeal.
One of the most noticeable additions has been the “British Airways i360”. Love or loathe it, this attraction has become one of the most eye-catching additions to the skyline. It has been with us for just over a year, and opinion on the vertical pier remains mixed. The same can also be said of the restaurant on the same site; something they hope to address following a recent rebrand and refurbishment.
Formerly the Belle Vue, it is now The West Beach Bar and Kitchen. They have created several different areas within the large and open space, which has helped to address the former criticism of its soulless and cold feel, but not by much.
Having been shown to our tables by the gracious and attentive staff we surveyed our surroundings. You are not going to be able to escape the fact that this is not an intimate family run bistro, far from it, but there is a lively and buzzy atmosphere which is heavily geared towards large groups and families. We were neither, and whilst it wasn’t unpleasant, there was not much going for it either. Given the location you would think that the view would be the highlight, unfortunately we could not appreciate this as the windows had been covered with curtains in the restaurant area.
The menu is fairly standard with plenty of family friendly options. The choices are geared towards a casual lunch time or café style rather than an evening restaurant. Whilst not a major issue, perhaps it would be better if the restaurant could have a different menu that reflects its purpose. We went for the Sussex chowder and “K-pop” squid from the small plates to start followed by griddled chicken and a special of seafood risotto.
Things get off to a good start. The chowder is really satisfying, deep with fishy flavours and a creamy broth that sits nicely inside a sourdough cob. The crispy squid are equally good. The light crisp coating bears no trace of greasiness and the squid is impressively tender and well-seasoned. We are both rather pleased with our choices and look forward to the next course.
The hotly anticipated mains arrive, and instantly disappoint. The griddled chicken is dry and tough, tasting like it was cooked earlier and then reheated, and the sweet potato fries are cold and lifeless. The risotto is also not right. The rice has no texture and there is far too much cheese mixed through the risotto. Most of the seafood has been arranged around the outside in some sort of childish attempt at presentation. This means that it does little to flavour the dish and doesn’t deliver that simple comfort that risotto should.
On the recommendation of the waitress we share a crème brûlée to end the meal. Thankfully this is back up to the standard of the starters. My only criticism is that there is much more brûlée than crème, given the very shallow and wide dish it is served in, but it tastes good and we polish it off happily.
What can I say about The West Beach Bar and Kitchen. Well, it is an improvement on what was there. The prices are much more reasonable and it makes a better use of the space. Service was good and the staff were very attentive. The food was very hit and miss, the mains being especially poor, but there were some positives. I am sure that some people will be satisfied with eating here, it is very family friendly and tourists will probably end up here, but they are not going to be giving any of the city’s serious restaurants anything to worry about.
Lower Kings Road, Brighton BN1 2LN
0330 800 1360
I was invited to review the restaurant and the meal was complimentary, as always this did not affect the outcome of the review which is an honest opinion of the meal