Lunch Review: West Beach Bar & Kitchen (formerly The Belle Vue) i360 restaurant
About a year ago The Belle Vue opened right by the rusty remains of Brighton’s West Pier. The restaurant didn’t quite work for a number of reasons, which you can read about my original review, so back in July it closed and reopened as West Beach Bar & Kitchen with a new look and new menu. I probably wouldn’t have ever gone back based on my first experience but after several emails from the team prompting me, my curiosity finally got the better of me.
An injection of colour
My first impression of West Beach was the décor is much improved. It no longer feels like a school canteen thanks to a much-needed injection of colour and some softer furnishings. The space is also now sectioned into four distinct areas – a restaurant offering dishes inspired by Brighton; a lounge bar serving cocktails and other tipples; a café offering coffee, afternoon tea and cakes; and a secluded area for groups. Where there were once bare walls, local artwork now jumps out and on the far back wall, in the lounge and bar area, there’s a piece of bespoke neon artwork, inspired by the murmurating starlings above the old West Pier.
Moving onto the food, that’s also improved somewhat too and had we stopped at the starters, I may have gone so far as to say I was impressed. But as we didn’t I can only be honest and say there’s still some work to go before you’ll find me saying it’s a must go.
Starters that impressed
We began with two starters to share, the K-POP salt + chilli squid with kimchi slaw – £5.50, and the burnt brisket ends in mother sauce – £6. The squid was perfectly done, not a hint of rubbery texture with well-balanced seasoning. The brisket was also good, tender, rich in flavour and slathered in a sweet and smokey barbecue-style sauce but cooked just a tad over, causing it to be a bit dry but tasty nonetheless.
All fur coat and no knickers
For our main course, the “beside the seaside” seafood bucket – £22, designed to share to between two was recommended. The dish came presented in a white metal bucket, which our friendly waitress, Yvonne, tipped the contents of onto a large enamel serving plate to tuck into. The let down came when I realised the contents of the bucket was all fur coat and no knickers. Mussels and cockles there were aplenty but with just two langoustines the seafood element felt a bit stingy. The creamy cider sauce lacked depth of flavour or zing leaving me feeling underwhelmed. It would have worked so much better with a Southern-style Cajun rub or, a stronger scrumpy cider that held its flavour better when it was cooked. Also inside the bucket were large white boiled (skin-off) potatoes, a garnish of samphire and chunks of corn on the cob, which mostly felt like an afterthought, added just to fill you up instead of working seamlessly as part of the dish.
An upset stomach on a plate
We were full enough for lunch by this point but for the benefit of the review, we ordered dessert too. I went for the melting jaffa pudding – £6.50 with orange syrup and melted chocolate lava. As someone who loves a chocolate dessert and Jaffa cakes I really expected to love it but sadly it was not to be. It was too sickly sweet and looked a little bit like the result of an upset stomach on a plate. My friend had the crème brûlée with burnt salted caramel – £6.50, which was better but again nothing standout and not a touch on the one I had in San Sebastian, which was light and creamy, with a dash of vanilla essence and a very crisp shell that broke into shards as your spoon cut through the top layer.Verdict
Rating: Must Go | Worth a Try | Give it a Miss
Price: £46.50 for 2 people (not including drinks)
The food clearly won’t compete with its new neighbour, Murmur, but what it has going for it is a gorgeous suntrap of a terrace, with a pretty seafront view and bags of space. So, with that in mind, it’s fair to say it’s a worthwhile to have on your radar for group dinners and parties. And, if you’re walking past the restaurant and feeling a bit peckish a selection of starters or a burger would be the way I’d go.
West Beach Bar & Kitchen
Lower Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2LN
*Disclosure: I was invited to review West Beach Bar & Kitchen but this does not have any bearing on my review, which will always be an honest account of the whole experience.