Tom Flint: Attentive staff but hit and miss food

The seafood risotto that Tom says lacked refinement
The seafood risotto that Tom says lacked refinement

Having just enjoyed a glorious bank holiday weekend, Brighton’s appeal as a tourist destination is plain to see.

People flock to experience the culture, atmosphere and attractions. The biggest pull has to be the glorious beach and seafront, and much has changed recently to increase its appeal.

The griddled chicken main that disappointed Tom

The griddled chicken main that disappointed Tom

One of the most noticeable additions has been the British Airways i360. It has been with us for just over a year and opinion remains mixed. The same can also be said of the restaurant on-site, something its team are hoping to address following a recent re-brand and refurbishment.

Formerly the Belle Vue, it is now West Beach Bar and Kitchen. Several different areas have been created within the large and open space. Having been shown to our tables we surveyed our surroundings. This is not an intimate family-run bistro, but there is a lively atmosphere geared towards large groups and families. We were neither, and while it wasn’t unpleasant, there was not much going for it either.

Given its location you would think the view would be the highlight; unfortunately, the windows in the restaurant area had been covered with curtains.

The menu is fairly standard with plenty of family-friendly options. It appears to be geared towards a casual lunchtime or café style rather than an evening restaurant.

The 'K-pop' squid dish that Tom says was 'crispy', 'tender' and 'well-seasoned'

The 'K-pop' squid dish that Tom says was 'crispy', 'tender' and 'well-seasoned'

We went for the Sussex chowder and ‘K-pop’ squid to start followed by griddled chicken and a special of seafood risotto. The chowder was really satisfying – deep with fishy flavours and a creamy broth that sat nicely inside a sourdough cob. The crispy squid were equally good. The light crisp coating bore no trace of greasiness and the squid were tender and well-seasoned.

The hotly anticipated mains instantly disappointed. The griddled chicken was dry and tough, and the requested sweet potato fries were cold and lifeless. The risotto was also not right. The rice had no texture and there was far too much cheese mixed through. Most of the seafood had been arranged around the outside in some sort of childish attempt at presentation. This meant that it did little to flavour the rice and didn’t deliver that simple comfort risotto should.

On the recommendation of the waitress we shared a crème brûlée to end. Thankfully this was up to the standard of the starters. My only criticism was that there was much more brûlée than crème given the dish it was served in, but it tasted good.

West Beach Bar and Kitchen 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, but there were some positives