Hearing that the West Beach Bar and Kitchen (formerly the Belle Vue) at the i360, is boasting a brand new look, an extended 120-plus seat outdoor terrace and a fresh summer sharing menu showcasing the best locally produced ingredients, the Absolute team took some time out of our busy schedules to check it out one warm summer evening. This is what we found…
Although it was a warm and pleasant evening, by the time we arrived some ominous looking clouds were gathering so we opted to sit inside. We were graciously greeted by our waiter Georgie and shown to our seats by a large south-facing window with a fantastic view of the west pier. We took a minute to take in and appreciate the new look and feel to the place, which by all accounts was quite drab before the refurbishment. This is no longer the case. Spacious and airy, it is decorated with contemporary pastel hues, with an eclectic mix of furniture of all shapes and sizes surrounding a central, slightly set-back bar. Beautiful eye-catching artwork adorns the walls, including a wonderful picture of the i360 which was painted by a total of three hundred and sixty local artists, and a bright-neon piece inspired by the famous West Pier starling murmerations. The huge bay windows offer a fantastic view of the surrounding area including the West Pier pillar sculpture and the promenade. Whether you choose to sit inside or out, this place is obviously great for people watching and taking in the buzzing seafront atmosphere.
Cute tiny loaves of bread and generous dollops of delectable gentlemen’s relish were placed on the table while we chose our drinks. A nice select list of wines, beers, soft drinks, and cocktails to choose from made it easy to decide while we tucked in to the fishy treat. The ladies decided to share a bottle of prosecco and the gents went for pints of draught Pilsner. The cocktail menu was enticing with original creations such as the ‘BA i360 Sling’ and ‘West Beach Cooler’ catching our eyes. We were sure to try some out later in the evening.
The menu had a strong focus on locally sourced produce and even had a map on the front showing where the ingredients were from, which I thought was a nice touch. The main menu catered for a wide range of tastes and dietary requirements, with an innovative selection of small plate dishes, adventurous sounding burgers and sandwiches, and large plate sharers, as well as a selection of special dishes for the evening menu. Georgie seemed keen to show off the new summer special sharers so we selected a couple of dishes from this, a ‘seafood drift board’ from the large plates on the main menu, and their signature skin-on seasoned ‘dirty fries’ and ‘Sea Slaw’ on the side.
First to arrive was the ‘Taste of our Summer Terrace Kilner’ which consisted of two jam-packed jars of pork rillettes with tangy cider chutney in one, and a beetroot humus in the other and served with a selection of warm breads. We greedily tucked in to Kilner’s. The pork, incredibly moreish with a clean fresh grounded taste, was beautifully complimented by the flavourful zesty chutney. The tangy beetroot Humus was a hit too, and quickly devoured.
The rest of the dishes came out next, and it was soon apparent we might have over-ordered. Though everything looked and smelt delicious and we soon made short work of it all. The seafood drift board, served in a faux-newspaper lined wooden crate was jam-packed with a selection of crispy bread-crumbed whitebait, cod goujons, an enormous pile of thinly-sliced freshly smoked salmon, and a bowl of moules mariniere served separately with a selection of breads to soak up the sauce. The “Duck Duck Go” from the new summer menu was a hit; finely carved smoked duck breast, tangy glazed fig relish, creamy Berkswell Ewes Cheese, crunchy and peppery rocket, all sandwiched in an enormous white bloomer with the distinct flavours all working in harmony with each other making every mouthful an adventure.
On to the sides. The fries, which came with an ‘extremely addictive’ warning were just that. They were crunchy and flavoursome with an interesting sweet curry spiced coating. The Sea-slaw was also a pleasant addition, made with seaweed giving it a salty taste which went well with the seafood.
The obviously Brighton-inspired dessert menu looked incredibly tempting and well thought-out, with enticing additions such as ‘Brighton Glory Sunday’ and ‘Summer Lovin’ Fruit Terrine’. We opted to share a melting Jaffa pudding whilst enjoying a round of espresso martinis. The dessert was an absolute delight! Pouring a jug of chocolate lava on the cake and seeing it melt was a lot of fun and it cut through the tanginess of the orange to create an incredibly well-rounded and deliciously sweet dish. The espresso martinis were perfect too! I am fussy when it comes to drinking these, as I often find in places they are either made too sweet, or too sour for my taste. West Beach make them with fresh coffee to give it a light and fluffy foam, Tia Maria which is not as sweet as Kalua, and add a shot of Amaretto almond liquor to set it off with a nutty aftertaste. We all agreed they were the best we have tasted.
A lovely evening was had. I cannot think of a better place in Brighton to relax with a group of friends and enjoy sharing great food and drinks in the best beach location on the seafront. Whether you are a visitor to Brighton or live locally, we thoroughly recommend giving the West Beach Bar and Kitchen a visit.