You may already be familiar with the Perch – they’ve been running their café-bar on Lancing Beach since 2015 and more recently in Princes Park in Eastbourne. Their third venue opened last April at the end of Worthing Pier and has rapidly become a go-to for relaxed eating and drinking.
I visited in December and Worthing wasn’t looking its best. It was cold, grey and windy on the seafront with a lot of venues looking like they’d shuttered up for the winter. So after battling the best the English Channel could throw at us, it was a relief to arrive at the welcoming rainbow doorway to the restaurant.
Inside the venue has a genuine wow-factor. A generously spacious central area is bordered by a vast open kitchen to the left and an equally expansive bar to the right. The main dining area is at the end of the room although tables also run the length of the windows which helps to create a very bright and airy atmosphere. Further seating is on the first floor mezzanine, including some comfy plush velvet sofas and chairs where I suspect you could spend a few hours gazing out to sea with a cocktail or two in hand.
In a sympathetic nod to the mid-20th century, the palette and furniture has a retro feel with functional tables and chairs, muted primary colours and potted palms liberally scattered around the room – although on closer inspection these turned out to be artificial.
We were guided immediately to our table by one of the many servers – they certainly aren’t short of staff here but I suspect there must be at least 250 covers spread over the venue so they’d need plenty of bodies. Drinks were promptly ordered from the cocktail list with a decent range priced from £8-10, although a little disappointing to see a lack of local producers on the menu. Thankfully my mother could get her favourite Brighton Gin and tonic but that was pretty much the extent of Sussex liquid options.
The design of the food menu design is a little busy for my liking – I didn’t really know where to look. At lunchtime there’s definitely a relaxed café style vibe with a choice of burgers, hearty fish dishes and steaks all priced around the £15 mark. The evening menu is somewhat more extensive and provides a clearer starter, main and dessert structure. Both menus offer a decent choice of vegan dishes and staff are knowledgable about dietaries.
Rather than take one of the mains – there’s only so much one can write about fish and chips –, I thought I’d explore the ‘Feel Great Greens’ build-your-own plate. There’s a choice of four proteins, four salads and three sauces, all of which sounded rather enticing. I decided on the steak chimichuri on the extremely healthy poke salad plate with beet ketchup.
The steak was charred and beautifully tender with a tongue-tingling spicy sauce. The salad was a thing of beauty with so many elements fighting for attention: avocado, beetroot, quinoa and pickled vegetables galore. The portion was just right for lunch leaving me sated and also feeling rather virtuous.
My dad reported that the fish and chips were decent, although the mushy pea smear was a bit weird as it looked like someone had already taken a bite. But I take it as a sign of great cooking that he ate all the batter on the fish.
Unfortunately there was no time for dessert – we had a wine fair to get to – but there was a choice of four including seaside favourites mini donuts and knickerbocker glory.
I’ve no doubt that in the warmer months you’d need to book ahead as the Perch on the Pier is definitely going to be popular. It’s the best looking venue in Worthing and gives the somewhat more sophisticated hospitality offering of neighbouring Brighton a run for its money when it comes to style and price. Opening hours seem to be a bit short for my liking – Monday to Wednesday 9am-4pm and running until 9pm the rest of the week – but I’m pretty sure they know their market well enough.
The Perch on the Pier is undoubtedly a successful eatery and popular with both Worthing locals and visitors alike. I’ll definitely be back in the Spring when the wind has died down a bit.
The Perch on the Pier, Worthing Pier, Marine Parade, Worthing BN11 3PX
01903 867 480 • www.perchonthepier.com