For this month’s review, SBT’s Jess Saunders and Amy Watson took to Brighton to enjoy lunch with a twist; a flight on the British Airways i360 followed by a bite to eat at the West Beach Bar and Kitchen
It wasn’t too long ago that Sussex Business Times made a trip to Brighton’s seafront to review the Belle Vue restaurant following its opening in August 2016. One year on, much has changed at the sight of the British Airways i360 – the addition of the new, updated restaurant being at the core of this. Of course, we jumped at the chance to once again review Brighton’s most loved attraction and the restaurant that sits below – the West Beach Bar and Kitchen – following on from our pleasant experience last time around!
The British Airways i360 is the world’s tallest moving observation tower and is the latest project from Marks Barfield Architects, who are also the creators of the world-famous London Eye. The i360 pod glides gently up to 138m (450ft) as a fully enclosed observation pod, offering guests breathtaking 360-degree views of Brighton & Hove, the South Downs and the beautiful Sussex coastline. The pod is ten times the size of a London Eye capsule and carries up to 200 passengers. Flights depart every 30 minutes and guests can enjoy the unfolding views as they walk around freely and enjoy a drink at the included Nyetimber Sky Bar, which serves award winning English Sparkling wine and other drinks from the region.
Since opening, the British Airways i360 has won numerous prestigious awards for innovation and design and an exhibition of photography and film, “British Airways i360: How it was Built” is now open for visitors in the beach building, documenting the design and construction processes. Brighton & Hove is one of the most visited cities in South East England and what better way to spend an afternoon than with a flight and a glass of something refreshing on the city’s largest and most loved addition?
We arrived at the i360 site at around 1pm and the weather was beautiful – it was the perfect day for a trip up the attraction and we couldn’t have asked for a better setting. The queue to board the i360 was quite large, showing that one year on, the attraction is still one of the most sought-after for Brighton residents and visitors of the city. We were escorted on to the pod and over to the bar, where we were each served a refreshing glass of Rose Nyetimber Sparkling wine. Of course, before boarding the pod, each and every passenger is asked to go through a security bag check, which to some might seem a little bit extreme, but we personally appreciated the fact that the team of staff are so thorough and professional. One thing we noticed before our flight started was how the British Airways theme was consistent in all aspects. For example, each member of staff was dressed in British Airways uniform and tickets on to the pod came in the form of boarding passes to a plane. It was small elements like this that made the whole experience, for us anyway.
As the i360 flight took off we were able to walk around and enjoy views from above Brighton & Hove, witnessing the different areas of the city and staring in awe at the beautiful coastline into the distance. The flight as a whole isn’t particularly long – around 10 minutes in from start to finish, but of course there’s only so much you can see, so this seems perfectly acceptable. If you’re a lover of art then you’ll also appreciate the beautiful paintings that sit on top of buildings.
As we returned back to the real world, we were shown to the exhibition room, which documents in photographs and film the i360 planning and construction processes. This was a very interesting addition to the attraction and I think with something like this, many people forget the amount of preparation and insanely hard work that goes into creating it and ensuring it’s safe for the public. Following on from this, we were shown down to the restaurant area where we were welcomed by an incredibly friendly team of staff. A window table had been reserved for us, where we could sit comfortably and enjoy watching the world go by. One thing I love about dining in Brighton in particular is being in amongst all of the goings on, and being seated right on the seafront meant that we were right in amongst this.
West Beach Bar & Kitchen is the newest attraction to Brighton seafront’s i360 site, replacing the former Belle Vue restaurant, and the refit comes as British Airways i360 marks its first-year anniversary. The restaurant is now open, offering a fun and unique dining experience, which celebrates this vibrant city by the sea. West Beach Bar & Kitchen is a stylish all-day seafront venue, which is zoned into four distinct areas; a restaurant offering dishes inspired by Brighton, a lounge bar serving cocktails and other drinks, a café serving coffee, afternoon tea and cakes, and a secluded area for groups.
The interior is designed by the award-winning creators of British Airways i360, Marks Barfield Architects. Colourful local art adorns the walls thanks to a partnership with Gallery 40 in North Laine, and Brighton neon artist Andy Doig has created a bespoke piece for the lounge bar area inspired by the murmurating starlings above the old West Pier.
West Beach Bar & Kitchen is right on Brighton’s beach and offers one of the best views of the city’s much-loved West Pier. The new décor is inspired by the colours of the sea, beach, pier and sky. Timber tabletops are a nod to the timbers out on the beach while colourful upholstered seating adds softness and comfort. Many of the ingredients served in West Beach Bar & Kitchen are grown, reared or caught within sight of the viewing tower and the menu celebrates the distinctive character of Brighton & Hove – we could hardly wait to tuck in!
An incredibly friendly member of the front of house staff, who also provided us with a bottle of fresh water to accompany our meal, presented us with a drinks and starters menu. Being located in Eastbourne meant that driving to the i360 was the easiest option, and both being designated drivers meant that we had to opt for a non alcoholic beverage – cue the mocktails! I chose the Voguing Virgin Mojito; with angostura bitters, lime wedge, mint sprigs, soda water and sugar, while Amy opted for the St Clement; a combination of orange juice, bitter lemon and grenadine. Both arrived at our table promptly and looked even more appealing than we’d imagined. It was then that our food order was taken – I chose the local Sussex sausages with mustard mayo for my starter, while Amy chose the Aromatic Bombay popcorn with sweet & tangy mango chutney.
One thing we can say for sure is that if you’re planning on dining at the West Beach Bar and Kitchen, you won’t wait long. Our starters made an appearance very soon and tasted just as divine as they looked. My sausages were served on a wooden tray-come-platter with the mustard mayo on a large spoon – this was a great touch and it’s nice to see that being different from your traditional Brighton cuisine is something they’re aiming for. Both starting courses disappeared within minutes and the extremely attentive staff were sure to clear our table straight after.
For our mains we opted for The South Coast – locally caught white fish fingers, homemade tartar sauce and baby pea shoots on Bloomer Doorstop – with a side of sweet potato fries, and The West Beach Dirty Burger an angus beef burger – Sussex forester cheese, chorizo jam, crisp gem lettuce, tomatoes and dill relish – served with skinny fries and kimchi slaw. Although the bread to The South Coast sandwich came in hand with thick bread, the dish as a whole was very light and it was clear to us that the fish was of a very high quality. Meanwhile, the burger itself was huge – probably too big for a lunchtime bite although this was through no fault but my own. Regardless, it was delicious and was nicely accompanied by the slaw. Both the regular fries and the sweet potato fries were equally lovely; salted and perfectly crunchy.
After looking over at a number of the other tables, it would have been nice to try one of the West Beach Bar & Kitchen’s desserts, however after devouring two plentiful main courses, we just couldn’t fit it in!
All in all, our lunchtime bite at the West Beach Bar and Kitchen was among the best that Sussex Business Times has had the pleasure of attending and we left without a single complaint or criticism. Anyone looking to attend a unique but professional business meeting in the Brighton area really should take to the British Airways i360 – a relaxing flight on the pod followed by a delicious bite to eat or a drink in the sun is the perfect way to get to know clients and customers, and we couldn’t recommend it enough!
Lower Kings Road