- April 9, 2018
Few will doubt that there is a truth in the fact that I love to dine out. I love restaurants, cafes, bars and… well put simply, I like my food. Given that my writing here appears almost every week of the year that means a lot of eating out and I try to keep it varied and I try to be fair. If you have not seen me review a place then it can be for one of two reasons; 1, I have not managed to go there yet or 2, I have been and found nothing good to report. There was a time when I would lavish words on a venue’s interior. But I soon realised that on the occasions that I described the wallpaper it was usually because there was little good to say about the food.
From time to time I have received letters from people who, having read my review, have gone along only to be disappointed. There’s only one thing to say about this and that is simple; I reviewed my meal and not theirs. Personal taste plays a great part in this, what I like may not be what a reader likes. There’s nothing I can do about that, but trust me that I will always be as honest as possible. You will see that even in my rave reviews you might find that I found fault with something. ‘Picky’ you might say, but I do try to be fair.
So this week I want to be fair. About a year ago I wrote about Perch in Lancing and I loved it. It has to be one of the nicest beachfront places to eat for miles around with a wonderful view and a truly fantastic atmosphere, in part made by their open policy on dogs and kids. The place buzzes with good humour.
I returned with my good friend Mrs C, and in the car on the way she had already decided that she wanted to have their fish and chips. I have to say that I too was very tempted. On my last visit I had a kilo of mussels, still an option on the menu and from memory still the same price. I love mussels and balk when I am served a tiny saucer full of the sweet beasts. A kilo is about right, a marathon in food terms and one worth running.
Perch has a truly fantastic atmosphere. The place buzzes with good humour
But I digress, Mrs C was in fish-and-chips mood and her choice was justified by the excellent plate of food that came out – a large piece of fish in crisp and golden batter, a large portion of their oddly delicious scoop shaped chips and some mushy peas, as well as an enamel mug of tartare sauce. And on the side we both succumbed to the allure of their properly made onion rings – excellent.
Having checked online that they were open on a back holiday I had also perused the menu in depth. I so wish I hadn’t. I was drawn to a dish described as Vegas Gumbo.
I have been to Vegas and found nothing of real culinary importance save a good diner brekkie and a crab and lobster club sandwich. Beyond that it was all pretty grim – I should have been warned.
My gumbo arrived as described in a bowl, but beyond that the description was far from accurate. In fairness it tasted okay, it was edible yes – but it was uninspired.
Firstly it was a little too dry, more like a pilaff than a stew, and gumbo should have a soupiness surely, especially as it was served with some rather drab and very dry flatbread. But this is not my real gripe. The menu read that the dish included bacon bits, chicken and king prawns. Well I found the chicken, a few lean and meaty chunks, but as for the bacon – where there any, it was pretty well disguised in both a physical and flavour presence. And king prawns simply did not appear, okay there was a sprinkling of those cold and wet North Atlantic prawns that have no discernible flavour and had certainly not been present in the cooking of this dish. You can only imagine my disappointment and yes I did point this out to our charming waiter. In fact the service is impeccable.
I did love the salad and the dressing is deliciously sweet and sour.
So there you have it, a lovely time with a disappointing dish at the heart. I will return because I like the place a lot, and I hope that they either take this silly dish off the otherwise excellent menu or at least send it out with the promised ingredients.
28 Brighton Road, Lancing Beach BN15 8RA