For many years, writing about restaurants here in Brighton and Hove and of course beyond, it was a mystery why so few places specialised in fish and seafood. In recent years the balance has been redressed, we now not only have some specialising in the harvest from the sea but also fish figures far more prominently on many restaurant’s menus.

Back in the mists of time I was advised that one of the best places to eat great seafood was a small restaurant in Shoreham, actually Shoreham Beach. So off we went, sceptical but hoping for the best. We were not disappointed.

Move forward some twenty years and a good friend, Mr B, called to suggest we meet for lunch. He had heard about this place on Shoreham Beach that served great fish. My memory engages and I start to wonder if it is the same place. It turns out that it is, under new ownership but in the same place, a rather unassuming parade of suburban shops close to the river, a bakery, a shop selling mobility scooters and an ice-cream place, more of that later.

Into The Blue is very much seaside themed, none of the cool design ethos of many modern eateries, but the place is spotless, smells great and for a weekday lunchtime is pretty soon buzzing and full. The staff are charming and the open kitchen is bustling with activity. The menu has a great selection of main dishes, plenty of daily offerings and lots of promise. We spend some time discussing the options, a Dover sole maybe, or lobster… But we finally agree that the selection of small plates on offer is the way to go.

Now the mention of small plates can strike fear in the heart, how often are we confronted by small plates that are small with a capital S, by which I mean tiny. Our waiter suggested that we would probably need five between us, both being BIG lads we erred on the side of caution and ordered more. She was however right.

So off we went. Mr B declared a liking for falafel, I think on average they are pretty dismal, dry and drab. I was wrong, these were delicious, served with great flatbread and a yoghurt dressing, a great start and a generous one too. We both love salt and pepper squid and fearing a small portion ordered two. I have seen smaller portions of squid presented as main courses in many places. It was excellent and came with a zingy dipping sauce. We both agreed that ordering two portions was not a mistake. Tempura prawns were good, nice big beasts with taut flesh and a crispy coating and another good dipping sauce.

Next a crab cake. Now crab cakes can be so so disappointing but what arrived was not only spectacularly tasty but also spectacularly presented. The cake itself was full of meat, both dark and white and a well balanced mix of sweet and musky. And there was no sense of it being padded out with anything. It sat atop a matched disc of watermelon, unexpected but actually a rather refreshing foil to the crab, and on top of that a nest of crispy threads, below a creamy but light sauce. It was more than impressive.

But if that was going to be the highlight of our lunch we were soon to be blown away by our final choice. I love octopus, when done right it is simply delicious, but so often it is really is done a culinary disservice. This one blew us both away, tender as could be, the right amount of charred edges to add to the tender sweet flesh and a variety of vibrant sauces dotted, not purely as decoration, but to add to the dish in decent quantity. How I hate those ineffectual dots and smears that defy making the journey from plate to palate. We shared amicably but both wishing that we had ordered two portions of this gem.

Our waiter had been right about how many dishes we would need so the plate of excellent chips was a dish too far, that said we did manage to put away a fair portion of them.

This was the sort of food and quality of cooking that one would hope to find at a top end restaurant on a tasting menu, but in trencherman portions. And when the bill arrived our food, we did not drink, came to under £35 each. I reckon the same menu in another place would have come in at double that and not with the same generosity.

You will have noticed that we did not go for a pudding but there was a plan. Mr B knew just how  good the ice-cream was just along the parade at Cotts and Linz. So full of fish I still found room for a scoop of rum and raisin and one of Black Forest whilst Mr B was more sensible with some frozen yoghurt. It was good, really very good and we sat on a bench overlooking the river and discussed our delicious lunch and how we would most definitely be back
29-31 Ferry Road, Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex BN43 5RA

01273 464 768

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