Worthing: Dinner at Bayside Social

By one of those happy coincidences, after booking my trip to Worthing, I noticed a restaurant review by Jay Rayner in the Observer in January in which he wrote enthusiastically about Bayside Social. Located on Beach Parade, Rayner describes it thus: ‘The coast in winter can be bracing. But Bayside Social in Worthing proves to be a glorious refuge.’ Well, I had to book a table, didn’t I!

Bayside Social is another Kenny Tutt restaurant, but a more casual eatery than his Pitch Restaurant where I ate last night. As the name suggests, it sits right on the seafront with great views across the bay. It’s an all-day dining place with a takeaway – The Hatch – too. Open from 9am to 10pm every day and 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, you can breakfast, lunch or dine there. Or simply pop in for a coffee, or in good weather take advantage of the large outdoor dining space and relax in one of their deckchairs with a cocktail.

It serves small plates, good for sharing, but if you’re eating alone as I was, then 2-3 plates works well too.

When I booked my short seaside break in Worthing, I had no idea that it had such a vibrant foodie scene – it was just a conveniently easy and quick drive from my home in West London. But my three days here has been a series of foodie delights and Bayside Social is without doubt a big star in my experience.

It’s a good idea to book at weekends to eat in the evening and I’d booked a table for 7pm. Everywhere I go, I receive a warm and friendly welcome and Bayside Social is no exception. I was shown to my table and quickly a menu and carafe of water came. I asked how many plates they recommended for one and was told two to three, but I could always order more as I went. I chose one fish and one vegetable plate plus some focaccia and thought I’d see how I went. As it turned out, they were generous portions and plenty for me.

I ordered a glass of Albariño wine (175ml, £9). Then my focaccia came, accompanied by a small bowl of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The focaccia, studded with olives and dried tomatoes, was really good (£3.50).

My fish dish was South coast hake, chorizo & white bean cassoulet (£8). It looked wonderful and tasted amazing. The hake – ‘south coast’ presumably meant it was local – can take the strong, spicy flavours of the chorizo which deeply flavoured the bean cassoulet. It was all perfectly cooked and simply fabulous.

My vegetable dish was Roasted squash, toasted hazelnut & chicory salad (£6). This was delicious too and a great accompaniment to the spicy fish dish. The bitterness and freshness of the chicory was complemented by the small sweet pieces of roasted squash. The crunch of hazelnuts and a lovely dressing finished off perfectly.

I took a look at the dessert menu and was very tempted by a chocolate and Seville orange marmalade fondant, but after the huge slice of carrot cake I had at teatime, I knew more rich sweetness would be a risky move. It was better to stick with the perfect satisfaction of my savoury plates. So I ordered just an espresso and asked for my bill, which was £31.13 including tip.

I was nicely full and deeply satisfied by what I’d eaten. As I left, dusk was turning into night and Bayside Social looked as welcoming as I’d experienced it in the failing light.

It was a lovely walk back along the seafront to my flat.

I’m so pleased I saw Jay Rayner’s review or I might have missed Bayside Social – and if you’re ever in Worthing, you really mustn’t miss it. It’s even worth a journey.

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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