REVIEW: Crab and Lobster at Sidlesham is a real catch
A penny-farthing bicycle is propped casually against the side of the front entrance porch.
There is no clue to the owner from this single photograph, but the happy assumption is the rider has popped in for a quick pint of local ale and almost certainly some fresh Selsey crab for lunch.
You see, we may not know who. But we do know where.
Hanging outside the building is a large pub sign. An image of a giant crab sits above a similarly sized lobster.
This is Sidlesham and the famous Crab and Lobster restaurant and rooms nestling in Mill Lane on the banks of the Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve.
The black and white photograph of pub and bicycle hangs in pride of place just inside the doorway. When in the hostelry’s 350 year history it was taken is not immediately clear. But the bicycle suggests a fragment of Victorian life - that and the absence of cars.
Today, there is a new sign. Stylishly written to match the renovated interior. The faded whitewash of the building has given way to a tasteful palette of 21st century paint and decor.
Cars, tightly packed like dominoes, line the street - revealing not just the passage of time but the immense popularity of this remote pub even on a mid-week evening.
When we were invited to review, we checked out TripAdvisor first. Customers are never afraid of speaking their mind. 162 ‘excellents’ shows that the majority could not score more highly.
The comments beneath endorse the rating.
We had two other clues to the exceptional quality. We had lunched at the sister Halfway Bridge between Midhurst and Petworth a fortnight before and rejoiced in this gem.
A friend’s personal recommendation was confirmation.
True to its history, the Crab and Lobster has a menu and specials board loaded with the joys of the sea.
It’s not just crab. Nor lobster. Popular though they both are.
For mains we checked out the pan fried halibut with saffron crab and spring onion risotto (£24) from the specials board and the fish of the day (£19.75), sea trout, with herb new potatoes and seasonal greens.
They were good. But the starter of seared scallops and braised oxtail fritter was sublime (£13.75). The scallops were cooked to the second of perfection.
It’s not all about fish.
The roasted rump of lamb (£24.50) was a piece of culinary artistry. There are steaks too, ranging in price from £24.50-£29.50. We did not sample so cannot comment.
Clyde Hollett is the executive head chef and rejoices in an ingredients based kitchen. He doesn’t believe in overfrilling the plate - leaving the ingredients to speak for themselves.
Nonetheless, the plates are mini-masterpieces.
Of course, prices are at the top end.
The service was friendly but unassuming and gently paced. It left you in no rush to leave.
Mark Vincent is the assistant manager and has been there for ten years. He actually came to the area to semi-retire and do something different with his life after he sold his pub in Manchester.
Fortunately, he fell in love with the Crab and Lobster. So did we. Fishing apart, it’s a real catch.