CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Sussex Life today CLICK HERE

Rye's fish restaurant review, East Sussex - catch of the day?

PUBLISHED: 13:42 04 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:03 20 February 2013

Webbe's Fish Cafe

Webbe's Fish Cafe

Lulu Larkin finds the perfect place to start her 2008 healthy eating regime, Webbe's Fish Café in Rye: A fish restaurant where the salmon is just as she likes it - pinky and perky...

PLEASE don't get me wrong. I love a Christmas party as much as the next girl, but there are only so many prosciutto-stuffed olives and organic goat's cheese crostinis you can eat before you begin to challenge the bathroom scales and the number of calories in a BBQ Pringle (ten if you must know).Drastic action was called for. Apparently Dolly Parton maintains her hour-glass figure with a seafood diet. Well, what's good enough for the queen of country is good enough for me so I dragged my husband, Daniel, off the sofa and headed for Webbe's Fish Caf in Rye. This attractive, brick-fronted building, just a five-minute walk from the station, was originally a mill before housing the Dean's Rag Book Company in 1956.



It eventually fell into disrepair until four years ago when Paul Webbe, his reputation already well-established at the Wild Mushroom in Westfield, transformed it into one of the most successful fish restaurants in Sussex. Walking into Webbe's is a theatrical experience: flames leap up from the griddle of the open-plan kitchen while oysters are deftly shucked behind a tantalising display of spankingly fresh seafood: winkles, whelks, mussels, langoustines, lobsters and oh my goodness, did that crab just twitch its claw at me? Time to sit down and take in the show.



Unfortunately we were seated next to the kitchen and the disabled toilet and I needed to keep shuffling my chair forward until my arms were pinned against the table. I politely asked whether we could move. No, the best seats in the house were reserved for four - or Michael Winner? - none of whom, unsurprisingly, arrived.



The charming restaurant manager, Dryden Mitchell, snapped me out of these churlish thoughts with a large glass of excellent Chilean Huerta blanc (3.70), sparkling Hildon water for my husband and, thoughtfully, a jug of iced tap water. Now to the menu and what a splendid selection!



Tempted by the shellfish soup, prawn and linguini salad, squid risotto and mussels in Muscadet and leek liquor, my husband chose the salmon pea and potato cake with poached egg, red chard and crispy pancetta (5.75). Wow! I'd have been jealous had it not been for my own starter of ballotine of salmon with dill, caviar and crayfish salad (5.50). The salmon was pinky and perky, just as I like it, and the salad dressing delicate enough not to distract from the exquisite flavour and texture of the fish. For his main course, Daniel ordered the beer-batter-fried cod and chips with home-made tartare sauce with the plumpest capers ever while I had the monkfish linguini in a fluffy, creamy spinach and basil sauce.


Monkfish is often called the poor man's lobster but try it at Webbe's, where it is sweet, succulent and meltingly tender. Daniel declared his cod 'the best' and the batter 'deep and crisp and even' (his words, not mine). He even offered me a scrap and an anaemic-looking chip, but I have my dignity. The dessert menu at Webbe's is a tempting cornucopia of deliciousness but while Dolly whispered 'don't go there' into my ear, Daniel demolished a mountain of iced parfait with pineapple (5) smothered in rich, dark, chocolate sauce with all the enthusiasm of a praying mantis.



Our train wasn't due for half an hour, so we settled the bill (a very reasonable 55 excluding service) and lingered over an espresso and tea (1.50 including almond biscotti) promising to be back soon. Maybe for the Rye Scallop Festival in February? Perhaps Dolly could open it? One thing's for sure, she'd love Webbe's Fish Caf.



3 More...


Loch Fyne


Loch Fyne, North Street, Midhurst, West Sussex


01730 716280, www.lochfyne.com


Opened in June, Loch Fyne Midhurst is a magnet for Sussex fish foodies, including Billie Piper and Bryan Ferry. Fancy a traditional Scottish breakfast? LF is open every day of the year from 9am. Perhaps crab cakes for lunch, fillet of salmon served Japanese style or even one oyster at just 1.50? Have a glass of champagne on the terrace overlooking the beautiful Cowdray Park and enjoy a seafood platter with lobster. There are traditional fish 'n' chips every Tuesday (11) and a shop full of fishy goodies to go. John Prescott bought some kippers here for Pauline - how romantic!



Riddle and Finns Champagne & Oyster Bar


129 Church Road, Hove, East Sussex


01273 721667, www.riddleandfinns.co.uk


Gordon Ramsay hailed R&F in Brighton as the perfect fish restaurant - elegant, stylish with incredibly fresh seafood and impeccable service. Visitors to the newly-opened R&F in Hove will not be disappointed. This chic champagne and oyster bar offers more than its name suggests: crab & rocket linguini, roast monkfish, haddock fillet with poached egg and steamed langoustines feature on the menu alongside oysters with a variety of sauces. R&F offers 16 champagnes (35-220), an extensive wine list and imaginative cocktails. It's a wet fishmonger, too, and you can buy ready-made meals in eco-friendly boxes to take home. A great idea.



Due South


139 Kings Road Arches, Brighton, East Sussex


01273 821218, www.duesouth.co.uk


Underneath the arches on Brighton beach, among all the tatty gift shops, blaring amusement arcades and cheap clubs, Due South is a real find. It prides itself on championing local suppliers and showcasing fabulously fresh, seasonal - and often unusual fish - from sustainable sources. Try the wild mushroom on a toasted rowie (a kind of croissant) or local crab and Jerusalem artichoke soup. There are oysters, catches of the day and plenty of dishes, too, to satisfy the carnivore. Finish with an organic fair trade chocolate pudding with a home-made Douglas Fir ice cream. Yum!

0 comments

More from Food & Drink

Brighton’s The Chilli Pickle is celebrating its tenth anniversary. Co-founder Alun Sperring talks about his passions

Read more

The 2018 Celebration of Sussex Life Awards are fast approaching, with the ceremony taking place at The Grand Hotel, Brighton on 25 October. We’re delighted to announce our finalists…

Read more

Whether you’re looking for fine dining, pub food, a romantic meal for 2 or a taste of something from further afield, eating out in Sussex really has something for everyone. Here’s our guide to the best local restaurants and pubs

Read more

Cuckfield’s Ockenden Manor offers a spectacular panorama while you eat

Read more

Laura Paton has found a great restaurant off the beaten track in Sidlesham – but keep it under your hat

Read more

Treat yourself, family and friends to lunch and afternoon tea with a visit to one of these fantastic Sussex tea rooms

Read more

There are some fantastic restaurants and cafés in Eastbourne serving up delectable food and catering for all tastes. We round up some of the best…

Read more

The market own of Horsham is home to some delightful restaurants and pubs. We round up some of the best

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory


Property Search