CrabShack in Worthing: Restaurant review
PUBLISHED: 09:39 29 August 2017
It's been reeling in positive reviews since opening in June 2015. Jenny Mark-Bell took the bait and visited Worthing's CrabShack to see what all the fuss was about
Given that Sussex has more than 80 miles of coastline, it is perhaps a surprise that we don’t have more seafood shacks. Sure, there are plenty of fish restaurants but they mostly pitch themselves at the fine dining crowd. On first moving to Brighton I was shocked by the poor quality of the fish and chips available on the beach – as far as I’m concerned the seagulls are welcome to them.
Littlehampton’s East Beach Café dominates where casual coastal dining is concerned. And it looks as though the smaller resort towns are leading the charge: since it opened in June 2015 Worthing’s family-run CrabShack has been getting rave reviews from locals (Tripadvisor awards it five stars while The Spectator’s Jonathan Ray hailed the fish stew the best he’d ever had).
On a sunny summer’s evening the restaurant is doing a roaring trade, with most of the outdoor tables full. The charming staff seem to know many of the customers so clearly there’s a lot of repeat trade. Worthing’s seafront is sadly underrated and The Crab Shack has a stately backdrop of grand white Victorian buildings facing the beach. The outside terrace is all sun-bleached wood communal tables: joint-owner Sarah Tinker-Taylor, who most recently set up and ran Jamie’s Italian in Brighton, tells me that they are currently refurbishing the next door unit to allow them to serve more covers in the winter. There’s a cocktail list including some made with Blackdown Gin as well as the usual drinks options.
The menu is concise, changing according to the catch of the day. They are spot-on regarding provenance and sustainability, sourcing their fish from BNFS Fish Supplies at Hove Lagoon – their fish and seafood is mostly local but scallops, clams and cockles, for example, are from Poole Harbour.
The menu isn’t split into starters and mains but to begin we opt for a pint of Atlantic prawns (very fresh, served with lemon mayonnaise) and popcorn shrimp and cockles (light of batter and dusted with smoked paprika). Both are reasonably priced at around the £7 mark.
There’s a good selection of mains – including that fish stew, which does sound delicious, and an enormous sharing platter for £40 which includes old-fashioned prawn cocktail and Springs’ smoked salmon. Carl opts for posh fish and chips (£16.50), which comprises a hefty chunk of delicious cod with a black olive crust perched atop a lemon and mint pea puree and accompanied by some very good skinny chips.
We could scarcely visit without trying something crabby, and my crab cakes (£13.50) are excellent – no bulking out with potato, they are utterly crustacean and the better for it – served with lemon mayonnaise, a fresh, chunky salsa and more chips.
There are a couple of negatives: I would have preferred a finger bowl with my prawns rather than the packaged wipes on offer, and my canned soft drink was unrefrigerated. But this place is proudly unpretentious and great at what it does: fresh produce executed simply but well. For fun, casual coastal dining CrabShack is quite a catch.
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