Selsey crab and much more

In a quiet spot in the West Sussex countryside, sits a little gem of a foodie country pub with rooms, which is, without doubt, worth seeking out.

The Crab & Lobster at Sidlesham on the Manhood Peninsular (yes really) nestles on the banks of Pagham Harbour Nature Reserve, and you can smell the salty sea air as you walk from your car to the inn, glancing down to the marshes at the end of the road.

More than three centuries old, the building and interiors are a careful blend of heritage tones and contemporary flair which make for an atmosphere which, although stylish, resonates with relaxed and cosy country pub charm.

The low ceiling and stone floors are complemented by rich fabrics and soft lights with candles casting a warm amber hue on oak which makes you take a deep breath and relax straight away.

The menu is, unsurprisingly with its name and location, focused on fish and shellfish – with the famour Selsey Crab a speciality of course. Our choices went the same way although there were plenty of options for the meat eater and vegetarian.

For our starters, we chose Selsey crab cakes with lemon herb aioli and avocado and watercress salad as well as seared scallops with sweetcorn puree, charred sweetcorn, Serrano crisps and tomato dressing.

Main course was turbot, salsa verde, crushed potato, tender stem broccoli, a Selsey crab velouté and fennel confit. The sea bass, always a favourite for me, was drenched in a clam and lobster butter.

Gooey peanut butter brownie, caramelised banana and banana ice cream was a delicious end to the meal but not a patch on the cheese plate. This came with quince jelly and some amazing wafer-thin biscuits which I was convinced were homemade fruitcake or malt loaf sliced and baked. As I sat down to write this I checked the menu for information on what exactly these were. Apparently, they were ‘Miller’s biscuits’ so not home made at all.

Admittedly a little disappointed, I decided I had to get over myself – these were just so great with the selection of British cheeses. Maybe they were the plum and date version or perhaps cranberry and raisin? I can’t decide so I’m going to buy both (it would seem Waitrose stock them.) I will be very disappointed if they don’t taste the same as they did that evening – although I’m a little worried that my judgement was clouded by the bottle of Australian Shiraz we’d shared by then!

If you fancy a coastal walk, a visit to a fish shack on the beach to buy dinner, and some quiet time spent over a light lunch in a pub garden, then this has to be your perfect spot.

There’s a set lunchtime menu as well as bar snacks which include the likes of; pork pie and sticky chutney; grilled halloumi, peppers, black olive skewers with harissa yoghurt; or an open wholemeal sandwich of Selsey crab and crayfish. Honestly, why wouldn’t you?

The pub has rooms which look lovely, some with views over the fields to the sea and there’s also the luxury self-catering Crab Cottage. All are part of the Mr and Mrs Smith collection – and are definitely on my ‘places to stay’ hitlist!

W: The Crab & Lobster

W: Mr and Mrs Smith The Crab & Lobster

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