My Favourites

My Favourites

Save your favourites with a single click and you’ll never forget a brilliant Muddy recommendation.

THINGS TO DO. ARTS. EAT. TRAVEL. FASHION. BEAUTY. KIDS. HOME

Get the inside line on what’s unique, special and new near you, straight to your inbox across 28 counties

Back to Eat

Review: The Wittering, West Wittering

A newbie with big ambitions - this stylish free house near West Sussex's most beautiful beach opened earlier this year and added rooms just last month - but what's the Muddy verdict?

THE LOCATION

Re-launched this year under new ownership – a team of two local families – this free house with rooms in the pretty coastal village of West Wittering has nailed the brief for destination pub.

National Trust/ John Miller

Beautifully presented, foodie-focused with an emphasis on local produce, it is also in a corker of a location – just a 10 minute walk from West Wittering blue-flag beach and Chichester Harbour, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

THE VIBE

The pub is split into two separate spaces that both feel bright, airy and inviting (Fido’s welcome too). There’s a large bar/ restaurant area to the right with chunky wood tables, banquette seating and log burners for the cooler months…

… then to the left there’s a cosier bar area with a more private space for larger groups at the rear. This also doubles up as a cinema room (the pub hosts ‘Wittering Wednesdays’ with movies and homemade cakes) and well as occasionally playing headline sports games.

This area (above) has more of a café feel, so if you’re visiting for dinner, I would score a table in the main restaurant – even mid-week it was buzzing with couples, groups of friends and beachgoers.

The new owners have been especially clever with the decor – both spaces have a distinct coastal feel, but they’re by no means kitsch. You won’t find gimmicky driftwood sculptures here – oh no! – but wooden floors, striking blue wainscoting, rattan bar stools, abstract ocean paintings and quirky prints exclusively from local artists peppering the walls.

It’s also impressive that hardly any of the furniture is new – furniture from the old pub has been thoughtfully re-used or up-cycled, from the tables in the restaurant and lampshades, to a leather Chesterfield hand-dyed from garish red to a chic mahogany to suit the new vibe.

The generous garden – an all-day sun trap – continues the coastal theme with sweet beach hut seating in slick pastel shades (these are prime pub garden real estate on summer weekends so make sure you book ahead!). The pub also hosts live music in the garden at the weekends (find updated info on Instagram), plus plans for pop-up street food alongside the main menu are in the works.

SCOFF & QUAFF

The kitchen is spearheaded by co-owner and Head Chef Doug (above) who spent 13 years as an executive chef in London on boats docked by Cleopatra’s Needle on the Thames, cooking for large-scale events for the likes of Chanel and Burberry before the pandemic hit… so it’s safe to say he knows his way around a kitchen.

The mantra here is ‘eat the seasons’ and the modern British menu ebbs and flows with what’s readily available and sustainable, with new dishes or variations on menu favourites coming out of the kitchen daily. Doug also champions provenance, using local producers where possible – many of which he connected with during lockdown, using his homemade sourdough bread as currency to swap for ingredients (some know him locally at The Bread Man!). His signature sourdough is not yet on the menu – but watch this space.

The pub currently serves lunch and dinner from Weds – Sun, but is open for drinks seven days a week – we snagged a table on Weds afternoon, stomachs rumbling after a morning at the beach.

First up, I shared the crushed pea, mint and ricotta bruschetta (£5) and smoky aubergine flatbread with pink onions and chopped herbs (£5) with my plus one from the Starters/Nibbles menu. Both were light and fresh (especially the peas, which were my favourite) and perfect for a warm day.

If you’re visiting in a group, or fancy something lighter, this menu is ideal for sharing – just order the lot and dig in! I also had my eye on the Midhurst asparagus with crispy Hallgate Farm hen’s egg and hollandaise – both Sussex suppliers – and the fennel and chilli sausage roll, so it was a shame there was only two of us!

For my main I chose pan-seared Rainbow Trout with garlic cannellini beans (the lobster filo tart with cajun fries caught my eye, but sadly it wasn’t on the menu on the day I visited due to local supply issues – bonus being – it’s super fresh when it is in stock!). The trout was cooked perfectly – meaty flesh and crispy skin – with the whole dish coming together like a kind of super-sized risotto, although without the heaviness that often comes with such dish (£20).

My plus one also opted for seafood (when by the beach…) with a brown crab risotto, torched mackerel, fennel and broad beans (£21.50) and raved about the earthy tones of the dish. Both were presented impeccably in big serving bowls and fresh sprigs of greenery.

Too full for dessert? Never! My plus one ‘ooh-ed’, ‘ahh-ed’ and devoured their white chocolate cookie dough with raspberry sorbet and toasted pistachios (£8.50) in about thirty seconds flat, whilst my baked custard tart with rhubarb, vanilla ice cream and local Runcton strawberries (£8.50) was creamy yet surprisingly light and a lovely way to end the meal.

To drink we were recommended a Turtle Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand which was light, crisp and a perfect partner for our fish dishes, although the cocktail list also looked delicious with a curated selection of Sussex-based gins. There’s also a small but perfectly formed children’s menu with meals from £5.

PILLOW TALK

The Wittering added three bedrooms with stylish ensuites and a two-bed apartment to its offering in June, all located above the pub via a separate entrance.

Each is individually designed and shot through with coastal touches, artwork from local creatives, and up-cycled wooden furniture in keeping with the theme of the downstairs areas.

We stayed in Rookwood (pictured), decorated in calming coastal blues, which had an exceptionally comfy kingsized bed, very welcome after a long day of swimming in the sea, sunbathing and scoffing (I know, it’s a hard life).

There’s no formal breakfast offering here (although a brunch service is in the works), however for an added cost you can receive freshly baked croissants from the local bakery with butter and jam delivered to your door – we enjoyed ours in the garden in the morning sunshine.

There are also plans to expand the accommodation offering in the future – so we’ll be back to check it out!

OUT & ABOUT

You can’t get much better in terms of location for a seaside staycation – The Wittering is a 10 minute walk from blue-flag West Wittering Beach and East Head National Trust site with its unspoilt sugar-white sands, balmy microclimate and charming beach huts. The calm waters, sheltered by the South Downs and Isle of Wight, also make the beach popular for paddleboarding, kite surfing, and windsurfing.

If you walk east along the beach footpath, you’ll reach East Wittering, a vibrant village that’s a bit bigger than its western sibling with lots of traditional independent shops as well as a pebble beach if that’s more your thing.

Also a 10 minute walk from The Wittering is Ella Nore spit, part of Chichester Harbour AONB, which is a protected wildlife site (look out for rare Little Tems nesting in the summer) as well as boasting stunning sunsets over the estuary.

Chichester – West Sussex’s only city – is around a 20 minute drive away with its impressive cathedral, and good mix of high street faves (Mint Velvet, The White Company, Jigsaw), plus Draper’s Yard is a great spot for quirky independents. The city is also home to its own Festival Theatre and independent New Park Cinema, plus the stunning West Dean Gardens and sweet Weald and Downland Living Museum (of The Repair Shop fame) are nearby.

THE MUDDY VERDICT

Good for: It’s hard to think of a punter who wouldn’t appreciate what The Wittering has to offer – it pulls off the clever balance of still feeling welcome to locals since its rebrand, as well as being a destination for day trippers, couples or beachgoers looking for something more elevated than beachside scampi and chips.

Not for: Whilst dogs are welcome in the restaurant and garden, Fido can’t stay overnight.

The damage: Starters/nibbles are £5-£9, mains are from £16 and desserts are all around £8.50. Rooms are from £80 per night or from £150 for the apartment.

The Wittering, Cakeham Road, West Wittering, West Sussex, PO20 8AD

Find more ideas here

EatLatest ArticlesPubs & Inns

Tell us what you think

Your email address will not be published.

* Required
* Required

Little Black Book

The Little Black Book

Our A-Z of the grooviest local businesses to help make your life easier

View the businesses
Reader Treats Just For You!