“ Address: Fisherman's Quay / 63 - 65 Surrey Street / Littlehampton / West Sussex / BN17 5AW / England „
The Harbour Lights Cafe at Look & Sea is a great cafe located in Littlehampton, West Sussex and the café is the main focus of my review. The cafe is positioned along the River Arun and over looks the harbour area. It is a pleasant place to start or end a walk along the river and sea front. It is two minutes walk from the town centre and the train station. There is a car park very close by which charges 65p 1 hr, £1.35 2 hrs, £1.95 3 hrs, this car park gets busy quickly and during the summer season is often full.
* CAFE *
The cafe is airy, clean and modern which helps provide a pleasant atmosphere; it's also lovely on a warm day when some of the doors are open. Sometimes it can feel a little crowded as it does get very busy on a sunny day in or out of season in particular around lunch time.
Staff members are pleasant and polite. When you enter the cafe it's wise to find a table first as you'll need to give a table number when placing an order for food. Although the cafe is often busy so far we have always managed to find a table (and there have been a lot of so fars!!). Seating is available either inside or outside enjoying the patio area overlooking the river and moorings along the marina. It has an outside seating area which goes around two sides of the building, if you choose the section in front of the cafe you will find yourself sat close to a road leading to the car park and Life Boat station which maybe isn't quite so nice although it is interesting to watch boats and lifeboats going in and out this side also tends to be more windy and we prefer to sit the left side of the café which faces the river.
Opening times for the cafe are 9am to 5pm although out of season (i.e winter) it closes slightly earlier at 4.30pm.
It also apparently runs as an evening bistro although despite living very close by we've never managed to find it open in the evening. I'm presuming that the bistro is open occasionally out of season but is open more regularly during the summer season.
* FOOD *
When you go to the counter you are met with a very appetizing array of pastries and cakes if these don't tempt you I'm sure something from the menu will!! Food orders are freshly prepared and will be brought directly to your table from the kitchen. If it's just drinks and perhaps a little treat in the shape of a cake that you'd like these will be handed to you on a tray to carry over to your table.
Here is where I have to admit that we are in fact creatures of habit when it comes to eating here. We have some favourite dishes that are so good we tend to eat those every time with the odd except of course.
When we enter the restaurant we find a table (often outside when the weather is nice), then place our order at the counter. On the whole the staff members are friendly and polite. There is one person who very rarely cracks a smile although we have witnessed it but they are never rude and always serve us in a polite manner.
Our food normally arrives within 10 to 15 minutes, understandably if it's busy it takes a little longer but when this has happened we have been advised of this and the person serving our food has apologised, even then it's not a horrendously lengthy wait.
Here are the meals we normally order and can highly rate:
French Toast with maple syrup and bacon £3.95 - This meal comes served on a rectangle plate. There are 4 triangle shaped pieces of golden french toast (2 full slices halved). In between the triangles are 3 pieces of bacon and this isn't your cheap watery type bacon but tasty thick bacon tinged with colour. The french bread and bacon are generous covered in maple syrup. I'm never convinced that there will be enough bacon and maple syrup to go round but I'm always pleasantly surprised and always full. I highly recommend this dish, whenever my husband is tempting me to go over to the cafe for a bite to eat he always gets me when he starts to talk about the french toast.
Harbour Eggs Benedict £4.75 - When I'm looking for a filling breakfast and my sweet tooth is asleep I opt for this satisfying savory option. Generous slices of honey roast ham are served on toasted ciabatta with 2 poached eggs covered in hollandaise sauce. The dish is attractively presented and definitely fulfills my expectations of a great eggs benedict.
Sussex Smokie £4.75 (light bite) - Now when you are first presented with this dish you may think as we did and most people we convince to try it do how will this possibly fill me up. The Sussex Smokie is served in a small ramekin dish with toasted ciabatta (one ciabatta roll cut into two) and salad. The smokie's ingredients are smoked haddock and prawns in a cheese sauce (not a thick sauce) and the top of the dish is covered in grilled slightly golden cheese. By the time you are half way through your light bite you realise that it is going to fill you up and you will have just about enough ciabatta to dip into the cheesy fishy gorgeousness. One thing to bear in mind with this dish is that it can be quite salty so if you don't like salty dishes I would recommend you avoid this dish.
* MENU *
The menu is split into several sections as follows:
Breakfast (served until 12 noon daily) Prices start at 80p for Toast and Marmalade and go up to £6.75 for a Harbour full english. As I previously mentioned my absolute favourite is Fench Toast with bacon and maple syrup at £3.95 which is so so yummy.
Sandwiches (come served in white or seaded brown bread, a lightly dressed salad and crisps) Range from £4.50 for mature cheddar and tomato to £5.95 for Fresh local crab filling (when available).
Jacket Potatoes (served with a lightly dressed salad) Prices start at £4.95 for Mature Cheddar Cheese & Tomato Relish and go up to £6.50 for Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese. There are the standard fillings you'd expect to see with Jacket tates along with fillings such as Mixed Beans and Goats Cheese (£5.75) and Sweet Chilli Chicken (£5.75).
Paninis (or for those in the know Paninos :) - Italian style baguette grilled and served hot with lightly dressed salad and crisps.) All paninis are £4.95 and you can add chips as an extra for £1.00. Filing options range from the standard offerings such as Home Baked Roast Ham and Tomato to Shaved Pastrami, Gherkin and Mustard.
Gourmet Burgers (6oz beef burgers made from British beef and served in a floured bap with crisp salad leaves, mayo and also come with chips and a mixed salad). There are two prices for burgers either £7.50 such as the veggie burger (made from lentils, carrot, courgettes, mushrooms, gruyere cheese and nuts) or £7.95 like the Cheese & Bacon burger.
Starters or light bites (one of my most frequently ordered sections after breakfast). Prices range from £3.95 for Soup of the Day (with a roll and butter) to £4.95 for Duck Rolls (three delicious oriental duck savouries in filo pastry on mixed leaves with a warm plum sauce). Our all time favourite is Sussex Smokie at £4.75 as previously mentioned.
Dressed Salads and platters - Salads available include Roasted Chicken and Bacon Caesar Salad at £6.75 to the more expensive Fresh Local Crab Salad (subject to availability) at £10.95.
Main meals - Most of the main meals are priced at £6.95 with the exception of a few which are priced up to £7.95. There are 12 main meals on the menu which has the typical fare you would expect such as Fish & Chips, Ham and Egg, Whitby Scampi it also sells meals such as the very tasty Thai Fishcakes and Seafood Florentine. The cafe also offers a traditional Sunday lunch for £7.95 from 12 noon every Sunday.
Vegetarian options are available across the menu a few examples of which are Spinach and Goats cheese bruschettas, Veggie Burger, Wild Mushroom Risotto and Tomato, Mozzarella and Pesto Paninis and a vegetarian full breakfast option.
Side dishes can also be ordered, salad, cheesy chips, garlic bread, a selection of vegetables etc.
There is also a selection of kids meals (for under 12's only). These range from Jacket Potato with cheese and salad for £3.50 to Lasagne, Chips and salad for £4.75 with the usual suspects in between such as sausages and mash, beef burger and chips etc priced at £3.75.
Desserts (very important section!!)
There is a daily dessert blackboard adjacent to the counter that shows the days desert selection. Desserts such as vanilla panacotta with poached pear, black cherry & cream pancakes, crumbe of the day, chocolate fudge cake are available, apologies if I'm making you feel hungry.
The cafe also sell specialty ice creams (delicious Movenpick ice cream from Switzerland made with fresh cream, fruit puree and fruit pieces with no artificial additives) and sorbets. Rum Raisin, Swiss Chocolate, Maple Walnut, Cappuccino, Vanilla Dream, Mandarin & Cranberry, Strawberry & Raspberry Sorbet. Prices are £2.95 for two scoops and £3.95 for three.
Harbour Lights sell a variety of beverages such as tea, filter coffee, cappuccinos, latte, espresso's and hot chocolate which if you are feeling decadent can be served with cream and a flake. I can't tell you how lovely it is to sit in the cafe drinking one of those hot chocolates after a bracing walk along the beach and there's no guilt after doing all that exercise!!
There is a selection of soft drinks available including a display fridge full of refreshing cold drinks such as fruit juices and Elderflower presse.
They also sell a range of wines and beers, all beers are served in 330 ml bottles except Carling which is draught and available as 1/2 or a full pint. For licensing reasons alcoholic beverages are only available when supplied with food. Wines can be purchased in the following measures 175ml, 250ml or by the bottle.
* OTHER FACILITIES *
* Littlehampton Visitor Centre:
To the right of the entrance is the Littlehampton Visitor Centre that has attractive and well presented displays and information about the area including pictures of the beach covered in snow and the river frozen over. There is also a small gift shop in this area with seaside type paraphernalia, postcards and children's 'pocket money priced' toys.
* Look & Sea Heritage Centre and Viewing Tower:
This is open from 10am. Entrance to this is paid for in the visitor centre and costs £1.50 per adult, £1.00 per child and children under 5 go in for free. If you have a holiday at home card (you are eligible for one if you live in the area) then you get a discount on entry and this also applies to any friends who are with you. Our daughter loves the viewing tower, which provides a magnificent 360 degree panorama view out towards the sea. There is also the Ship to Shore Gallery which should keep most people entertained for at least half an hour as you find out about the area, view information and pictures of ship wrecks nearby, play a pirate board game, and even have a go at navigating a boat through the river...remember to open the bridge!!
* Conference/Function Room:
There is a conference room that fits 60 people in and is available to hire at a reasonable price. If you require food this is provided by the café. I recently hired this room for our daughter's birthday party and can confirm it can accommodate 24 five year olds along with parents.
* SUMMARY *
This café is in a great location with convenient parking nearby. This is by far our favourite place to 'do lunch' or breakfast and we often end up here to treat ourselves with a hot chocolate after a walk along the beach and river with friends. The food is fresh, tastes very nice and is in my opinion reasonably priced. The cafe has an inviting feel and pleasant atmosphere and in our experience the staff members are polite. I would definitely recommend this café if you are visiting the area.
I know this is quite a long review but I hope all the information has been interesting and useful to you.
Look & Sea
63-65 Surrey Street
Telephone: 01903 718984
Enjoy overlooking the harbour while eating a hearty breakfast or a home cooked lunch.