Please note that since this feature was written, A Place on the Beach has been taken under new ownership and renamed The Gallivant.
A restaurant that welcomes children, offers great food for adults and is set right across the road from one of Britain’s most gorgeous beach sounds too good to be true, but it exists, just a few steps from vast Camber Sands near Eye in East Sussex in the South-East.
Camber Sands is very unspoilt, with no food kiosks and just a single shop/café at the entrance we used. But while I do love a nice unspoilt beach, I also like a good restaurant, and that’s why The Place at the Beach was such a great find. The icing on the cake is that it is also a hotel with a number of large family Studio Rooms for up to 5.
It wasn’t only the location that was appealing. The hotel and restaurant (we ate in the Brasserie, but there’s also an outdoor terrace, with a BBQ in summer) had a very pleasant, laid-back ambience and was so beautifully lit, it felt as if we were in LA (until it began to rain, of course). Best of all, the kids were greeted with genuine smiles and there was a selection of games and books for them, as well as a choice of DVDs. The number of families eating there (as well as people without kids) suggested that we weren’t the only ones happy with our choice. I have a feeling it’s the kind of place that locals return to again and again.
The Place’s new chef, Austin, is very keen on using local ingredients, including excellent fish, and with the exception of an uninspired and meringue-free Eton Mess, everything we ordered was delicious. That went for the kids’ meals too – the menus did have the usual staples such as fish and chips, pasta and sausages, but the actual dishes were of a very high quality, tasty and fresh.
My only quibble was that that there weren’t that many options for vegetarians like ourselves, and that the food took ages to come (thank heavens for the books and games). A bit more speed and observation on the part of the young waiting staff would be great. It is worth mentioning, however, that since our visit, The Place has new owners who have promised improvements, including the creation of a family sitting room, new kids’ menus and even a free high tea, which all sounds very promising. Let’s just hope that, in their haste to make changes, they don’t get rid of what is already so appealing.