Midway between the tourist hotspots of West Wittering beach and Selsey Bill, there’s a delicious secret in Bracklesham Bay that the locals would probably like to keep to themselves.
But with Sunday Telegraph columnist Erin Baker recently declaring Billy’s on the Beach “the best beach cafe in the world”, their secret is well and truly out.
At first glance, it’s hard to imagine that the blue and white striped cafe started life as an ice cream kiosk. The interior is just as welcoming, with its driftwood wall art and Princess Flying Boat soaring in the rafters. On entering, don’t be surprised if you’re greeted like an old friend by Brett or Minty and their front of house team. The warm and affable service is just one of the features that sets Billy’s apart from other casual dining spots.
But it’s the varied menu of everything from classic full English breakfasts to seafood platters that marks out Billy’s as being far from your typical beachside diner. All dishes are freshly made to order, using ingredients sourced as locally as possible from a triumvirate of East Wittering suppliers: fishmonger Something Fishy, greengrocer Munneries and family butcher AS Wallace.
Among seaside favourites like beer-battered haddock, calamari and whitebait, there are burritos, sandwiches and burgers customisable with a choice of scrumptious toppings. Portions are generous and well-priced for the quality – most mains are priced between £10 and £13, and many dishes can be made smaller for those after a light bite.
The children’s menu is where Billy’s really shows its fun side, with kid-friendly dishes given amusing monikers that appeal to the child in all of us – particularly the ice cream sundaes. Double Doggy Doo Delight or Shark Attack, anyone?
Its location on the seafront naturally makes Billy’s a popular destination in the summer, but there are plenty who would tell you that it’s even better in the off-season. Every Thursday from September to June, the Locals Night draws foodies from near and far to enjoy a two- or three-course menu of seasonal specials with a slightly elevated edge over the regular offering.
Dishes vary depending on what’s looking good at the butcher, fishmonger and greengrocer, but can include anything from roasted pork belly to fresh mackerel – and at just £12 for two courses or £15 for three, it offers exceptional value for money.
On Fridays, from 5pm, the recently introduced Seaside Specials offer a choice of Billy’s Fish and Chips or a bowl of fresh Moules Frites with a glass of wine or a pint of local ale for £10.95.
And it’s worth booking well in advance for head chef Richard’s themed tasting menus, too: recent events have included Japanese, Brazilian and Shipwrecked nights. The next is due to be announced very soon.
All in all, Billy’s on the Beach is a secret that the locals are finding increasingly hard to keep!