The Seashell Restaurant and Grill has now closed. It was succeeded by the Bay Grill. Appley beach is beautiful, with wide stretches of pale...

The Seashell Restaurant and Grill has now closed. It was succeeded by the Bay Grill.

Appley beach is beautiful, with wide stretches of pale sands, shoreside trees and wooded parkland. From the outside the Seashell Restaurant and Grill doesn’t do justice to its unique surroundings. It looks like a council house, but this is far from the case inside. The restaurant, located above a typical seaside cafe, is clean and newly appointed with wooden furniture, nice drapes and the hint of a nautical theme – avoiding the usual cluttered melee of nauticalia which overwhelms some waterside eateries.

Matt and The Cat chose their table carefully. The outstanding feature of this venue is the view – arguably the best view across the Solent from an Island restaurant. Watching the setting sun glint off the towers of Portsmouth, they enjoyed seeing container vessels glide amongst the historic seaforts, saw walkers cavorting on the beach, and even appreciated the notoriously overbudget lightshow of the Spinnaker Tower, all from the comfort of the Seashell’s elevated viewing windows. And in the summer there is even a balcony for truly venturesome diners.

There were no specials available when Matt and The Cat visited on a quiet evening, but plenty to choose from the evening menu, with a particular emphasis on seafood. The menu was encouragingly short, and had some unusual and interesting dishes on it. The waitress was efficient but slightly distant, and could not be drawn into the usual interrogative chit-chat that your reviewers like to practice. She did get all of a tizzy when asked to explain the rather cryptic vegetable options, and had to rush off to ask the chef at one point. Once this confusion was sorted out the orders were placed. Whilst waiting for their meal, Matt and Cat were offered bread with out-of-date butter. The waitress said “Mmm.” when shown the offending butter packet, which was perhaps not the ideal response.

The main courses arrived. Matt enjoyed a delicious beef strogonoff; very creamy with generous amounts of good-quality meat and an accompanying side salad. The portion was huge, and piping hot. A good glass of house red made the whole thing slip down very well.

The Cat’s experience was less satisfactory; her menu choice was chicken pie and it turned out to be a good job that the difficulties with vegetables had been resolved, as when ordering the chicken pie you just get well… a chicken pie – no potatoes, veg or salad. Thankfully the negotiated carrots arrived and an unexpected bowl of boiled potatoes. Had the Cat not enquired about these, the meal could have been rather stark. The chicken pie was a bowl of generous pieces of chicken, bacon (Bacon? That wasn’t on the menu), onions and mushrooms. Oh, and to prove it was a pie there was a tiny puff-pastry lid perched on this creamy meatfest. The pie was nice, but Cat got bored with it very quickly. Matt’s stroganoff was better.

So, the verdict? The Seashell Restaurant and Grill is in a spectacular location with panoramic views across the Solent. It’s one of those places that you can get the best view from inside, when you don’t have to look at the place. The service was not discourteous, but perhaps a little distracted. The menu was excellent, with reasonable prices and very good quality ingredients in generous portions. Some more support for the spectacularly rich and solid main dishes would have made a difference.

Matt and Cat are keen to give it another go, perhaps to try the light lunch menu. Watch this space…

The Seashell Restaurant and Grill has now closed. It was succeeded by the Bay Grill.