Masterchef has showcased the wondrous world of delicate dining to the mainstream millions.
It seemed fitting, therefore, that our first foray into the world of higher-end cuisine was in the capable hands of Worthing’s own MasterChef Kenny Tutt, champion of the 2018 BBC cooking contest.
Reality TV often delivers precious little; the spark fizzles out for many a Love Island couple and X-Factor winners disappear, returning a year later when you really would have preferred them not to.
A year on from taking amateur cooking’s top title, Kenny has surfaced to open his debut restaurant, Pitch, and the venture – set in the heart of his home town – hits all the right notes.
Pitch has clearly been a labour of local love. Everything from the decor to the turbot and the specially brewed beers have been sourced locally. The menu detours to the Himalayas for a salty stop-off when it comes to the sumptuous steak main but Sussex staples are at the heart of Pitch’s offering.
But while surrounded with familiarity, our journey through the courses unlocks a new world of flavours and concepts.
Doughnuts of the savoury variety ooze cheddar and ham hock filling like a chicken kiev, only with more style, ably mopped up with mini loaves of brioche, a hint of thyme running through.
The starter is the first talking point of the menu, a curiosity sitting alongside the more mainstream dishes of chicken parfait and scallops.
Bookending the unusual doughnuts at the other end of the menu is a duo of desserts. The cereal milk panna cotta reminds you of the milky remnants of your morning cornflakes, yet appears in the setting of a superb sweet. It’s one of those classic MasterChef-style dishes, deceptively described in the most mundane terms on paper, yet the reality of the plate reveals a cleverly concocted classic.
But one of the highlights is the buttered toast ice cream. It’s not even the main component of the lemon tart dessert it stars in. It could easily be so.
On first taste it threatens to disappoint, masquerading as your Saturday night value vanilla. Then, the unmistakable flavour of browned, buttery bread kicks in and all is forgiven. You want a tub of it to take away. On the contrary, the tea meringue is a sugary sweet morsel, yet a hint of tea – builder’s, Earl Grey or otherwise – is harder to detect. No such issues with the tart itself, though, which is perfectly tangy without being bitter.
Our mains are less revolutionary but encapsulate everything Pitch appears to stand for – quality food, cooked well. We chose steak and turbot, with both dishes designed to put the main ingredients firmly in the spotlight.
Turbot often appears on shows like MasterChef. It’s the pricey flatfish which the professional chefs order the uninitiated amateurs to precisely cook in the middle of a manic lunch service, with the added pressure-free encouragement that wasting a fillet will plunge them into loss for the day.
Fortunately Kenny, or one of his able chefs, succeeds in our case, and the meaty yet subtle, seafood taste is not overpowered by the warm tartare sauce and crispy potato topping.
Likewise the steak is sensational. We hesitated over its ordering, wondering whether a more adventurous choice was wise in such a setting. The calibre of the meat, though, did not disappoint – thick, cooked exactly to order and not a flaccid, watery mushroom or pea in sight. Instead, crispy triple-cooked chips, super-soft onions and salad make it an enviable choice. A choice of sauce was not advertised, however, and might be a welcome addition for some.
Service has been identified as a teething problem in some early reviews, the vast majority of which have been overwhelmingly positive. In our case, Barry swiftly serves us and has all the answers when it comes to recommendations and making our visit special.
Our bill for two, three courses, a mocktail, Pitch Blonde beer, tea and 12.5% service, comes to just over £117. The three-figured bill is significantly above what we would normally spend, yet we leave with no sense of injustice.
Worthing is on the up, with its food map rapidly filling up with plenty of excellent eateries to choose from. Pitch sits at the top of the budget range but has more than enough about it to make it a huge success.
It’s not pretentious, over-fussy food. There are dishes, like the scallops, which pack plenty of panache, daintily arranged in a MasterChef final-worthy way. But you’re also unlikely to go hungry, with plenty of polished classics in generous helpings.
We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our evening and hope Worthing and beyond will come out to make Kenny’s debut one to remember.
This review is our independent opinion of Pitch, visited on Saturday, June 15. Our bill was paid for by us in full.