It’s a busy Saturday and we’re in a rush. But then so - it appears - are the thousands of other shoppers in Chichester city centre.
I need food, or lunch I should say, so I do what most tech-savvy people do and turn on TripAdvisor.
The array of choice is baffling, so after a few tense moments (I need to eat) we dive into the nearest place - the Real Eating Company , which ranks at a lowly 159 out of 175 restaurants in the Chichester area.
Never mind that, we’re prepared to give it a try. So, overlooking the mixed reviews, we grab a table, and we’re lucky as it’s one of the last in the place.
The Real Eating Company is a kind of up-market shabby-chic type place, which serves breakfasts and sandwiches, as well as baking its own pastries. The decor is a mix of wooden tables, artwork, a few comfy chairs and a large open counter.
It’s part of a small independent chain, which has cafes in Bournemouth, Horsham, Kingston, Lewes and Salisbury.
An army of young student-looking waiters and waitresses wearing black are working hard, trying to keep up with the demands of the busiest day of the week.
There’s lots of activity, clearing tables, washing up and creating coffees, and there’s a small queue at the counter, upon which is spread a variety of tasty-looking treats, including a savoury frittata and an abundance of croissants and cakes.
I opt for a ham and cheese toastie (£6.40) and my partner goes for a sausage sandwich (£3.95). I have a cox and bramley apple juice (£2.85) to wash it down, which is I’m delighted to see says it’s from a family-run apple farm close to the South Downs National Park. It’s delicious.
My partner goes for a gingerbread latte (£3.25), which the menu claims is ‘freshly-roasted to our own blend and specification, once a week, by a family-owned roaster.’ Wherever it’s roasted, and however it’s made, it’s a good coffee.
Despite the hubbub, we’re served swiftly, with filling lunches.
They are fresh and tasty – even if the ham and cheese toastie was a little disproportionately pricey compared to my partner’s sausage sandwich. I even find room for a tasty raspberry bakewell slice (£3.10).
Our total bill comes to £19.55, not too bad for a meal out in Chichester – and in my mind, it doesn’t warrant its low TripAdvisor rating.
Tel: (01243) 699838
(ratings out of 5)