But should you navigate your way into the building, follow an unpromising corridor and climb some steep stairs, you will come out into a bright, spacious room with fantastic views.
But can the food live up to the surroundings?
The brasserie is surprisingly large, and it’s popular with parents as there feels plenty of space for children and it doesn’t get too noisy.
At the weekends it’s a popular nightspot for those who feel a little old for Pier Pressure, so maybe Bethan and I will do a review of the evening food and music sometime.
It also offers the best value pizza deal for miles.
They make their own dough, cook it the Neapolitan way (stone-baked) and the creative toppings are very tasty.
We think Baravin (http://aberfoodblog.com/baravin/) shades them on quality, but when you realise a Baravin pizza is £12, and the Pier offers two pizzas and a bottle of good wine for £22.50, it’s hard to know what to do (Hmm, we need to review Pier pizzas too.)
The brasserie offers an evening menu, which is slightly fancier and slightly pricier – lamb shank (£13), hoisin duck (£17), sirloin (£18).
But we’re the Ladies Who Lunch, so we were on the daytime menu.
Bethan’s nephews (birthday treat) were excited by the sound of an 8oz burger (“Sounds like grown-up food” – in a good way)
But they were a little frightened of “smoked bacon”, “Monterey Jack cheese” and “caramelized red onion chutney” (“Sounds like grown-up food” – in a bad way).
These fears vanished once they started eating.
The bacon and cheese really added to the aroma, and brought out the beefy flavour.
I had a bite and it was surprisingly lean.
The brioche bun was a nice touch, and they waxed lyrical about the flavour for some time (“11 out of 10”, “Best burger ever”, “This place is great”, etc)
The chips were superb too – proper deep-fried chip shop fare when so many places do them in the oven.
So that was the kids happy – what about the adults?
And I’m sad to say, we were less knocked-out.
The daytime menu is a little boring, in two main sections of “Favourites” and “Best Sellers” (surely “Best Sellers” are “Favourites”?)
Cottage Pie, Beef Lasagne and curry are usually “Favourites” with the kitchen as they’re nice and easy to microwave. There wasn’t a great deal for the adventurous diner.
But my interest was piqued by the “Tex Mex Platter” (not sure how this differs from “Fajitas”)
This should come to the table sizzling (as it says on the menu), but it was silent.
That was OK – sizzling fajitas are only essential if you’re on a slightly dull first date – because the chicken, peppers and mushrooms were well-seasoned and there was plenty of them
I would have preferred four smaller tortillas, as when fully-loaded, the Pier’s fajitas are huge and tricky to eat.
Salsa was pleasingly hot, the cooling sour cream was welcome, and by my second tortilla my mouth was warming up nicely.
It wasn’t the best fajitas I’ve ever had, but I enjoyed them, it was a change, and good value at £8.
I don’t think Bethan was as satisfied with her “Famous” battered fish.
Like the boys, she loved the chips, and it looked the business with a mighty piece of fish.
But the batter wasn’t cooked sufficiently and lacked that crucial crisp lightness, while the fish was – gasp – ‘mushy’. Oh dear.
I wonder if my fajitas were ready early and the fish had to go before it was quite done?
Once we’d eaten that lot, we were certainly all pretty full.
But the nephews wouldn’t hear of missing dessert as I had told them of the “Rocky Road Cheesecake”.
Although no longer on the menu, Rhys thought the replacement, “Rocky Road Chocolate Brownie”, sounded even better.
This was the best dessert, and it is very impressive.
It had crunch and it had soft marshmallows; it had the bitterness of the chocolate balanced with the sweetness of the brownie.
The vanilla ice cream, while not top notch, was a pleasant counterpoint.
Bethan & I decided to share a dessert, and the Chocolate Fudge Cake seemed to call our names.
And maybe we’re a bit jaded, but it was only all right.
Not terribly choccy, and lacking in the sophistication and visual appeal of Rhys’ Rocky Road.
So the adults felt a bit ho-hum, but the kids were delighted.
And since it was their birthday treat, that’s the important thing.
One thing that often only gets mentioned when it goes badly is the service, but the Brasserie staff show how it should be done.
The manager, Emanuel, always seems to be there and is always friendly and charming – he’s particularly good with the kids.
And he doesn’t seem to mind that everyone thinks he’s French, when in fact he is all of Aber’s Maltese community.
The other waitresses were efficient and friendly too, and the kitchen had the food out in just the right amount of time.
No one hurries you and you feel a welcome guest.
A bill of £50 for four full, happy people seemed quite fair.
As we drove past McDonalds on the way home Rhys called out “The Pier does better burgers than you!” and the part of me that reads the Guardian was pleased somehow.
We’ll be going back, probably in the summer when the terrace right at the end of the pier is open.
If you’ve never been to the brasserie, I urge you to give it a go.
But I would recommend that, to get the best bang per buck, you should stick to the pizza special or Sunday lunch, although my nephews would disagree.
The Pier Brasserie
The Royal Pier Marine Terrace
Aberystwyth SY23 2AZ
01970 636123 http://www.royalpier.co.uk/brasserie-restaurant/restaurants-aberystwyth