Ah the British seaside. Who needs to hop on a plane to the Côte d’Azur when you can have a stay-cation on our own dear coast (weather permitting, of course). One of the best things about the counties of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall is the restaurants, with fresh fish being the highlight you’d hope in those picturesque port towns and villages.
If you’re planning to holiday at home this summer then here’s our handy guide on places to eat seafood in the South West…
From fish market to up market…
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Port Isaac, Cornwall
“Another chapter in the epic tale of this master chef’s rise to greatness!” – the move to a “light and airy” new location (formerly The Edge, RIP) in a super-cute fishing village (“with fantastic views over the Cornish coast”) has taken Nathan Outlaw’s flagship venture to a new level. Service is “the most considerate ever”, and the “magical”food features “subtle, visually beautiful ensembles with stunning sauces, imaginative use of the freshest of ingredients, starring perfect fish and seafood, with supporting casts of local and seasonal produce”.
Hotel Tresanton, St Mawes, Cornwall
A view “looking over St Mawes and out to sea is the perfect setting” for Olga Polizzi’s upscale bayside hotel, which profits from a glorious terrace in summer; the food, based on “fresh local produce”, is somewhat secondary, but fans say it too is “wonderful”.
Cornish coastal hideaway…
Wheel House, Falmouth, Cornwall
Hidden down a small side street, this “tiny”, “fun”outfit, with open kitchen, serves “the freshest seafood you could imagine” and offers “remarkable value” too; limited opening hours.
As I was going to St Ives…
Porthgwidden Beach Café, St Ives, Cornwall
“Classic posh beach shack by the most wonderful child-friendly beach”, where the culinary highlight, somewhat unsurprisingly, is fine fish and seafood.
Porthminster Café, St Ives, Cornwall
“What could be better than dining a few yards from the sea?” – all agree that “a beach café doesn’t come any better” than this “perfectly located” spot, with its “lovely and helpful” staff. Many reporters would say that goes for the “fun and intriguing” food too, although the odd reporter feels the “ambitious fare doesn’t always come off”.
Doing the Honky Tonk in Dartmouth…
“Splendid” fish and seafood, “cooked with skill and empathy”, generate huge enthusiasm for Mitch Tonk’s “small, closely packed dining room, opening directly onto the seafront”; it helps that its style is “lovely and friendly” too.
Mitch Tonks’s “very buzzy” riverside venture, now with a Plymouth sibling, offers “fish ’n’ chips to die for” (and at “reasonable” prices too) from a “wonderful selection” of options. (Also in Plymouth and Brixham).
Shacking up in Devon
The Oyster Shack, Bigbury-on-Sea, Devon
“Don’t expect creature comforts” at this well-known shack, with its plastic tables and chairs… do expect “great fresh seafood” (including “fantastic lobsters”) that’s “definitely worth the trek” across mud flats.
“Go hungry” when you visit this family-run beachside shack, which serves “the best seafood for miles around”, and has “a fantastic setting on Teignmouth’s back beach”. “Don’t just think about rocking up – it’s so difficult to get a table, but worth it if you do!” (“Hopefully the new terrace will end the nightmare of having to book so far in advance.”)
No ‘Fawlty Towers’ here…
No. 7 Fish Bistro, Torquay, Devon
A “deservedly popular restaurant” with an “emphasis on fresh seafood, perfectly cooked” – “proof that simplicity can be enticing and delicious”; “I’ve eaten here for 15+ years and never been disappointed – always book in advance”.
“In a harbourside setting”, this well-regarded, relaxed spot offers a “tasty and imaginative” menu making “much use of local produce” – particularly fish – and with well-selected wine.
After a day at the beach…
WestBeach, Bournemouth, Dorset
A “beautiful restaurant right on the seafront by the pier”, combining “lovely” sea views and “excellent, well-executed” food (especially the fishy kind).
Hive Beach Café, Bridport, Dorset
“Basic, canteen-style service belies the quality of the food” at this “dog and kid-friendly” haunt – “a perfect place to eat al fresco on a sunny day” (but “busy, even on a rainy day” – “be prepared to queue”). On the menu, “the freshest of seafood” – “it’s essentially a glorified picnic with five-star fish!”
Handy harbour hangouts…
Guildhall Tavern, Poole, Dorset
“A little gem tucked away from the grotty quayside joints” that elicits raves for its “individual, lovely” French food (especially fish) and “friendly”ambience; “prices have increased recently and they do tend to pack ’em in, but it’s still always a treat to visit”.
“With a very picturesque setting, in the middle of the river estuary in West Bay (TV’s ‘Broadchurch’)”, Arthur Watson’s “informal, timbered restaurant”provides “the most delightful blend of warm and friendly service, with simple ingredients cooked superbly well” – “translucently fresh fish”, much of it “caught in the harbour that morning”.
A “stunning location overlooking Sandbanks and Poole Harbour” is the main asset of this minimal venue, but the fish and seafood are “excellent” too.
Keeping it casual…
Crab House Café, Weymouth, Dorset
“Gloriously fresh fish and seafood” (some of it from the owner’s own boat) is what this “no frills”but “welcoming” village gem is all about – “the wonderful crabs, aprons and hammers make for a relaxed if noisy atmosphere”, and the result is “real value for money”.“Go on a sunny day and sit in the wonderful garden overlooking the oyster beds”.
Chez Fred, Bournemouth, Dorset
Fred Capel’s upmarket but “affordable” fixture still offers “the best fish ’n’ chips in Bournemouth”, with fish as “fresh and tasty as you could wish”, and “the chips and mushy peas are up to the mark as well”! “Get there early to avoid the queues (out the door)!”
ODE-dining & café-ODE, Shaldon, Devon
“An intimate restaurant located in a beautiful village” combining “unfussy” service and a “high standard of cooking with an emphasis on local, sustainable produce”; it has a café sibling (with sea views) too.
The Jetty, Christchurch, Dorset
“The beautiful view of Christchurch harbour” is the crown jewel feature of Alex Aitken’s “thriving”favourite, but most reporters feel “the restaurant lives up to its location”, with “fabulous and fresh fish and seafood”. The biggest niggles? – “London prices” and “inadequate parking”.
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