Photo Credit: Mark Dring Photography (The Hidden Hut)
Delicious fresh seafood, lobsters to crack and oysters to shuck all with stunning sea views and a salty breeze. Here in the South West we're spoilt with the amazing choice of top seaside restaurants and cafes...we give you (in no particular order) Country Calling's Top Ten Places To Eat Near the Sea.
1.Hive Beach Café, Beach Road, Burton Bradstock, Dorset, 01308 897 070
We can’t shout out about this place enough. This great restaurant/café on the beach is one of our favourites, with the stunning Jurassic Coast and the crashing waves of the beach just a few steps away. Great local fresh fish, lobsters, hand dived scallops and even spider crabs from their own beach. Great awning covered outside area where you can almost feel the sea spray. The café also boasts a great ice cream parlour too serving Country Calling favourite, Lovingtons. The staff here are wonderful. The car park is National Trust and there are bracing walks in either direction along the coast. Open for breakfast and lunch and on Friday and Saturdays for dinner during the summer. But get there early as this place is hugely popular and was voted one of the world’s best 5 fish restaurants by Valentine Warner.
Photo Credit: Graham Wiffen
2.The Winking Prawn, North Sands, Salcombe, Devon, 01548 842 326
Top breakfasts here, as well as their renowned BBQs from 4.00 pm onwards. Good views with the North Sands beach just across the road and stunning Devon countryside behind. This has it all. Delicious and quite hands on breakfasts, where (if you like) you can make your own breakfast butty. Great cones of deep fried popcorn shrimps with sweet chilli dip and whole cracked crabs with garlic mayonnaise, plus buckets of prawns…Booking definitely advised although you can just turn up for their summer BBQs from 4.00 -8.30. Plus delicious Salcombe ice cream. Great children’s menu too and a fun dressing up box for the kids, plus sand pit.
3.Porthminster Café, St Ives, Cornwall, 01736 795 352
Right on the beach and looking across to Godrevy Point this is a stunning place to sit and eat. This award winning café specializes in Asian and Mediterranean seafood, with delicious Cornish crab linguine and salt and spice squid. It also does great fish and chips (take away if you like). After a huge blow out you can do some paddle boarding from the beach or walk around to one of our favourite beaches, Gwithian, for a spot of top surfing. If you want to hang out here all day you can also hire chalets here. With the amazing St Ives light this is a pretty special place.
4.Shell Bay Café, Ferry Road, Studland, 01929 450 363
Take the ferry across from Poole or drive past Corfe Castle to reach this knock out café. With wonderful views, overlooking Brownsea Island and just across the road from Shell Bay and the stunning Studland beaches (see our Top Ten Beaches). Consistently great with both a bistro which serves less formal food such as fish and chips and pints of prawns (all of which can be taken away or eaten in their garden) and a restaurant serving particularly delicious Poole Bay rock oysters and seafood platter. With what feels like its own private beach just below this is a pretty romantic little spot. Occasionally closed for weddings – so check before you visit. We can’t think of many better places to spend a day by the beach with a lunch or dinner time treat of sea fresh food. But be warned – this is only open from March to end of October.
5. Crab House Café, Ferryman’s Way, Portland Road, Wyke Regis, Dorset,
Recently reviewed by us on our Wemouth jaunt – this is a top unpretentious sea food restaurant at the start of Chesil Beach. With their own oyster beds and great crab and lobster to attack with your hammer – this is an all round good experience. Eat inside or out (under their beach vibe pink umbrellas). Worth remembering to try their dumplings for pudding if you still have any room – delicious. If you’re planning on going any time soon – you will definitely need to book as this is likely to be an Olympic hangout.
6.The Hidden Hut, Porthcurnick Beach, Nr Portscatho, Truro, Cornwall,
This beach find on the Roseland Peninsular offers something a little different. A wooden beach hut found on the South West Coastal Footpath, overlooking the stunning Porthcurnick Beach is open from March to October and in the summer evenings it holds occasional pop-up feast nights. What will keep this place great is the fact that you can’t drive to it – so only for the diehards who know a good thing when they hear it. Although the hut is owned by the National Trust it’s run independently by a family. Delicious lunches and snacks (Tues to Sun) which can either be taken away to eat on the beach or eaten in their seating area with fab views. Also known for its amazing homemade cakes and ice creams. From May- September they hold outside feast nights, expect amazing paella, delicious fish cooked on wood fire and charcoal grill or sardine or scallop nights (but you’ll need to book for these). So good are these night feasts that the summer nights are already sold out… but watch out for the autumn dates soon to be announced (you’ll need to bring your own bowl, and cutlery and maybe a warm blanket). Photo Credit: Mark Dring Photography
7. Hix Oyster and Fish House, Cobb Road, Lyme Regis, Dorset, 01297 446 910
This great little restaurant in fossil centre, Lyme Regis is owned by Mark Hix. With simple delicious local sea food it’s another favourite of ours. We love the Hix Fix (prosecco with Morello cherries soaked in Temperley eau de vie) and Lyme Bay Shell fish soup. The food is always delicious. With its amazing view over the harbour and relatively new terrace, this always feels like a bit of a treat place and on a sunny day this is a pretty uplifting place to have lunch. Worth trying the hix fix jelly for pudding and something we have yet to try but which sounds delicious are Julian Temperley’s cider brandy chocolate truffles.
8.Riverside Restaurant, West Bay, Bridport, Dorset.
This is a restaurant people keep coming back to. Set in West Bay in a quirky building overlooking the river and reached by a bridge, with the sea just a short seagull flight away. Mouth wateringly good seafood, with their seafood platter always hugely popular, but also has treats such as Portland crab and sweetcorn chowder or fillet of brill with spinach and sorrel sauce. Sustainability plays a big part in this restaurant and as well as having a sustainability log at the reception, 90% of its supplies are apparently locally sourced. Open Tues – Sun and definitely advisable to book.
Set right on the beach looking over the stunning Watergate Bay, this Jamie Oliver founded restaurant is owned by the Cornwall Foundation of Promise and each year hires a new group of apprentices to learn the skills of cooking. With its Italian inspired food the menu changes twice a day. Lots to choose from but well known for its simple local food with over 80% coming from Cornwall, including fresh bread from local Da Bara Bakeries. It does great breakfasts (good after a quick morning surf) with a particular favourite being eggy bread with maple syrup. It also does more informal lunches and dinners (with an expansive tasting menu of 5 courses). It’s not cheap but certainly delicious. Watergate Bay is also home of the Extreme Academy for serious surfers…so get ready for some action.
10.Seahorse Restaurant, 5 South Embankment, Dartmouth, Devon
This top restaurant owned by chef, Mitch Tonks, is set on the banks of the River Dart in Dartmouth. Known for their delicious local seafood and simple grilled meats with much of the seafood being roasted on an open charcoal fire. They also do a delicious lobster spaghetti and sometimes have small cuttlefish fried crisp with artichokes and lemon and the menu. Well known for their great wine list, if you miss the last passenger ferry back the Seahorse will organize your boat back across the river. They often hold events here and have Dartmouth Crab Day on the 5th August, with music, food and Mitch Tonks and Nathan Outlaw doing some demos. They also do a pretty good value set lunch menu Wed – Sun.