showcasing the best of the south west

Top 10 Family Restaurants in the SW

The Hive, Dorset

A beach restaurant (main image above) that excels in serving everything from the freshest, most delicious fish, to killer coffee and spectacular cake. Breakfast deserves a special mention - delicacies such as smoked haddock, poached egg, rocket and chive mayonnaise.

For lunch a seafood platter, a crab sandwich with a side order of chips, fish and chips for the kids and a bottle of wine from nearby Portesham. Yes they take locality very seriously here and the food is immense. Come here for a blow-out - hot shellfish platter for 2, Burton Bradstock lobster, West Bay crab, langoustines, crevettes and scallops, steamed in white wine, chilli, ginger, garlic and cream - is £60 and to die for.  Get here early for a lunchtime table (12 latest), you can't book and it's deservedly popular. Afterwards hunt for fossils on Burton Bradstock one of the oldest beaches in Britain and enjoy a Lovington's ice cream.  

The Stable, Weymouth, Dorset  

An offshoot of Country Calling favourite The Bull in Bridport, The Stable (pictured above) is housed above the old harbour master's office on Custom's House Quay in Weymouth.

Spectacular views, then, but you are here for the knock-out pizza with top-knotch ingredients like Wookey Hole cheddar and Bath Pig chorizo, Blue Vinney or marinated lamb. Plenty of safe options too so kids will adore them and adults will love the jugs of artisan cider. Great salads and pies too if pizza is not your thing. Tables are shared but the pace is as hectic or laid-back as you want it to be. Afterwards surely a bit of Kiss-Me-Quick action and a donkey ride on Weymouth Beach?

Riverford Field Kitchen, Devon    

Riverford's Field Kitchen and organic farm shop just outside Totnes is a favourite with our readers. It's an entirely different way of eating, one where vegetables take centre stage. There are no menus but a meat dish and six inventive, spectacular vegetable dishes are brought to your table on platters to share. The food depends entirely on what is growing in the fields - no better way to educate your kids about fantastic food than this. You might find chicken with basil and lentils, courgette, feta and mint baked in pastry, roasted new potatoes with rosemary, carrots, broad beans and lemon, courgettes and slow roasted tomatoes. For pudding perhaps a dark chocolate, almond and raspberry torte, a lemon tart or a sticky toffee pudding. The food is outrageously good and you need to book. Better still there's a dressing up box for kids and an organic farm shop for you.  A real treat.





The Winking Prawn, Salcombe, Devon

The Winking Prawn on North Sands in Salcombe is a bit of an institution. Right on the beach, serving whole cracked crab with garlic mayonnaise, half lobster with cocktail sauce, scallops with bacon, grilled mackerel fillets with beetroot and salted cucumber. BBQs here are legendary - think whole mackerel, cajun salmon, steak, chicken wings, halloumi with hot dressed potatoes and salad. Children's meals include junior rump steak, chicken breast, pasta or sausages all served with stir fried veg. There's a beach box full of toys and ice cream, of course. Open all day and for dinner, it just can't be beaten. Let your kids gamble on the sand while you polish off the Chablis.

At the Chapel, Somerset  

From the outset At the Chapel set out to be all things to all people and children are warmly welcomed here. Go there any weekday morning and you'll find boho mummies chatting over coffee while their beautifully dressed offspring munch freshly baked croissants and roam. Doodle books and tubs of pencils are available, Sunday roasts, a speciality here, can be ordered in half portions. There is a children's menu with delights such as Chapel cheeseburger, salmon fish fingers and roast belly of pork with apple sauce but the real draw is the wood-fired pizza. Chorizo, buffalo mozzarella and tomato, taleggio, field mushrooms and thyme, artichokes, pancetta and fontina - you'll love them even more than the kids do. The food is outstanding but the vibe is laid back - feasibly you can sip Pinot Noir while the children just get on with it.

River Cottage Canteen, Axminster, Devon

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingshall forged a career out of cooking for his family so of course his Canteens are supremely kid-friendly. If the summer holidays are all about too many ice creams come here to assuage your conscience with proper food which the kids will love. This summer there are colouring competitions alongside delicious, sustainable food. On the regularly changing childrens' menu you'll find hummus and carrot sticks, heritage carrot risotto, Hugh's herby bangers and mash, pollock fishcakes. Children can also order half portions from the main menu - guaranteed to please even the pickiest eaters.


Sam's On the Beach, Polkerris, Cornwall  

Nowhere better for lunch with your kids than this converted RNLI lifeboat station right on the beach at Polkerris. In summer get here early (12 latest) to secure a table outside with white sand beneath your feet. From this vantage point your kids can play on the beach and even jump off the jetty right in front of your eyes. Awesome pizzas, Thai style mussels, pan-fried scallops or a goat's cheese, sun-dried tomato and avocado salad that's in last meal territory. It's just as nice in winter, cosy up inside and watch the lashing waves outside.  

Gylly Beach Cafe, Cornwall

So many brilliant beach restaurants in Cornwall but this one gets our vote for its spectacular location on Gyllngvase Beach and for the fact that when we visited one freezing cold January it was still idyllic and they supplied blankets and outdoor heaters for those brave enough. We must mention the burgers which come in a tower with smoked bacon, Davidstow cheddar, lettuce, tomato, chilli jam and chips. The food is outstanding whether you opt for asparagus, goat's cheese and spring onion frittata or hot smoked salmon and dill fishcakes. Breakfasts (full Cornish, eggs florentine, eggs benedict) are just as good and a special kids menu including those burgers, battered local fish and chips or meatballs with spaghetti. Roskilly's ice cream and smoothies.

Town Mill Bakery, Lyme Regis, Dorset

Organic artisan bakers who make cakes, breads and pastries your grandmother would have been proud of. This is the place to come for breakfast, lunch or tea and throughout August there are divine pizzas for supper. Everything is home-made including the jam and peanut butter for your toast and they take locality very seriously. No coca cola here but apple juice from a nearby orchard. For lunch there are salads in summer, hearty soups and stews in winter relying on wonderfully fresh organic veg. I'd be tempted by the tea - cakes and scones hot from the oven with their own home-made butter and jam. And if you're in the area in August - those in the know say the Margherita pizza is like none other. Guaranteed crowd pleaser, this one.

Pythouse Walled Kitchen Garden & Cafe, Wiltshire  

Ultimate hang-out for kids, especially small ones, who'll find a wendy house stocked with toys. When the sun shines sit outside in one of the most picturesque gardens in the West Country. Lots of space here, a regularly changing menu and appealing food for kids including pasta with vegetable sauce from the garden, fishcakes, soups and risotto. For grown ups a charcuterie platter to share, BBQd lamb from Pythouse estate, prawn risotto, ham hock terrine and artisan bread. Beautiful cakes baked daily and great coffee mean this works well throughout the day. Ice creams in the freezer will keep the kids happy.  

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