Skewered prawns on a bed of samphire; pan-fried scallops with brown butter and bacon lardons (cue watering mouths); seafood in all its diversity is a thing of unctuous beauty, with even the staunchest of professed non-seafood eaters seeming to cave at the sight of a crispy battered cod and triple fried chips.
Of course, the coast and ‘fruits de mare’ are a quintessentially inseparable partnership, much like livestock and the countryside is, so naturally us locals know a thing or two about where to go for our seafood fix. In this blog we place Devon in the spotlight as it’s literally teeming with wonderful places to enjoy a fish supper (later we’ll highlight the illustrious Cornish seafood scene which, obviously, would be close to criminal to omit from our list).
The Galley Restaurant in Topsham
Fifteen minutes’ drive from Exeter, Topsham rests on the banks of the Exe Estuary and if you’re enjoying an Exeter holiday you’ll need to seek out its pretty streets and cosmopolitan atmosphere for a worthwhile addition to your stay. Lined with boutiquey shops and attractive 17th Century merchant houses, it’s a favourite weekend brunch destination for both walkers and the well-heeled, so unsurprisingly it’s crammed with lots and lots of good restaurants. One of those is the Galley; a small Michelin Guide restaurant with a relaxing atmosphere and excellent service, dishing up some of the most delicious Devon-sourced food around. We recommend the smoked mackerel pate and the BBQ hake fillet; utterly yummy.
Number 7 Fish Bistro in Torquay
We’re a big fan of No. 7. Yes it’s in a pretty fantastic location right on the harbour. Yes it’s décor feels incredibly familiar (like you’re popping home for the weekend). But its seafood, well, it’s something quite marvellous. Since 1993 the Stacey Family have been running their Bistro style restaurant which has since become a firm fixture on the dining out calendar of many a visitor enjoying a holiday in Torquay. The menu features the freshest of fish and shellfish caught in the bay’s waters and we could eat the Substantial Seafood Broth (made with fresh Whole Crab) and Monkfish Baked with Black Pepper and Sea Salt all day long.
The Cricket Inn in Beesands
Any place with a day of the week dedicated solely (it had to happen) to seafood means business. Wildly popular with the locals, The Cricket Inn’s Sunday Seafood is a tantalising offering of two courses or ‘innings’ that include such delights as Crispy Devilled Whitebait, Paella and a Seafood Pancake with queen scallops, prawns and cod fillet in a creamy garlic sauce. If you’re making your way down to the coast for a South Hams holiday or a short weekend sojourn to the area, this has got to be your Sunday stop; but be sure to book ahead!
Simply Fish in Brixham
A firm favourite of ours, Simply Fish flashes its blue and silver signage just metres from Brixham’s harbour and is so well-frequented by locals that there’s rarely a time any of its tables are empty. Priding itself on serving the freshest of fish, it’s daily catch is exactly that – caught and landed that day on Brixham’s bustling quay. Your Brixham holiday isn’t complete until you’ve delighted yourself in the Pan-fried Hake or Monkfish Curry, not to mention the crispy golden delectableness of Battered Cod and Chunky Chips; deep-fried, crunchy and completely more-ish.
The River Exe Café
Boat, water, seafood…sounds like the perfect partnership, doesn’t it? A rare and unique find and a bucket-list must if you’re on holiday in Exmouth, this custom built barge floats well off shore in the Exe Estuary and is accessible by either water taxi or from Exmouth Marina (for those of us lucky enough to own vessels). The views are spectacular, and so is the cooking with a River Exe Mussel Bar and Oysters at the heart of its menu. The café is seasonal so you’ll only be able to jump aboard between the months of April and September…well worth the wait though!
The Royal Plaice in Appledore
Expect to find the freshest of local line caught fish at this family run restaurant, set in the Royal Hotel within the picturesque seaside village of Appledore. Using their very own special recipe batter, fish is crisp, light and flaky and served with a healthy dollop of home-made tartare sauce. Regular features on the menu also include skate wings, plaice and scallops washed down with a real ale and followed by a meandering walk down to Appledore’s famous quay before retiring to your holiday cottage.
Bushell’s in Dartmouth
The River Dart is stunning, and the more time we can spend looking out over its shimmering waters the happier we are. Stays in Dartmouth mean riverside walks are par for the course but securing your very own table right on the water is a bit of a treat. The views are heavenly with sailing boats gliding across the surface and the light bouncing off their wake, and there’s really no better place to enjoy your mackerel mousse in the sunshine than at Bushell’s. On wetter days patrons can relish the river views through vast windows while wolfing down a massive portion of Elberry Cove Mussels in a Creamy Cider Sauce, or while the afternoon away with a glass of wine and a delectable Dartmouth Crab Sandwich.
Larah Walker – Marketing Executive at Luxury Coastal
I was born in South Africa and spent most of my life in the western Cape before relocating to Torbay 11 years ago. I love to travel, write, cook (my favourite books to read are recipe books), and paint; but prefer nothing more than simply spending time with my amazing family.