Here's a selection of must-visit seafood restaurants along our beautiful coastline, with seafood sourced using sustainable methods of production and capture. Words: Madeleine Barber
FOR A WINNING COMBO
1. The Old Boat House, Amble, Northumberland
The Old Boat House was crowned Coastal Fish Restaurant of the Year in the 2016 Fishing News Awards for its dedication to sustainability and skilfully created seafood dishes. Owners Martin and Ruth were thrilled. ‘It’s a massive privilege to see that the public have voted for what we’ve created,’ Martin said. The restaurant is located on picturesque Amble harbour and serves seafood straight from the boats. Some dishes have an Italian twist, like the fresh shrimp pizza with garlic salsa and wild rocket, and some are fantastically traditional – fish fingers with tartare sauce, smoked haddock chowder, and The Old Boat House classic fish and chips. We think it’s a worthy winner. (01665 711 232, boathousefoodgroup.co.uk).
FOR A HIGHLAND SHACK
2. Kishorn Seafood Bar, Strathcarron, Ross-Shire
This blue shack on Loch Kishorn has been popular with tourists and locals for over 20 years. Shellfish is sourced using sustainable methods of production and capture, so crabs oysters, mussels, prawns, scallops, squats and lobster can be enjoyed carefree. The quirky house specialty is hand-dived local scallops fried gently in fresh garlic butter, served with a hot croissant. (01520 733240, kishornseafoodbar.co.uk).
FOR CREATIVE TYPES
3. The Magpie Café, Whitby, North Yorkshire
There is always a queue, but the fine fish dishes at The Magpie are worth the wait. Popular choices are seafood chowder and fish and chips with choices from cod, haddock and skate to halibut, monkfish and woof. Feeling creative? Make your own grilled or poached fish platter from a smorgasbord of seafood and sides. All fish is sourced under the watchful eye of the Fully Documented Fisheries scheme. (01947 602058, magpiecafe.co.uk).
FOR A DAILY MENU
4. Longsands Fish Kitchen, Tynemouth, North Shields
As a proud member of the National Federation of Fish Friers, Longsands Fish Kitchen has sustainability at its core, sourcing seafood from waters where stocks are rising. The menu changes according to what local fishermen land each day. As well as fish and chip dishes, Longsands serves a monkfish and prawn coconut curry, and a spicy shrimp burger. There is also a separate kids’ and takeaway menu. (0191 2728552, longsandsfishkitchen.com).
FOR A CHARITABLE MEAL
5. Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, Port Isaac, Cornwall
Michelin-star chef Nathan Outlaw has brought us his Fish Kitchen with sustainability and charity in mind – produce is bought from local inshore boats certified by the Responsible Fishing Scheme and local suppliers, plus a discretionary £1 donation is added to each bill for Port Isaac RNLI. He’s put together a simple, effective menu of small plates, including crispy monkfish with chilli jam, cuttlefish curry with chickpeas, aubergine and spinach, and charred gurnard with fennel, gherkin and olive salad. Don’t miss out on the perfect chunky chips! (01208 881183, outlaws.co.uk).
FOR A UNIQUE LOCATION
6. River Exe Café, Exmouth, Devon
The River Exe Café floats in the centre of its eponymous river and is accessed via the Puffin water taxi from Exmouth Marina. Local fishermen work in the waters around the café, delivering directly to it. The menu’s mussels even grow directly under diners’ feet! This award-winning shellfish comes in a choice of flavours: classic moules marinière, Devon cider and smoked bacon, fennel and Pernod, and Spanish chorizo and tomato. The ‘gastro shed’ also serves sharing platters with fish, plus local crab, clams and scallops. Oh, and the views are as spectacular as the food. (07761 116103, riverexecafe.com).
FOR CELEBRITY STATUS
7. HIX Oyster And Fish House, Lyme Regis, Dorset
The Oyster and Fish House is run by celebrity chef Mark Hix. Overlooking Lyme Regis’ bustling harbour, its menu changes daily and offers locally fished and foraged produce. Start with Portland crab rosti and wood sorrel, then try huss curry, fish steaks and fillets, whole Lyme Bay lobsters, or a range of grilled fish on the bone served with either green or hollandaise sauce. Be aware that reservations are essential. (01297 446910, theoysterandfishhouse.co.uk).
FOR A FAMILY AFFAIR
8. Café Fish, Tobermory, Scotland
This eatery, pioneered by cousins Jane McDonald and Liz McGougan, has been serving freshly cooked seafood since 2004. Views over Tobermory Bay towards the Sound of Mull make a mighty backdrop, and diners may spot Café Fish’s own boat – The Highlander – landing lobster and langoustines, which it does daily. Also on the menu, all landed locally, are monkfish, Dover sole, John Dory, halibut, squid, and mussels from nearby Inverlussa. (01688 301253, thecafefish.com).
FOR MODERN TRENDS
9. The Salt Room, Brighton, Sussex
Opened in February 2015, The Salt Room is a relatively new kid on the block. It champions sustainable, local seafood and meat, and encourages sharing plates like nearby sister restaurant, The Coal Shed. The menu is tantalising, with hake, sea trout, stone bass and a Surf Board for two, made up of hot fruits of the sea. From the charcoal grill, choose the catch of the day or the surf ‘n’ turf of lobster and Black Angus rib-eye steak. There are also veggie options, such as fire-roasted leeks with peas, girolles, cauliflower, truffle and grilled cream. (01273 929488, saltroom-restaurant.co.uk).
FOR FRIENDLY VIBES
10. Rockfish, Various, Devon
There are four Mitch Tonks Rockfish restaurants dotted around Devon in Dartmouth, Plymouth, Torquay and Brixham, all as respected as each other. Cod and haddock are fished in MSC-certified waters and fresh produce is bought daily at Brixham’s fish market, where Rockfish finds over 30 species of fish to offer to its customers. For this reason, the local fish menu is different each day. Traditional fish and chips are permanently on offer, along with seafood tacos, Singapore-style soft shell crab and South Devon crab rolls. (therockfish.co.uk).