High-end restaurants, top takeaways and cosy corners – Deputy Editor Kayleigh Rattle has trawled the country for some of the freshest fish and seafood. Here’s where to tuck in…
The Company Shed, West Mersea, Essex
When it comes to mouth-wateringly good seafood and rustic charm, you can’t beat family-run The Company Shed. This small, cosy and intimate eatery – literally a shed – has earned quite the reputation across Essex and beyond, and you can see why. Its convenient location, at the intersection between the Colne Estuary, Blackwater River and the North Sea, makes it ideal for fresh seafood, such as the much-revered plump and silky native Mersea oysters. You can eat in or takeaway, but we recommend getting there early to avoid the queues. Soak up the lively atmosphere and tuck into some scallops seared in thyme with butter – utterly delicious. Bringing your own bread and wine is recommended, but Mersea Island wine and locally-brewed beer is also available should your visit be more spontaneous. If weather permits, grab a show-stopping seafood platter and head to one of the many benches scattered along the Colne Estuary to soak up the views – you’ll not be disappointed.
Also check out… Mehalahs, East Mersea
The Wright Brothers, London and Cornwall
There’s plenty of places for seafood in the city, but if you really want to be impressed, head to The Wright Brothers. You’ll find restaurants from these revered shellfish merchants across Soho, Borough Market, South Kensington and Spitalfields, the elegant marble oyster bar of the latter being where we decided to perch ourselves for lunch recently. Given our front row view of the oyster shucking and preparation, it was impossible not to opt for the in-house smoked Carlingfords to kick things off. The crispy fried variety with Louis sauce were also delectable, as were the smoked haddock and mustard croquettes. The Wright Brothers’ menu is expansive, showcasing everything from chargrilled Brixham squid with tomato chutney to a seafood stew with Cornish mussels, pink fir potatoes and confit fennel, but we couldn’t resist the catch of the day, a mighty a tranche of brill served with springy samphire and crab butter. You’re in great hands when it comes to beverages, too. If you fancy washing each course down with a bespoke cocktail (honestly, you’ll find it hard not to), The Wright Brothers has an impressive selection of signature and seasonal cocktails that will tantalise your taste buds no end.
Also check out… Prawn on the Lawn, London and Padstow
Kingfisher Fish and Chips, Plympton, Devon
While the topic of where to find the best fish and chips is always hotly contested, there’s no denying the facts – Kingfisher was voted the best takeaway in the 2017 National Fish and Chip awards. As well as selling much-loved classics including sustainable cod, plaice haddock and scampi, you’ll also find whole lobster, smoked herring and Cornish sardine fishcakes on offer. The best bit? The menu even has QR codes, so you can track the provenance of your dinner in a flash.
Also check out… Henleys Fish and Chips, Wivenhoe
Ondine, Edinburgh, Scotland
If you’re keen to sample some of Scotland’s finest and freshest seafood, look no further than Ondine, situated within Edinburgh’s historic old town. With a menu as impressive as its surroundings, Ondine is brimming with local seafood specialities for you to try. As well as boasting an impressive oyster bar where you can sample Loch Fyne, Menai, Fal Native and Carlingford varieties to name but a few (don’t miss ‘oyster hour’ where you can sample them for £1), the main restaurant itself is a cosy yet upmarket affair. The sea bream curry is a delight, as are the Shetland mussels with fermented ginger and black bean. Filled with fresh lobster, langoustine, mussels, cockles, clams and more, Ondine’s signature seafood platter also comes highly recommended; the hardest part will be deciding what to order.
Also check out… The Salt Room, Brighton
The Lobster Shack, Whitstable, Kent
Sit by one of the large, open windows of The Lobster Shack and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re on a raft floating out at sea. The restaurant’s idyllic location – right on Whitstable’s seafront – also makes it the perfect spot for fresh fish and seafood. Be sure to sample some of Whistable’s native and rock oysters while you’re there, and the lobster baked in parsley butter is hard to beat. Wash it all down with local Kentish Chapel Down wine and beers from Whitstable Brewery and if it’s a clear day, make the most of a stunning sunset by perching on one of the outdoor benches.
Also check out… The Boardwalk,Southwold
St Clement’s, St Leonard’s-on-Sea, East Sussex
Just a stone’s throw away from the bustling promenade, vintage shops and cafés of Hastings is St Clement’s, a quaint little restaurant that’s perfect for soaking up the charm – and seafood – of the Sussex coast. Offering seasonal menus which change regularly according to availability, St Clement’s uses produce that’s sourced from local farms, fishermen and grocers. Fresh fish specialities include the Hastings fishcakes, served with herb and caper crème fraîche and, of course, the catch of the day.
Also check out… The Gurnard’s Head,Cornwall