As we approach the holiday season, food lovers across the UK will be licking their lips and relishing the opportunity to take their dining ‘Al Fresco’ at some of the country’s most popular seaside resorts. With so many restaurants, bars and cafes to choose from, even for the most seasoned expert, deciding where to dine can be an arduous task.
So, to help you out, we’ve picked some of the UK’s best seaside restaurants, giving the low-down on each one. Whether it’s the location, the setting, the service, the menu or perhaps the wine selection, this guide showcases the cream of the crop – and we’re talking proper Devon cream!
Jamie Oliver’s coastal offering is a large, bright, modern and open restaurant directly facing the sea so there’s plenty to feast your eyes on. Noticeably more than a beach cafe, this Rosette-wielding restaurant prides itself in serving signature rustic Italian cuisine. Recently refurbished in 2013, the interior is stunning and features an antipasti bar. Local specialities includes such delights as Cornish brill served with Jerusalem artichokes, chard and salmoriglio, or dry aged Cornish ribeye with watercress and horseradish.
Details: www.fifteencornwall.co.uk T: 01637 861000
Porthminster is the largest of St Ives’ beaches, and at the far end you’ll find Porthminster Beach Restaurant. This café, in its idyllic setting under the cliffs and surrounded by pure white sand, could be mistaken for being in a Caribbean resort! Soak up the summer sun on the roof terrace, or visit in winter and enjoy stunning views from the cover of the restaurant. The delicious food served here is certainly a cut above your traditional beach cafe, and the multi-award-winning restaurant boasts an AA Rosette. Dishes include salt and spice squid, Porthminster monkfish curry, and caramelised bananas.
Details: www.porthminstercafe.co.uk T: 01736 795352
With great views of the North Sands beach just across the road and stunning Devon countryside behind. This is arguably one of the UK’s best seaside restaurants. The décor and casual atmosphere of this converted 1920s prefab beach hut (once the town’s tennis pavilion) create an apt setting. Pale washed floors, picture windows, white wooden Venetian blinds and outdoor seating for 160, the restaurant is famed for its top breakfasts, as well as their fabulous barbecues from 4.00pm onwards. Other tempting delights include great cones of deep fried popcorn shrimps with sweet chilli dip and whole cracked crabs with garlic mayonnaise, plus buckets of prawn. Booking is definitely advised, although you can just turn up for their summer BBQs from 4.00pm – 8.30pm.
Details: www.winkingprawn.co.uk T: 01548 842 326
This charming restaurant in Fossil Centre, Lyme Regis, is owned by Mark Hix. With simple, delicious local sea food it’s another winner. With its amazing views from the terrace over the harbour, the relaxed atmosphere couldn’t be more fitting for such a beautiful setting. The simple dishes, including Portland cock crab, let the fresh seafood speak for itself. Afternoon tea, including options such as a Dorset border cream tea and toasted teacakes, is also served.
Details: www.hixrestaurants.co.uk T: 01297 446 910
Delicious fresh seafood, lobsters to crack and oysters to shuck, all with stunning sea views and a salty breeze, this great restaurant/café on the beach is one not to miss out on. With the stunning Jurassic Coast and the crashing waves of the beach just a few steps away, menu offerings include great local fresh fish, hand dived scallops and even spider crabs from their own beach. The restaurant boasts an outside covered seating area and also an ice cream parlour. The staff here are wonderful. 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 and certainly one of the UK’s best seaside restaurants.
Details: www.hivebeachcafe.co.uk T: 01308 897 070
Take the ferry across from Poole or drive past Corfe Castle to reach this knock out café with its wonderful views, overlooking Brownsea Island and just across the road from Shell Bay and the stunning Studland 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 undeniably a romantic little spot. There aren’t many better places to spend a day by the beach with a lunch or dinner time treat of sea fresh food.
Details: www.shellbay.net T: 01929 450 363
Opened in 2013, The Hut quickly gained a gathering of locals and holidaymakers for its short, well prepared lunch and dinner menu, friendly young staff, great cocktails and panoramic terrace views of a yacht-filled Solent. The restaurant is set right above a safe swimming beach, and is west-facing, so makes a great spot for an evening drink. Dishes include seafood linguine at lunch and king scallops and pork belly with a squid ink reduction. There are also weekend evening barbecues, weather permitting.
Details: www.thehutcolwell.co.uk T: 01983 898637
In a setting that feels almost Mediterranean with shady pine trees and sandy ground, this quirky cafe is a great spot for al fresco breakfast, lunch or tea, with views across the salt marshes to the sea. Dishes include tapas of Wiveton asparagus, crab, chilli and parmesan salad, and salt cod cakes with aioli. There are wood-fired pizzas available on weekday evenings in the summer. Due to its popularity, booking is definitely recommended.
Details: www.wivetonhall.co.uk/cafe T: 01263 740515
Will Holland, who heads up the kitchen at Coast, came from the restaurant La Bécasse in Ludlow, and now produces fresh seafood at this top class restaurant next to the sea at picturesque Saundersfoot. Having won a Michelin star in just under two years, the food is second to none and makes this undoubtedly one of the UK’s best seaside restaurants. The kitchen makes use of local, seasonal produce, including fish from the harbour at Saundersfoot (about 500m from the restaurant, visible from the terrace) and meat from local farms. The menu changes but may include Little Haven picked crab to start, followed by roast Welsh lamb chump or turbot with confit fennel, and white chocolate cheesecake.
Details: www.coastsaundersfoot.co.uk T: 01834 810800
A more remote place to tuck into fresh seafood would be hard to find, but that’s what makes the Three Chimneys so special: fish from the sea nearby and handmade local cheeses. Dishes on the menu may include blade of Black Isle beef, River Esk trout, and warm sultana cake with Scottish strawberries. Due to its understandable popularity, booking is essential to avoid disappointment.
Details: www.threechimneys.co.uk T: 01470 511258
So, wherever you choose to get your seaside fix of fine, local cuisine, surrounded by the sea, sand, and sometimes even sunshine, our trusty guide should help you to pick out some of the UK’s best seaside restaurants. In fact, dining at any of these restaurants could fool you to thinking you are in fact in the Mediterranean!