Lyn Peninsula Photo VistWales
The British Isles punch above their weight when it comes to great restaurants. But while many foodies rhapsodise about the Michelin-starred fare served in big city dining rooms, those in the know realise that some of the finest eating can be found on the furthest reaches of the land.
From the rolling hills of Devon to the craggy majesty of Scotland, we’ve selected some of the best places to eat around our coastline. You might even call them ‘shore things’. (Sorry).
Salcombe bay - Photo: littlemisspurps on VisualHunt / CC BY
This beautiful seaside town, set against the verdant backdrop of the South Hams, has been dubbed ‘Chelsea-on-sea’ due to its many wealthy second-home residents. But what they bring with them (besides a bunch of tousle-haired kids wearing Boden) is a demand for great eating and drinking opportunities.
Winking Prawn restaurant, Salcombe.
This has led to the birth of brilliant little beachside restaurants such as the Winking Prawn, which serves fabulous, er prawns (not necessarily winking) and barbecue dishes, just a few yards from the breaking waves at North Sands beach.
Family run and family friendly, it’s all ice cream colours and an eclectic mix of decor from some of their favourite aspects of life by the sea.
Whitstable Oysters Photo - Visit Kent and Gourmet Garden Trails.
Kent may be known as ‘the garden of England’ for its fertile fields and gently rolling hills but its coastal offerings are no slouch either.
Beach Walk Cafe Photo - Visit Canterbury (C) Alex Hare
Take the pretty bohemian town of Whitstable, for example. Popular with London day trippers (it’s just 90 mins by train from the capital), it offers brilliant eateries, good beaches for walking and cute shops for pottering.
Honey Kanes sweet shop, Whitstable Photo - Visit Canterbury (C) Alex Hare
HoneyKanes sweet shop has been delighting Whitstable since 2018. And remember, when you’re on holiday or a day trip, calories don’t count.
Wheelers Oyster bar Whitstable Photo - Visit Canterbury (C) Alex Hare
Pride and joy in Whitstable are the local oysters – and the place to eat them is Wheelers Oyster Bar, the oldest restaurant in town. Enjoy the finest briny plump specimens as part of a ‘browsing’ plate, which might also include spice-crusted squid with sweet chilli dressing or tempura of soft-shell crab with coriander, spring onion and sea salt (yummmmmmm).
Seafood platter at the Crab and Winkle Photo : Ben Sutherland on Visual hunt / CC BY
If it’s fully booked, which it often is as it’s so small, another great option is the Crab and Winkle overlooking the harbour.
Whitstable harbour Photo - Visit Kent and Gourmet Garden Trails.
Here you’ll find the flappingly fresh best of that day’s catches simply prepared and served in an unpretentious dining room. All while the sea laps gently in the harbour!
Idle Rocks Hotel, St Mawes Photo Courtesy of Idle Rocks
A perfect little fishing village sitting on Cornwall’s Roseland peninsula, it is home to some of the area’s most desirable holiday cottages. Little wonder then, that canny restauranteurs have also descended to make this a foodie hotspot.
Photo Courtesy of Idle Rocks
Whether it’s a casual drink and a ploughman’s lunch at a harbourside pub or a full-blown gastronomic experience, St Mawes has something for everyone. The most prestigious restaurant is undoubtedly The Idle Rocks which does a delicious looking Baked Stone Bass!
Photo Courtesy of Idle Rocks
You can also enjoy fresh oysters plucked that day, mere feet from where you sit (you may even see Chef Mark Apsey from The Idle Rock, idly foraging). Other highlights include its lobster and shellfish bisque and a deceptively light chunk of pork in barbecue sauce, all served in an atmosphere that feels like a friend’s country house.
Sailing at St Mawes
Oh, and wannabe bloggers should note that alongside every dish being an Instagrammer’s dream, St Mawes itself has some stunning landscapes and great action shots with the sailing!
Llyn Peninsula Photo - Visit Wales
This green finger of hilly land pokes into the Irish Sea and offers 70 miles of wildlife-rich coastland, much of it designated an Area of Outstanding Beauty.
Photo - Visit Wales
Happily; walkers and cyclists have a host of great eating options in what is becoming the gastro capital of rural Wales.
For those keen to shop for produce, you’ll find great seafood, vegetables, sea salt and Welsh Black beef at the many indie stores in Anglesey.
Plas Bodegroes Photo - Paul Avis / Alamy Stock Photo
For a classic country house dining experience, head to Plas Bodegroes near Pwllheli. It held a Michelin star for almost 20 years and serves modern cuisine based on the region’s finest ingredients – at a very reasonable £49 for three courses. The saltmarsh lamb comes highly recommended.
Cromer is as handsome as it is quirky! The beachfront has cute beach huts and the town is filled with dozens of independent cafes, coffee shops and restaurants.
Cromer beach Photo credit: orangeaurochs on Visualhunt.com / CC BY
It’s said that their particularly sweet, meaty taste comes from the fact that they live in the shallow nutrient-rich waters of the coastal chalk reef. And these tasty crabs and beautiful Cromer beach ensure a healthy amount of visitors to this part of Norfolk.
Photo Courtesy of The Grove
As well as just-caught crab – you can enjoy other great local dishes such as mussels in a white wine sauce, super tasty bream or haunch of Gunton venison – at the AA Rosette-awarded hotel and restaurant The Grove.
Photo Courtesy of The Grove
A magnificent original Georgian house you can eat in the elegant dining room and give silent thanks to those intrepid fisherman who’ve battled the elements to bring the best seafood to your plate.
Photo Riley Currie on Unsplash
Scotland’s big cities may have the lion’s share of notable restaurants but its smaller towns and villages are home to plenty of hidden gems. The busy west coast town of Oban is a case in point, particularly if you like a glass or two of the ‘water of life’ to accompany your food odyssey.
Photo - mentrea from Pixabay
Take a trip to its whisky distillery – one of the country’s oldest – and enjoy a Sensory and Flavour Finding Tour which culminates, of course, in tasting some of the distillery’s finest drams.
Photo - dun_deagh on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA
It’s the perfect aperitif before heading to Ee-Usk – a waterside wonder of a restaurant with fabulous views of the mountains of Mull and Morven. The Observer critic Jay Rayner raved about the place and with good reason, thanks to its locally caught and perfectly prepared crabs, lobsters, langoustines and mussels – all served at “impressive prices”, according to Rayner (£22.95 for a vast seafood platter).
Mountains of Morvern, in the Sound of Mull, near Oban Photo - Richard Szwejkowski on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA
Alongside the fantastic food, the landscape will also delight! Morvern is the most southerly peninsula and is where people can arrive by ferry from the Isle of Mull.
Galway Photo - iStock/rihardzz
The fourth largest city in the country, Galway is known as something of a party town, due to its big student population.
Lobster Traps, Galway
Yet despite its buzz, there’s peace and beauty here too as it sits on the 2,500km Wild Atlantic Way.
Corrib River, Galway Photo - iStock/lisandrotrarbach
Take an early evening stroll through its cobbled, medieval streets, perhaps popping into one of its many live music pubs. Maybe try an amble over one of the bridges on the Corrib River before taking a cab ride to the village of Barna to visit the terrific O’Grady’s on the Pier. Crashing waves on a sandy beach are the backdrop while inside all is candlelit loveliness and cheerful, attentive service at this award-winning, nautical-themed dining room.
Naturally, seafood is front and centre – crabs, scallops and Galway Oysters!