Our expert guide to the best seafood restaurants in the UK. Here you will find everything from locally sourced fish, lobsters and oysters, to crab pasties and seafood pie.
Best seafood restaurants in London
Parsons, Covent Garden
With its Victorian-style white tiles and high marble-counter tables, Parsons has the feel of a traditional, old-school fish restaurant that’s been there for decades, not one that only opened in Covent Garden at the end of 2017.
Sibling to The 10 Cases across the road on Endell Street, Parsons is informal enough to drop in for a half-dozen oysters and a glass of fizz, or settle down for a full-on feast of sea trout tartare with bloody mary jelly; octopus with duck-fat potatoes, paprika and parsley oil; or a hearty bowl of clam chowder packed with smoked bacon, shellfish, potatoes and cream.
- Parsons is informal enough to drop in for a half-dozen oysters and a glass of fizz.
Prawn on The Lawn, Islington
Like its Cornish sibling in Padstow, Prawn on the Lawn in Islington is a fishmonger and restaurant all rolled into one. Rick Toogood and his wife Katie launched the restaurant in 2013, and since then it has expanded from its early roots as a seafood bar to a 35-seat restaurant and separate private dining room.
The couple moved to Padstow two years later to open a second site and now split their time between the two restaurants. Fish and shellfish arrive daily from fish markets and day boats in Devon and Cornwall, ensuring the freshest produce ends up on ever-changing menus.
Dishes might include Porthilly mussels, clams and manzanilla; ray wing with olives, chilli and agridulce; or a whole Padstow lobster with lime and coriander butter. The restaurant also runs seasonal oyster happy hours daily from 4.30pm to 6.30pm, during which time freshly shucked Porthilly oysters are served as they are or deep-fried with garlic crème fraîche.
- Prawn on the Lawn in Islington is a fishmonger and restaurant all rolled into one
Discreetly located in the pedestrianised Mayfair street between Regent Street and Piccadilly, Bentley’s opened in 1916 and for the past 14 years it has been run with great success by chef Richard Corrigan.
A fine-dining restaurant with a buzzy ground-floor oyster bar where you can sit at the marble counter and watch staff expertly shuck a vast range of seasonal native oysters, Bentley’s runs monthly oyster masterclasses where you can learn how to prepare your own, sample different varieties and sip a glass or two of wine. You even get your own shucking knife and recipe cards to take home.
- Sit at the marble counter and watch staff expertly shuck a vast range of native oysters at Bentley’s
Celebrity haunt Scott’s has been a resident of Mount Street since 1967 but it actually dates back to 1851 when it was opened as an oyster warehouse, making it one of London’s five oldest restaurants. This Mayfair establishment has welcomed the great and the good for decades, and it’s where James Bond creator Ian Fleming is said to have discovered his ‘shaken not stirred’ dry martini.
Since 2005, Scott’s has been owned by Richard Caring, who has retained the restaurant’s character, right down to the bowler-hatted doormen. Eat in either the oyster and champagne bar or the stylish dining room, where blackened miso salmon and goujons of Cornish sole and tartare sauce are among the signature dishes.
- Eat in either the oyster and champagne bar or the stylish dining room at Scott’s.
J Sheekey, Covent Garden
Dating from 1896, J Sheekey is located in the heart of West End theatreland so it comes as no surprise that the walls are adorned with portraits of celebrity clientele in the four interconnecting dining rooms.
Both the restaurant and its adjacent oyster bar serve an impressive choice of oysters and crustaceans, but the famous Sheekey’s fish pie, and monkfish and tiger prawn tikka masala remain firm favourites with the regulars.
- Sheekey’s fish pie, and monkfish and tiger prawn tikka masala remain firm favourites with the regulars.
Best seafood restaurants in the UK
The Scallop Shell, Bath
Garry Rosser opened The Scallop Shell in 2015, and since then it has scooped numerous awards for its fish and chips, and simple seafood dishes. It may be in central Bath but there is a distinctly beachy feel to the place, with a seaside palette, rope decorations and distressed wood panels. Informal and bustling, there’s an open, blue-tiled kitchen and a clawfoot bath filled with crushed ice and that day’s fish and seafood.
The sourcing is impeccable, whether it’s Weymouth Bay crab and Elberry Cove mussels, or Brixham hake and Dartmouth clams. The menu even names the farms supplying the potatoes for the chips. Those in the know ask for the lavish shellfish plate piled high with Dorset crab, prawns, langoustines, mussels, clams, oysters and razor clams.
The Fish House, Newquay
When chef Paul Harwood lived in London, he used to drive to Cornwall in his old VW Beetle to indulge his passion for surfing at Newquay, so he didn’t think twice when he had the chance to open his own restaurant close to the surf school at Fistral Beach. On the north coast of Cornwall, this relaxed beachside restaurant sources much of its fish and shellfish from day boats working out of nearby Newquay harbour.
Paul worked for Rick Stein for 14 years so he knows all about keeping things simple on the plate and letting the best produce shine. Typical dishes at The Fish House (which has already attracted the attention of Gordon Ramsay, who has a home nearby) include roasted half-shell scallops with serrano ham, red pepper, smoked paprika and panko crumb; and Sri Lankan prawn curry with dal and coconut sambal.
There has been a seafood restaurant called Angela’s on The Parade at Margate seafront for the past 60 years, but Lee Coad and his wife, Charlotte Forsdike, only became custodians of this local institution in 2017. It marks quite a career change for Lee, who used to be the art director of the Financial Times, but the couple have embraced their new lives as Kentish restaurateurs and, with the help of chef Rob Cooper, have attracted glowing reviews in their first year.
Two small dining rooms separated by a central kitchen, Angela’s is as no-frills as the menu, which prides itself on simplicity and minimal waste (even the tabletops have been fashioned out of recycled plastic bags). Plump Whitstable rock oysters, mussels with cider and garlic, whole roasted plaice and thornback ray with brown butter are just some of the reasons why Angela’s is still in rude health after more than half a century.
Clam & Cork, Doncaster
Open only at lunchtimes, this small seafood and champagne restaurant in the heart of Doncaster Market was launched in 2018 by chef Michael Price, who’s well known locally for his popular supper clubs. Clam & Cork hit the ground running when it received a rave review from Jay Rayner within months of opening, and tables are now in huge demand.
Working closely with the market’s long-serving shellfish retailer, Michael Berry, the menu is written around what arrives on the day. A typical lunch might include natural-smoked haddock, salmon and leek chowder or seared scallops with anchovy, mint, coriander and lime dressing, followed by crispy monkfish burger and hand-cut chips, or sea bass and white crab salad with brown crab mayonnaise.
Slap-bang on the harbour front at Aberystwyth, with sweeping views of Cardigan Bay, Pysgoty is owned by husband-and-wife team Craig and Rhiannon Edwards, who also run Jonah’s, the town’s only independent fishmonger. That means the kitchen never needs to worry about having a constant supply of local fish and shellfish, and although the menu takes a global influence with dishes such as tandoori monkfish medallions or moules marinières, chef Pawel Banaszynski flies the Welsh flag with roast cod, chorizo and laverbread risotto; and Cardigan Bay lobster with herb butter and chunky chips.
Gower Seafood Hut, The Mumbles
A converted horsebox trailer located on The Mumbles promenade, the Gower Seafood Hut was a runner-up in the Observer Food Monthly’s best cheap eats category thanks to pocket-friendly street-food snacks like cockle popcorn with laverbread mayonnaise.
It’s owned by Sarah Kift and Chris Price, who look to their Mediterranean holidays for inspiration – think Italian-style fritto misto of sardines, squid, whitebait, samphire and capers – but always using locally sourced fish from Swansea Bay and around the Gower coast.
Look out for weekend specials such as Never Mind the Scallops: queen scallops rolled in breadcrumbs and served with retro red cocktail sauce and a wedge of lemon. Hot seafood by the sea doesn’t get much better.
The Little Fish Market, Hove
With just 20 covers, one-man-band chef Duncan Ray’s diminutive restaurant certainly lives up to its name. But, what it lacks in space, it more than makes up for in quality, which should come as no surprise considering the fact that Duncan’s CV includes a stint at The Fat Duck and time spent working under Marco Pierre White and John Burton-Race.
Cooking single-handedly, with one person (the charming Rob Smith) working front of house, this might sound like a modest operation but the £69 no-choice five-course tasting menu displays plenty of ambition and talent, with dishes such as monkfish, mussel curry and apple followed by Gigha halibut, celeriac, seaweed potato and hispi cabbage.
Now in its 10th year, Crabshakk may be in landlocked Finnieston, part of Glasgow’s West End, but it serves some of the finest Scottish seafood. Grab a table next to grainy black-and-white photos of weather-beaten fishermen, and dig into platters of fruits de mer.
The oysters, langoustines, lobsters, crabs, mussels and scallops are at the core of the menu but the shellfish chowder, bisque and tempura squid with soy and coriander dipping sauce are among the big sellers.
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Port Isaac
He may have restaurants in London and Dubai, but the Cornish fishing village of Port Isaac is still the home of Nathan Outlaw’s flagship site. Awarded top spot in The Good Food Guide 2018 and 2019, this two-Michelin-star outfit serves a six-course seafood tasting menu, with standout dishes including salt cod, oxtail, sweetcorn and chilli; and turbot with squid, cep and hazelnut butter.
The Seahorse, Dartmouth
Chefs Mitch Tonks and Mat Prowse opened The Seahorse on the quayside at Dartmouth in 2008 and it quickly established itself as one of the UK’s go-to seafood restaurants.
Having celebrated its 10th birthday last year, it refuses to stand still and head chef Jake Bridgwood is now developing the menu with more seafood pasta and risotto dishes inspired by travels to Italy, Portugal and Spain, as well as Venetian-style bar food in lively Joe’s Bar, next door.
Wheelers Oyster Bar, Whitstable
Opened in 1856 by fisherman Richard Wheeler and his wife Mary-Ann, this legendary oyster bar has been run since the 70s by Delia Fitt, whose parents had it before her. The tiny restaurant recently underwent a refurbishment that more than doubled its covers to 40 diners per sitting.
Head chef Mark Stubbs has been in the kitchen for the past 22 years and, as well as Whitstable native and rock oysters, he also serves a menu of innovative seafood dishes.
The Seafood Restaurant, Padstow
When Rick Stein opened The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow back in 1975, he couldn’t have possibly imagined it would still be fully booked in 2019 and part of what has become a restaurant empire and global brand.
Stein may no longer be behind the stoves but his long-serving head chef Stephane Delourme still recreates classic dishes such as bouillabaisse of turbot, cod, sea bass, mussels and langoustines, or roast tronçon of wild turbot with hollandaise for those lucky enough to get a table.
Fresh from the sea, Port Isaac
Fisherman Calum Greenhalgh catches the shellfish, which he carries 100 metres from his boat, Mary D, to the café where his wife Tracey cooks it for lunch. At the top of the hill overlooking the harbour at Port Isaac, the aptly named Fresh From The Sea opened in 2010 and now attracts customers from as far afield as Australia and Canada. “We first opened thinking Tracey and I could run the place between us but now most days in the summer there are four members of staff on and an extra two people just to hand-pick the crab.”
Served on locally baked bread, perhaps accompanied by a glass of Padstow Brewery beer or Cornish Camel Valley wine, the crab sandwich (which local Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw claims to be the best he has ever tasted) and the lobster salad are safe bets. Other options include Porthilly oysters, homemade smoked mackerel pâté and toast, or a simple Davidstow cheddar cheese and chutney sandwich. freshfromthesea.co.uk
Dungeness Snack Shack, Dungeness
Right on the shingle beach at Dungeness, the Snack Shack is next to the Fish Hut, where the daily catch is sold. The view from the shack is across the beach and of the boats that supply both businesses daily.
The Shack opened in spring 2013 under Kelly Smith who was just returning to her job with Kent Police following maternity leave. Using her savings, she bought a catering trailer and set up at the weekends selling hot fish rolls.
Four years on and the menu at the Snack Shack has expanded, but it’s still driven by whatever the boats bring in – crab flatbreads and lobster rolls at this time of year. When they don’t have native lobsters, the £3.50 fisherman rolls (two fillets of that day’s catch cooked on the grill and served hot in a bun) and lemon sole flatbreads with chilli and lime, with beers from Romney Marsh Brewery, are always popular. dungenesssnackshack.net
Billy Winters, Weymouth
Run by oyster farmer Nigel Bloxham, who also owns the Crab House Café at nearby Wyke Regis, Billy Winters comprises three converted shipping containers on the beach overlooking the white cliffs of Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. With chefs Tom Kerridge and Mark Hix among its many fans, Billy Winters is open all day throughout the year (except January), come rain or shine.
There are breakfasts of Dorset-made chorizo hash, and lunches of wood-fired sourdough pizzas, crisp mackerel baps and the best-selling vegetarian beetroot burger with chilli, tomato and ginger ketchup. Foraged ingredients from the local beaches also make an appearance – the Salty Fingers margarita cocktail contains sea blite (an evergreen shrub) from the shore outside.
All the meat and fish is from Dorset and if the kitchen has to look further for ingredients then it’s from within the West Country, including rope-grown mussels from Fowey in Cornwall.
Ferry Bridge Boatyard, Portland Road, Weymouth.
Lobster Shack, North Berwick
The Lobster Shack is situated on the quayside at North Berwick, overlooking the boats in the harbour. Open between April and October, virtually everything on the menu is sourced locally, whether it’s lobsters and crabs caught by fisherman Jack Dale in the Firth of Forth, fish from Musselburgh, smoked salmon from the Belhaven Smokehouse or fruit and vegetables from nearby farms.
Although grilled lobster is the main draw of this waterfront shack (the clue’s in the title), the fish and chips are the stuff of local legend, as is the crab and prawn cocktail, the mussels marinière and the seafood scotch egg. A chilled glass of locally made Mutley’s lemonade or a bottle of Intergalactic – dry-hop lager from Belhaven Brewery in nearby Dunbar – goes down rather nicely, too.
The Crab Shed, Isle of Wight
Amanda Wheeler and her husband Jim started out selling crab pasties in 2002 as a way of diversifying from the family fishing business. Jim and his brother Mark are from a long line of local shellfishermen that dates back to the 15th century. Open seasonally from April to October, the Crab Shed occupies a spot in Steephill Cove, one mile south of Ventnor.
It overlooks the beach with bench-style seating, where you can enjoy those honed pasties, fresh mackerel ciabattas and crab burgers from a short menu featuring seafood caught by the owners themselves.
The Hidden Hut, Porthcurnick Beach, Cornwall
On a National Trust-owned coastal path perched above the dunes of Porthcurnick beach, The Hidden Hut can be reached only by foot. The seating is outside, but that doesn’t stop thousands of people flocking here each summer.
There’s a small menu chalked up daily – sometimes twice a day during busy periods – and on a typical lunchtime, there’s usually a soup and a curry on the outdoor stove, local fish or meat cooked over wood on the charcoal grill and served with salad and flatbread; and freshly baked pasties and sausage rolls. Look out for St Mawes smoked haddock chowder, pasties (naturally), and regular feast nights, which can draw hundreds, some of whom camp overnight nearby.
“We are very lucky to have such great produce on our doorstep and it’s not just the seafood either – the beef and lamb are reared in the fields behind us and the heritage vegetables are grown in an allotment just up the road,” says chef co-owner Simon Stallard. “Thinking about it, if it’s not actually from the sea, most of the produce has a sea view!”
The Company Shed, West Mersea, Essex
Separated from the River Blackwater by a boat yard, the Company Shed was opened 30 years ago by Heather Haward, who started by selling shrimp, crab and oysters through the window. It progressed to having counters inside selling fish and shellfish to take away, then one table so people could eat there.
Now run by Heather’s daughter Caroline, there are more tables and a proper menu, but it remains a no-frills place with dishes such as mussels steamed with onion, garlic and cider, and fried spicy crabcakes with sweet chilli dip. If you’re hungry after your meal, you can, of course, still grab fresh local fish, oysters, lobsters and whelks to take home.
Crab Shack, Bryher, Isles of Scilly
Just 10 yards from the beach, the majority of visitors to The Crab Shack arrive by boat from the neighbouring islands of Tresco and St Mary’s. Since 2014, this seasonal venue (it opens Tuesday to Thursday evenings between May and September) has showcased fresh Isles of Scilly shellfish and has just three dishes on the menu – Bryher crab (medium, large or ‘monster’ size), mussels and scallops – served informally in Portuguese cataplanas.
The Boathouse, Isle of Gigha
The Boathouse restaurant on the Isle of Gigha is set in one of the most stunning locations off the West coast of Scotland. Slap-bang on the beach, it was taken over at the end of 2016 by former customer James Clark and his family, who relocated to the island from Glasgow.
The family’s links to the area was their nearby caravan that had made The Boathouse their weekend sanctuary. The menu showcases the abundant local seafood including halibut, lobster and oysters; local fishermen land the seafood in the morning and it’s on the menu by the same evening.
Words by Mark Taylor
Photographs by Kelly Smith, Lara Jane Thorpe, VisitScotland, Amanda Wheeler, Sally Mitchell, Red Air Drones, Rachel Palmer, Warren Draper, Carol Ann Peacock, Kate Whitaker, Ed Ovenden, Paul Winch-Furness, Jean Cazals, Justin De Souza