Chargrilled oysters from London restaurant Decatur

The UK’s best seafood restaurants

British seafood is second to none. Enjoy the best the UK has to offer this summer with our extensive guide to the best places for oysters, fish ’n’ chips and more

From trending dishes to classic fish restaurants, traditional chippies to cutting-edge kitchens, Britain is packed with places mining that briny bounty. From the city to the coast, dive in!


The UK’s best seafood restaurants

Finest fruits de mer:
Bentley’s, London

A historic retreat, all pressed linen and chilled chablis, whose royal shellfish platter is entirely sourced on British and Irish coasts. £100; bentleys.org


Peach by the beach:
@The Hatch, Latimer’s, near Sunderland

Visit the take-out window at this fishmonger and smokery for fish pasties, chowders and lobster picnic boxes to enjoy on Whitburn Beach. From £2.50; latimers.com


Heads up:
Fallow, London

Forget mere cod cheeks. The whole cod’s head is where it’s at: aromatically steamed, Hunan-style at A Wong (awong.co.uk) and dramatically slathered in sriracha butter at Fallow. Large plates from £12; fallowrestaurant.com


Beyond cod and salmon:
Fin Boys, Cambridge

This forward-thinking fishmonger and diner pushes fin-to-skin cookery, dry chilled storage (“ice speeds up degeneration”) and underrated, sustainable fish in plates of gurnard ceviche or pollock with chicken gravy, leeks, shimeji mushrooms and tarragon. Large plates from £15; fin-boys.com


Mumbai-to-Goa by sea:
Pali Hill, London

India’s coastal cookery resonates in ex-River Café chef Avinash Shashidhara’s dishes, such as banana leaf steamed sea bass or langoustines in wild garlic, ajwain, ginger, chilli and lemon. Big plates from £12; palihill.co.uk


Oyster ahoy:
The Oyster Shack, Bigbury, Devon

Colourful Avon Estuary joint where Cornish rock oysters are innovatively garnished in the likes of foraged sandwort and rose vinegar. Mains from £14; oystershack.co.uk


Ultimate freshness:
Live Seafood, Manchester

You can get the experience of China’s seafood restaurants, where you choose dinner from tanks of live fish, in Manchester, too. “Live Seafood offers a cornucopia of fish and shellfish – intricately sliced, deep-fried sea bass or crabs in garlic and spring onion – at great value market prices,” says fan Thom Hetherington, organiser of the Northern Restaurant and Bar Show. Mains from around £15; liveseafood.co.uk


Pop-up shrimp feast:
Decatur, London

Check Decatur’s socials for dates when you can enjoy its hot, spicy Louisiana-style shrimp boils: garlic-butter-slicked feasts of seafood, corn, potatoes and smoked andouille sausage. £17.50 per person; decaturlondon.com


Much-loved Caribbean flavours:
Etta’s Seafood Kitchen, London

Rated for Brixton chef Etta Burrell’s ackee and salt fish, seafood curry and sea bass with green banana, sweet potatoes, okra, tomato and pumpkin. Mains from £8.95; ettaskitchen.com


Fantastic fish & chips:

Crisp, lip-smacking batter, pearly fish and perfect chips are not easy to find. But we return again and again to these reliably brilliant five: Nottingham’s The Cod’s Scallops; Exeter’s Fish Shed; Whitby’s The Magpie Café; Penrith’s Angel Lane Chippie,
and Colmans of South Shields.


Summer’s hottest table:
Prawn on the Farm, Padstow

Stellar seafood and Camel Estuary views will make Prawn on the Lawn’s alfresco pop-up one of summer’s hottest tables. Linger over Cornish lobster with lime and coriander butter or wild bass and sole, sold by the kilo and cooked in Chinese, Thai or Euro styles. Plates from £7.50; prawnonthelawn.com


Piscine pilgrimage:
Scrabster Seafood Bar, Caithness

Jim Cowie has forged a reputation as one of Britain’s foremost seafood chefs, a man intimately in tune with the seasons and fish sustainability thanks to the day boat captains who land their catch almost at his door. “I’m blessed to have such a great relationship with fishermen I’ve lived and worked with all my life,” says Jim, a one-time fish trader. At this chip shop and restaurant (next door to his fine dining space, Captain’s Galley), Jim’s menus change daily. Look out for his blackened Cajun-style saithe with saffron mash and succotash. Mains from £18; scrabsterseafoodbar.co.uk


The future: ageing fish
Ikoyi, London

Chefs are currently all over Japanese dry-ageing techniques for fish, said to intensify flavour and create meatier, creamier textures. At West African restaurant, Ikoyi, chef Jeremy Chan has been serving five-day-aged turbot with preserved beetroot, palm wine, passion berry and ceps, alongside creative piscine plates such as octopus and malt XO with yeasted béarnaise. Tasting menu, £150; ikoyilondon.com


The creative catch:
Fish & Forest, York

A creator of tuna bresaola, trout pastrami and the mackerel kiev, chef Stephen Andrews is pushing the piscine boundaries, not least in minimising waste and foregrounding sustainability. Pollock wellington, anyone? From £21.50; fishandforestrestaurant.com


Afternoon sea:
Fishworks, London

From rollmops to lobster rolls, Covent Garden’s Fishworks now serves a deep-sea-themed afternoon tea. £25 per person; fishworks.co.uk


 

Next-level nautical adventures:
Folium, Birmingham

Chef Ben Tesh uses meticulously sourced fish in imaginative ways, such as beef-fat-cooked turbot with potato hollandaise and Arbroath smokie broth. His salt ’n’ vinegar cod’s skin, fried to look exactly like an oyster shell, served with oyster tartare, is a visually striking taste sensation. Menus from £60; restaurantfolium.com

Folium’s cod’s skin on a wooden table

Five must-try fish dishes for summer 2021

• Saltfish accra fritters with coriander tamarind chutney, Caribe’, London. Mains from £10.50; caribeuk.com

• Japanese-inspired chawanmushi-style langoustine baked custard, Alchemilla, Nottingham. Menus from £65; alchemillarestaurant.uk

• Fish brioche sandwich with seaweed tartar and brown crab rarebit, Native at Browns, London. Dishes from £8; nativerestaurant.co.uk

• Sea bream ceviche with sweet potato, celery and tiger’s milk, Chakana, Birmingham. Mains from £14; chakana-restaurant.co.uk

• James Sommerin’s lobster bisque with fennel and star anise, The Shed, Barry, Wales. Mains from £16; theshedbarry.co.uk


Hot seafood spots at the water’s edge

The Company Shed, Mersea Island, Essex

Seafood hub that, September to April, sells prized Colchester native oysters. Oysters from £2.20; thecompanyshed.co.uk

Mickeys Beach Bar, Exmouth

Michael Caines’ new family-friendly beachside restaurant, boasting Lyme Bay views and coal-grilled fish. Mains from £14; mickeysbeach.co.uk

Lobster & Môr, Little Haven, Pembrokeshire

Deli and craft store owned by fishermen Danny Curtis, known for takeaway pots of crab meat and lobster brioche rolls. Sandwiches £5.50; lobsterandmor.co.uk

Riley’s Fish Shack, King Edward’s Bay, Tynemouth

 Modish riffs on chargrilled fish, on the beach. Mains from around £12; rileysfishshack.com

Wheeler’s Crab Shed, Steephill Cove, Isle of Wight

Beach takeaway making sensational crab and mackerel pasties from seafood landed in the cove. £5.70; steephillcove-isleofwight.co.uk

The Sustainable Restaurant Association’s checklist:

• Look for alternatives to the big five: cod, haddock, tuna, salmon and prawns. Try crab or mussels, swap haddock for pollock.

• Get the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Fish Guide app for sustainable info on your phone.

• Don’t be afraid to ask staff where fish is from and how it’s been caught.

• Avoid any fish rated red by the MCS, including European eel, described as critically endangered.


Five restaurants with a flair for fish

Creel Caught, Edinburgh

Chef Gary Maclean’s celebration of Scottish seafood at Bonnie & Wild food hall. Think langoustine with lemon, kombu seaweed butter and fennel salad. Mains from £14; creelcaught.com

The Sea, the Sea, Hackney, London

Counter dining spin-off from the Chelsea fishmonger and seafood bar, known for day-boat South West fish, dry-ageing and general contemporary seafood wizardry. Plates from £13; theseathesea.net

Ugly Butterfly, near St Ives, Cornwall

Adam Handling’s ultra-sustainable restaurant (“There is no such thing as food waste”) relocates to Carbis Bay this month. Seafood ranges from sea urchin snacks to potted Hale Estuary razor clams. Mains from £28; uglybutterfly.co.uk

The Double Red Duke, Clanfield

Live-fire cooking is the USP at this Cotswolds pub. Expect spit-roasted turbot with lemon ketchup or wood-roasted scallops and garlic butter. Large plates from £12; countrycreatures.com

Temaki, London

Brixton handroll bar whose chef Shaulan Steenson previously worked in Tokyo sushi temples such as Hakkoku. Check its salmon-skin crisps, too. Rolls from £5.50; temaki.co.uk

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