Seven of the best fish and seafood restaurants in the UK
The top culinary spots to get your fresh-from-the-sea fix
With so much water surrounding us, it’s no surprise that Brits love seafood.
From a trusty chippy selling battered cod and haddock to restaurants serving five-star fish, seafood is bountiful across the nation.
Here we pick out some of the best places to get your fresh-from-the-sea fix.
This West End institution takes its name from market trader Josef Sheekey, who, in the 1890s, was granted permission by Lord Salisbury to serve fish and seafood in St Martin’s Court provided he supply after-theatre meals to Salisbury’s guests. More than a century on, it remains an established favourite with the capital’s glitterati, who you can often spot slurping oysters or tucking into the famous fish pie post performance. In 2008 it expanded to include the J Sheekey Atlantic Bar next door for a slightly less formal experience, featuring a buzzing open kitchen and ample outdoor seating for relaxed al fresco dining.
28-32 St Martin's Court, London, WC2N 4AL; j-sheekey.co.uk
A once-thriving port town, recent years have seen Folkestone undergo considerable regeneration, bringing with it restaurants such as the acclaimed Rocksalt, which opened its doors in 2011. The focus here is on the abundance of top-notch ingredients found on the south coast. Unsurprisingly this includes a changing line-up of fresh fish, as well as locally-sourced smoked and cured options. You can even see the boats that probably snared that day’s catch from the stunning dining room and bar fronting onto the harbour.
4-5 Fish Market, Folkestone, CT19 6AA; rocksaltfolkestone.co.uk
The Salt Room, Brighton
This modern British restaurant champions the best of Sussex seafood, sitting in an enviable seafront location opposite Brighton’s West Pier, with the views best enjoyed from the relaxed terrace. A signature is its wide selection of fish and meats is the “surfboard” of grilled and steamed shellfish.
106 King’s Road, Brighton, BN1 2FU; saltroom-restaurant.co.uk
The Jetty, Christchurch
It’s hard to think of a destination where you have a closer connection to the food on your plate than The Jetty. The restaurant sits right on the water’s edge overlooking Mudeford Quay from which much of its ingredients are sourced. Here Alex Aitken, a former trawler man turned Michelin-starred chef, turns this local bounty into a delicious “catch of the day” menu. Elsewhere, the influences diversify, from tacos stuffed with crab, scallop and ceviche to Asian-style shrimp and pork dumplings.
95 Mudeford, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 3NT; thejetty.co.uk
Photo by Justin de Souza
The Coal Shed, Brighton
Although not solely a fish restaurant (pun both intended and regretted) and despite its steakhouse aesthetics, The Coal Shed has plenty to lure in the serious lover of seafood. Starters include market oysters, chalkstream trout, grilled gurnard fillet and scallops in shell. While whole black bream and roasted sussex cod feature on the main course menu. Having started life in Brighton, The Coal Shed also has a second branch in London, near Tower Bridge.
8 Boyce’s Street, Brighton, BN1 1AN; coalshed-restaurant.co.uk
Bonnie Gull, London
The first Bonnie Gull “seafood shack” really did look as if it had been picked up from the coast - Southwold, perhaps - and reeled in to a street corner in Fitzrovia, where its driftwood furniture, gingham tablecloths and striped awnings are at once both rakish and nostalgic. Grilled sardines are a punchy treat, with their salsa of coriander and mango, while the whole plaice provides more than enough fish, delicately flavoured with lemon and olive oil, for at least two diners. The Fitzrovia menu is divided more traditionally into starters and main courses: roast cod from Looe with glazed pig cheek is a highlight of the latter.
21a Foley Street, Fitzrovia, London W1W 6DS; bonniegull.com
Prawn on the Lawn, London
The brilliantly-named Prawn on the Lawn is not just a restaurant but also a fishmonger. This means the menu changes on a daily basis depending on what fish have been caught. Sample small plates include the favourite Prawn on the Lawn as well as Porthilly mussels with clams and manzanilla, and cod with Sri Lankan black curry. If you’re hungry then why not get a fish for the table? Served whole or filleted and cooked classic, Thai or Chinese, the choice of fish include John Dory, wild sea bass, brill and plaice.
292-294 St Paul’s Road, London N1 2LH; prawnonthelawn.com