Tuesday 15 May 2007

The Riverside, West Bay

Its not everyday that your 82 year old grandmother offers to take you and your boyfriend out to a highly acclaimed restaurant by the sea. As you can imagine... I jumped at the offer.
Over the last 5 years, The Riverside at West Bay, Bridport, Dorset http://www.thefishrestaurant-westbay.co.uk/ has received high praise from a prestigious array of critics. Situated on the water, adjacent to the working harbour and producing superb fresh fish, the restaurant has a great deal to offer. From outside, one might be mistaken that you were approaching a sea side cafe, however, as the waft of fresh fish and garlic fills your nostrils it is clear your chosen well.

Since it was the Bank Holiday the place was full to the rafters with friends and family all enjoying a delicious Sunday Lunch. With the room swamped in natural light and the waves casually lapping against the walls it really felt like we were on holiday.

To our delight, with the exception of 3 dishes, everything on the menu was from the ocean. To start I opted for a firm favourite in my book; seared scallops with mint pea puree. Yum. Three plump scallops, cooked to perfection were nestled on a smooth bright green pile of pea goo. The balance of texture and flavour was excellent. Granny followed suit and also ordered scallops to start. Browny however, decided to be more conventional and went for a sublime dressed crab. On numerous occasions at Borough Market we have marvelled over the splendor of the heroic Dorset crab..... and now here it was on the menu, 20 yards away from where it was caught. Simplicity was the key here. Fresh juicy white and brown meat married together with homemade mayonnaise; Truly delicious.

For main course we all chose an entire fish to devour, grilled; 2 John Dory and 1 Dover sole. Due to the attentive service, minutes after our plates were cleared 3 more arrived at our table, 2 of which accommodated a hideous looking specimen... this was the John Dory in all its glory! The Dover Sole was presented in a classic style and tasted as good as ever. In comparsion, the JD was unusually sweet in flavour, however the fish was so succulent and tasty it still proved to be a winner.

As I put my knife and fork together as a natural cue to the end of our delicious lunch, I was somewhat alarmed when Granny insisted we had a pudding. In my effort to be relatively good, I chose an extremely tasty roasted pear with pecan stuffing plus toffee apple ice cream. Again the flavour and contrasting textures created a delightful pud. Granny once again decided to play safe and chose the same as Browny; a pistachio cheesecake. I say a cheesecake.... a massive creamy / crunchy balonge is a more apt visual. Double cheesecakes have a reputation of being wicked and very moreish. After 4 mouthfuls Browny was defeated. Granny on the other hand was on flying form. She miraculously managed to speak no stop throughout the entire meal AND finished every last speak of her gigantic slice of cheesecake... What a talent!

As we drove home, we both reflected on what a memorable afternoon we had had. The Riverside is a place you could take anyone to; from your 2 year old nephew to your 80 year old grandmother! Simple, quality and delicious fish by the sea.

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