There’s nothing new about small‑plate restaurants; Mediterranean cultures have been doing it for centuries. However, the trend for sociable feasting where everyone digs in is dethroning the traditional three‑course formation. Kathryn Lewis reveals some of the best venues where you can lean into this laid‑back dining style
It can be hard to keep up with the Bristol food scene, but if there’s only space for one new opening on your 2023 hit list make it Cor.
The neighbourhood restaurant on North Street is the first solo project from chef Mark Chapman and wife Karen. Before opening Cor, Mark was executive chef at a string of the city’s most exciting restaurants including Gambas, Cargo Cantina, and Masa + Mezcal.
At Cor, he blends his broad experience with flavours of the Mediterranean to create a sprawling menu of small plates. Sustainability is also a big driver for the chef, so seasonal ingredients sourced from small‑scale producers usually take the lead.
The estuary town of Dartmouth isn’t short on fabulous places to dine while overlooking the water, but those in the know eschew those views for a table at this backstreet bistro.
Born in Paris to Italian parents and trained in the UK, chef owner Luca Berardino merely has to retrace his roots to find inspiration for the European menus at Andria. Luca has taken the small‑plates format and refined it, serving a daily changing tasting menu where guests are encouraged to share a few dishes at each course.
Given its location, it’s no surprise that the menu swims with seafood from Brixham Fish Market. Dishes such as monkfish with chicken jus and hispi cabbage are supplemented with meat and vegetarian dishes like confit leeks with capocollo, pear and smoked butter sauce.
Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, Port Isaac
You’ll need to book in advance to secure one of the seven tables at Nathan Outlaw’s tiny 20‑seat restaurant in the heart of Port Isaac, but forward planners will be rewarded with a phenomenal feast of unique seafood dishes.
Nathan and co are serious about sustainability, only sourcing native fish species from local inshore dayboats. The Port Isaac fishermen’s haul is transformed into a set menu of small plates designed to be shared.
The entire experience is attractive, intimate, casual and – thanks to Nathan’s determinedly pared‑back cooking which puts all the focus on the ingredients – pleasingly rustic.
Located just metres from Newlyn’s bustling fish market and co‑owned by an experienced fishmonger, Argoe is an under‑the‑radar find for beautifully unfussy seafood.
Its small plate set‑up allows diners to explore all corners of the menu, which is split into snacks, plates, grilled dishes and sides. Naturally, fish takes the lion’s share of the list, with the best of the local dayboats’ catch earning top billing.
Order a glass of minimal‑intervention wine and tuck into an array of dishes such as deep‑fried anchovies with caper mayo, and ling with lardo and roasted garlic.
Lilac, Lyme Regis
Fans of the innovative tasting menus at Robin Wylde in Lyme Regis can experience a more relaxed, bite‑size version of Harriet Mansell’s cooking at its sister restaurant Lilac.
Down the road from the flagship venue, the small‑plates restaurant and wine bar has the same ultra‑seasonal ethos but in a more laid‑back format and environment.
The evening line‑up evolves daily and covers everything from delicious morsels to pick at to dishes for the table such as Balwyn hogget ragu with roasted aubergine and ‘fetish’, and pan‑fried hake with creamed spinach and pangrattato.
Like 5 of the best small-plate restaurants? Check out our roundup seafood restaurants in Cornwall of here.
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