This Dorset classic received a contemporary revamp last year when a new captain took to the helm. Thankfully, loyal patrons haven’t had to fish for fresh eating inspiration as The Riverside‘s mastery of molluscs, freshwater fish and seafood is as prized a catch as ever, discovers Kathryn Lewis
When the Watsons decided to sell their revered West Bay restaurant after 50 years, it was fitting that they kept it in the family – well, sort of.
Starting out as the spud boy at 13 and working his way up to a couple of decades as manager, Neil Chilcott became the proud owner of this shrine to seafood in 2016, continuing to clock up the years with his team of longstanding staff.
VISIT for a lazy afternoon cracking shells, scoffing lobster and sipping champagne from a table overlooking the River Brit.
The skyscraper shellfish platters are a big hit with Dorset day-trippers, though it’s the daily specials that best showcase the kitchen’s handiwork. Designing a menu each morning based on the day’s haul, head chef Tony Shaw pairs the local catch with contemporary flavours to create bold and beautifully presented dishes.
Sommelier Joe Taylor curates an impressive wine list – heavy on the whites, natch – to complement, with specials added each month to match seasonal plates.
DON’T VISIT if you’re not up for fish. There are slim pickings for meat lovers, although you’ll find a decent number of veggie options such as panfried halloumi with beetroot relish.
WE LIKED the chefs’ playfulness with flavours. Warm walnut and fig loaf served with the purple-hued salmon gravlax was immensely moreish, as was a springy basil and lemon sponge with creamy blueberry mousse.
Our fave? A sweet ‘n’ salty combination of crisp pancetta, vibrant broad beans, pickled shallots and razor clams with panfried turbot. Pure piscatorial pleasure …
INSIDER’S TIP Look out for weekly themed tasting evenings each Thursday until December.
What we ate (lunch)
Starter Blackberry cured gravlax, pickled beetroot, walnut and fig bread
Main Panfried turbot, razor clams stuffed with pancetta, broad beans and pickled shallots, black garlic puree
Dessert Blueberry mousse, basil and lemon sponge, balsamic reduction, raspberries
Three course lunch from £26
Dig out the CV and start polishing the covering letter, after lunch at Yeo Valley Canteen you’ll want to make this your staff canteen, says Kathryn Lewis