The best places to eat, stay, shop and visit in the South West

The Galley, Topsham

In a restaurant climate where menus are super-sized and chefs feel pressure to provide ‘something for everyone’, the modest approach and fish-focused line-up at The Galley is a refreshing hit of sea air, writes Kathryn Lewis

It makes sense that this popular seafood restaurant pitched on the banks of the River Exe is thriving.

Sure, a skilled home cook can pull off seared scallops or even do a decent smoked haddock kedgeree these days. But pan-roasting a seasoned fillet of turbot to crisp-on-the-outside delightfully-flaky-on-the-inside perfection (not to mention the accompanying breaded Fowey mussels, butter-soft cider-braised celeriac fondant and tangy thyme yogurt)? Best leave that to the pros.

And the team at The Galley certainly know their way around a fish. It’s why most of the five-dish menu is delivered daily from Brixham market, with just a smattering of meat and veg to keep the kitchen’s shipmates on their toes.

VISIT for a happy – if unconventional – marriage of old school hospitality and avant-garde cooking.

Mastering his game at The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, restaurateur Nigel Mitchell excels in slick service and charm. He’s passed on the skills to his team, who are poised to whisk away coats on arrival, artfully lay napkins on laps and appear out of nowhere whenever wine gets near the bottom of the glass.

If the service is timeless, new head chef Jason Mead’s cooking brings a contemporary flavour to the proceedings: smoked guinea fowl dons a shallot and blood orange dressing, meaty pollock swaps beer batter for prosecco and a classic crème caramel comes topped with torched lime.

DON’T VISIT with a large crowd. The restaurant – set within a charmingly wonky 18th century townhouse – is exceedingly intimate. Save the trip for dinner for two.

WE LIKED Nigel’s spot-on wine pairings – while the menu is concise, the wine list is anything but. There’s a good selection by the glass, a couple of local options and, most importantly, some fabulous fizzes to mark an occasion.

Insider's tip

The set lunch menu is a steal at £22 for three courses.

More reviews

Most read