There’s no question that the South West of England is one of the most desirable locations in the whole country, offering residents and visitors everything from beaches, historical attractions, culturally rich cities, and also a whole host of wonderful places to eat. Thanks to its blend of country and seaside, the South West has a truly unique vibe to it and this is certainly translated over to the restaurants that populate it. From country pubs to beach-side cafes, from city restaurants to seafood marvels, there’s a great deal to enjoy. Those visiting the area, perhaps after picking up your newly acquired used car, approved by Mercedes, from a local dealership, might not be as familiar with what’s on offer as the locals, so to help them out, we’ve put this guide to the best restaurants in South West England. We think that we’ve assembled quite the selection!
On the Waterfront
Open for both lunch and dinner, On the Waterfront will prove to be a tremendously enjoyable dining destination for those in the Exeter area, whether visiting or living locally. Serving top quality and locally sourced cuisine to go along with the finest pints of local ale, this friendly restaurant really ticks all the boxes. Speaking about what guests can look forward to, and delving into their excellent menu, On the Waterfront told us:
“We have been an Exeter staple for the last 30+ years, being well known for our pizzas which are served uniquely in wicker baskets. Our wonderful location on the Quay means you can enjoy your meal overlooking the beautiful River Exe, all washed down with locally sourced drinks, too. We offer full table service in our restaurants and can cater for parties of up to 100 people, however for those wanting a more relaxed atmosphere we always have walk-in tables available overlooking the quayside and in our bar area.”
“Our 16” dustbin-lid and 30” pizzas are most popular for those who are looking to share (or who are very hungry!). On top of this, we have an extensive menu serving burgers, tapas, salads, fish dishes and mains, so there is something for everyone to enjoy. We also pride ourselves on our ability to cater to those with dietary requirements, such as gluten-free or vegan guests.”
Next up we have two perfect options for those near Port Isaac from Michelin-star winning chef Nathan Outlaw. Both Restaurants, Nathan Outlaw and Outlaw’s Fish kitchen, are two of the finest dining establishments one could hope to find in the South West and are, as a result, must-include establishments on this list. We were able to hear from the team behind both restaurants about the joys of dining with them, as well as a tease about the menus available:
“Make no mistake, Nathan Outlaw is seafood cookery. His dedication over the years to understanding the ocean that surrounds us, and the plentiful nourishment it provides, singles him out as the leading authority on seafood cuisine in the UK today. Both his restaurants in Port Isaac are a testament to his experience of and passion for seafood. His loyal and equally passionate team, together forming a ‘Band of Outlaw’s,’ are truly on a mission to put seafood on the map.”
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw
“Restaurant Nathan Outlaw is situated at the top of Port Isaac overlooking the rugged North Cornish coastline. Holders of 2 Michelin stars for eight years and recognised as the UK’s best restaurant in The Good Food Guide 2018, the restaurant exclusively serves a seafood tasting menu which highlights the finest sustainable seafood caught off the Cornish coast by small day boats. Nathan Outlaw’s simple and honest approach to seafood cookery, along with an unwavering commitment to sourcing the finest ingredients are showcased across his six-course menu. His staff, both restaurant and kitchen, who have served by his side for many years now, live and breathe hospitality and embody Nathan’s quest to create a space where guests feel welcomed and inspired.
“What to expect? Unpretentious, non-nonsense masterclass in seafood cookery by a team that wholeheartedly believe in what they’re doing.”
Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen
“Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen is located within a 15th-century fisherman’s cottage, just off the harbour at the bottom of Port Isaac. Opened in 2013, and awarded 1 Michelin stars in the same year, the menu continues to offer unique dishes created from the freshest seafood landed from the surrounding waters each day. The kitchen, led by Head Chef Tim Barnes (an Outlaw for 7 years), prepares small, original and delicious seafood plates cooked to order in true Nathan Outlaw style. You can’t help but feel like you’re in the freshest seafood restaurant going, as the small, 8 table dining room is constantly interrupted by the noise of the lively fishing harbour on its doorstep.
“What to expect? Fresh fish, Blues and Rhythm, lots of happy people.”
If you’re in the Plymouth area, perhaps when visiting our nearby dealership, sitting down to enjoy a delicious meal at The Mission is wholly recommended. Located on Palace Street, The Mission is set within a beautiful historic building that acts as the perfect venue for indulging in the best British cuisine. Perfect for a romantic dinner or a family get together, The Mission is truly able to cater to all requirements, serving up dishes such as slow-cooked pork belly, beer battered fish, Devon mussels, and a top-tier selection of locally sourced meat from Plymouth butchers.
Telling us why they believe The Mission to be such a must-visit location in South West England, the team behind the restaurant said: “Half the fun of eating at The Mission is discovering its beauty; by weaving your way through the cobbled side streets away from the hustle and bustle of modern Plymouth, you find yourself in the quiet and attractive Sir John Hawkins Square. Even though it is only a short stroll from both the historic waterfront and the city centre, you feel like you have wandered into days gone by, with the enchanting Merchants House sharing the vista and the impressive history that is carried in the air.
“This 19th century Thomas Mission Hall, with its high ceilings, stained glass windows and aromatic smells from the kitchen, is the perfect place to settle for a flavoursome, satisfying and well accomplished British cuisine. A truly unique venue in Plymouth where you can eat, drink and relax, assured that you will receive fresh ingredients and a service which is second to none.”
The Jack in the Green
Image credit: Well Seasoned PR
Exeter’s The Jack in the Green is a traditional pub experience in the South West and one of only two restaurants in the city to have been awarded Michelin’s award for good food at reasonable prices. Bringing the best locally sourced ingredients and creating a pub menu to rival the best restaurants, it’s hardly surprising that The Jack in the Green is as popular as it is. Their current menu features highlights such as roast cod loin, cider braised pork belly with apple butter sauce, Malaysian chicken curry, and fresh fish pie with Montgomery cheddar mash. The options are certainly extensive at this delightful pub and to help set the scene further, the team at The Jack in the Green spoke to us about what they believe makes them so beloved:
“The Jack in the Green is a family run pub/restaurant that first opened its doors in May 1992. From day one we set out to be different from everyone else and to offer exceptional value for money. ‘Sophisticated simplicity’ sums up the style of our food, which also includes a selection of sensibly priced pub classics done well. Every dish is seasonal, the wine list runs to just over 100 different bottles and outside is a stylish courtyard for dining alfresco in the summer.
“There’s a proud pedigree behind the team at the Jack and these days we are considered something of a Devon institution! Matthew has been running the kitchen for 25 years and our appetite for providing great food and good hospitality is sharper than ever. As a venue, the Jack can also host wedding receptions, corporate meetings, private dining, celebrations of life, and breakfast meetings…… if we can, we will.”
Crab House Café
Image credit: Crab House Café
Situated on Chesil Beach in Dorset, in a picturesque location overlooking the water, Crab House Café is a fun and charming eatery that acts as the perfect beach-side dining destination. Always replete with happy families enjoying a nice meal and a fond favourite of locals, Crab House Café has many winning facets, not least of which is having their very own Portland Oyster Bed, allowing the diners to enjoy fresh oysters within minutes of them being plucked from the water. Specialising in all manner of seafood, guests can also look forward to delicious local crabs (a huge favourite among the café’s regulars and pictured at the head of this article).
Crab House Café described to us in further detail about what makes them so special: “To try and explain what makes the Crab House Cafe such a wonderful restaurant to eat at isn’t particularly tricky; With its breath-taking views over Chesil Beach in Dorset and its very own oyster beds just a stone’s throw away, there isn’t much not to like about its location. But it’s not just a great setting that makes it so special, it’s the relaxed vibe that owner Nigel Bloxham has aimed to create.
Image credit: Crab House Café
“The wooden shack building, with pink parasols in the summer and a hat bar, as well as heated, covered outside areas for the winter, complete with blankets for a cosy night looking at the stars – it really is perfect whatever the weather. But it’s the food that brings customers from near and far. Fresh seafood local to our waters, sourced straight from the fisherman themselves, makes everything that is served extra special, with the menu often changing twice daily due to this. There’s a concerted effort to ensure ingredients are sustainable and carefully matched to the season.
“There’s something to tempt everyone on the menu, from the more nervous fish eater who would like a fillet to the more adventurous diner wishing to tackle a whole crab, being provided with a hammer, cracker, pick, bucket and a much-needed bib! If choices such as turbot steak poached in a saffron cream with mussels, cod filet roasted with a herb and cumin crumb, tomato stew or mackerel roasted whole and stuffed with beetroot and goats cheese don’t get your mouth watering, we don’t know what will! This isn’t to say that the dessert and wine list aren’t full of delectable choices either! Expect excellent customer service, with a friendly, laid back approach, which will leave you wanting to return, just make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment as this gem in the South-West is hard to beat!”
The Treby Arms
Image credit: The Treby Arms
The Treby Arms in South Devon’s Plympton, has become known as a beloved destination for everyone from young families to couples in their 80s. This pub and restaurant is found in a lovely rural village called Sparkwell and has a historic legacy, dating all the way back to 1750, sustaining a reputation as a premium village pub over the years. Attracting visitors from near and far thanks to its welcoming atmosphere and first-class hospitality, there’s so much to love. The Treby Arms had a chat with us about what first-time visitors can expect, as well as detailing their recent renovations:
“The Treby Arms has a lot of history; it was built by Brunel for the workers on the railway bridge. We try to offer a relaxed ambience and a wide choice of quality food on our menu, all cooked to order. The renovations we have made to the pub have given us two distinct dining areas; on the ground floor a traditional but up to date pub and bar for relaxed meals and a more contemporary restaurant space on the first floor with a modern, bright feel.
“With our menu, we try to cater to as wide an audience as possible as we believe that everyone should be able to enjoy good quality food at a decent price. We have classic pub food such as steaks and fish and chips as well as Italian staples like carbonara and of course Napoli style pizza. Chef loves to get creative and our daily specials are where he gets to show off new dishes and flavours, for example, our venison haunch steak with sweet potato mash, curly kale and game jus.”
Wonderful food in the South West of England
Driving on down to one of the wonderful restaurants listed above when in the South West is certainly recommended and we hope that you enjoy dining at one very soon! We are truly blessed in the South West with great food and wonderful dining locations and we certainly feel the above-listed establishments are a great representation of what’s on offer. Whether you are visiting friends or family, or are looking for somewhere to stop at after picking up your new Mercedes close by, the South West has you covered.