The Riverside Restaurant ****
I have already written about our recent sojourn in Cornwall and the long drive to get there. On the way home, I wanted to stop somewhere for lunch that was around half-way between Cornwall and London. I almost achieved that with The Riverside Restaurant in West Bay, Dorset. I'd had several recommendations for it and was convinced to go when I heard that it was one of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's favourites.
West Bay, as the name would suggest is a bay. I'm not sure where it is west of - could be Chesil Beach. There is very little in the town except for the stunning cliffs (part of Dorset's Jurassic Coast and it would seem The Riverside Restaurant.
The restaurant is situated on a tiny island in the middle of one of the rivers that runs into the sea. The room itself is nice enough, like a large conservatory. The chairs reminded me of the type you often get a conferences. It may not have been stunning to look at, the but the food coming out of the kitchen was enough to get me going.
The menu is simple, is fish focused and makes clear that what is available depends on what has been caught. As with Margot's, they're keen on letting the ingredients speak for themselves. To start, Silverbrowess and I shared a plate of smoked salmon and gravadlax. The smoked salmon was nicely dry, thinly cut and with a lightly smoked, oaky taste, suggesting a London cure. The gravadlax was sliced slightly more thickly, with a good kick of dill. Simple and perfect.
For main course I had the grilled lemon sole and Silverbrowess had grilled sea bass with slow roasted tomatoes and a side of chips and a mixed salad. That's it, there's not a lot more to say except that when the best ingredients are cooked with the best technique, the outcome is the best dish. Although far from hungry, we both could have had the same again and agreed that a six-hour round trip for lunch, was not such a chore afterall.
The Riverside Restaurant, West Bay, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 4EZ, UK
Tel: +44 (0)1308 422011
What others think
The Observer - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's son's favourite restaurant