Dorset to West Sussex, taking in the Isle of Wight as we travel east. This month we do a round-up of some of the best beach cafes that are open during the winter months.
Hix Oyster & Fish House, Lyme Regis
This relaxed restaurant overlooks Lyme Regis harbour. The simple dishes use locally sourced sustainable stuff. Obviously it is good with fish, but I like the afternoon tea including the Dorset border cream tea and toasted teacakes.
01297 446 910
The Watch House Cafe, East Beach, West Bay
A wood fired pizza oven, great choice of home made, local food, great farmhouse breakfast, ice cream parlour, seating outside on beach, this is sister to the Hive.
The Hive Beach Café, Burton Bradstock, Dorset
This seafood cafe at Hive Beach offers views of Lyme Bay and the Jurassic Coast. Spider crabs from the beach are served in summer, and the menu changes daily depending on availability. Dishes may include West Bay turbot, with a wild mushroom and tarragon sauce, or pan-fried Lyme Bay monkfish. It closes a bit earlier in the winter, but is good for breakfast and lunch.
Taste, Chesil Beach, Portland
Situated half way along the causeway in the pretty Wildlife Trust building, serving great food all day, good coffee, crab sandwiches and platters to share. It has evening openings in the summer months. Then walk out onto Chesil and look back along the Fleet – magical. It has just won the Taste of the West Silver Award.
Harbour Lights, Portland Marina
Hot off the press, Harbour Lights has just re-opened under Dean & Reddyhoff’s management. The waterfont bar has a wood-fired pizza oven outside and is offering some great winter deals and live music to warm up locals and berth holders.
South Deep Café, Parkstone Bay, Poole
It has a lovely sheltered spot with its own baker on site. The café offers good food, freshly cooked and sensibly sourced. We like it here, but check tides if you are coming by water – it is sports boat country!
And now to the Isle of Wight… my best foodies here are Matt & Cat – follow them on Twitter @MattandCat – and Telegraph travel writer Fiona Duncan @HotelGuruGuru
The Little Gloster, Gurnard, Isle of Wight
Everyone talks about this place, and I am yet to try it, but here is what Fiona Duncan said recently: “This restaurant with rooms is possibly the best place to eat on the Isle of Wight. At Gurnard, just along the coast from Cowes, it has views right down the Solent from inside or out. The menu changes daily, but enjoy brunch of eggs Florentine, lunch of Bembridge crab and crayfish cakes or dinner of Cheverton sirloin steak. Winter openings are Thursday to Sunday with booking advised.
and now back to mainland…
Pebble Beach, Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire
Watch the sunset from the smart cliff-top terrace. The dining room has a much more formal feel, as does the sophisticated à la carte menu, on which diners might find Gigas rock oysters and lamb shoulder.
The Beach House, Mudeford, Christchurch Harbour
Catch the ferry over or a train from Christchurch to Hengistbury Head. We all share fond memories of shuffling in here, sand footed, for a plate of crab cakes and bottle of Picpoul.
The Jetty, at Christchurch Harbour Hotel, Mudeford
This is a treat with gorgeous Grand Designs style timber and glass rooms overlooking the harbour. Great food and wine list – lunch is something of a bargain for the quality of food (cooked by local chef Alex Aitken) with eye popping surroundings.
The Haven, Lymington Yacht Haven
A wonderful setting above the marina office and brokerage, with far reaching views over to the Island. It is much improved since Chris Evans helped to update it. There is the big fish platter (it is worth asking the price before ordering this fella – or be sitting down) and is also good for a beer or a coffee.
Trinity’s at the Lightship, Haslar, Portsmouth Harbour
This is not a beach café, but as it is right on the water and you can come on into the marina, tie up and have lunch, it goes on my list. Maria serves great food from breakfast ‘till dinner on one of the world’s remaining Lightship’s. It is closed the first two weeks of January.
The Boat House Cafe Chichester Marina, West Sussex
A convivial café in an attractive building at Chichester Marina, so zip through the lock – always fun – and enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner.
East Beach Cafe, Littlehampton, West Sussex
A stunning building, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, it is a giant piece of oxidized steel that reminds me of knuckled Meccano pieces, sitting on the shingle, looking out to sea. The menu consists of retro seaside classics done properly such as beer-battered fish and chips and kippers on toast.
01903 731 903