“Fish are friends, not food” is the famous quote from an animated great white shark with an Australian accent. However, the Seafood Feast of the English Riviera disagrees with this quote, given the amount of seafood consumed during this event.
The English Riviera Seafood Feast is an event where all fish markets, pubs, and restaurants celebrate all things related to everything found in the sea. As well as serving this fresh fish, they also host their own events, which engage tourists with the world of seafood. This ranges from sampling the finest seafood on a premium moored yacht to fishing for your own catch of the day and having a chef cook this to perfection.
No matter how this is celebrated, there is no doubt that you will come across fresh fish on a daily basis. This is especially true when dining in some of the finest seafood restaurants in Devon.
Having experienced this feast for myself, I have gained a bellyful of knowledge from the three-day weekend I spent being a part of it. You may wish to use the following guide as a rough plan on what to do during this feast; either this or you can follow your own itinerary, however you want to pan this out.
Driving into the sea-faring town of Torquay is no doubt making me eager with anticipation. Anticipation for the number of times I will be tasting a wide variety of fish, freshly caught on the day I consume it. I drive to my hotel and get checked into my adequately sized double room. This is where I realise with excitement that my hunt for some of the best fish in Devon has begun.
I embark stroll along Torquay Harbour, where I walk past a family fishing for crab on a slope leading into the water. The children of this family eagerly look out for crabs to catch and place into their miniature buckets. It is clear that they are getting the fishing buzz at such a young age. I then take time to notice the neat form the boats have been moored up in just as the sun sets on the visible horizon.
A family of keen crab hunters looking for their catch of the day
The time to consume my first meal approaches, and the time comes for me to dine in my first Devon seafood restaurant. After examining the options available to me, I decide to visit Torquay’s Saltwater Restaurant for a casual dining experience on my first night. I am seated down at my solo table and proceed to consume my fish two-course meal.
This adventure begins with lightly seasoned whitebait served with tartare sauce, priced at £7.95. It ends with a grilled monkfish with feta, tomato, and red onion salad, equating to £23.90 (£18.95 for the monkfish only). The freshness in this fish can definitely be tasted, given that they were caught from the seawater in which they swam. My excitement grows in that I realise there will be more fish feasting to come the next day.
My whitebait starter and monkfish main course at Saltwater Restaurant.
After resting from the hard work of digesting my first fish meal, I wake up to a curious thought: what if I step it up a level and have some fish for breakfast?
After looking into this, I discover Offshore Restaurant, which hosts diners for breakfast, where one of the items consists of scallops on sourdough toast. With this being the Seafood Feast, skipping having fish for breakfast would be criminal. Coming to this conclusion, I head out of my hotel towards Offshore Restaurant to consume a fishy breakfast.
After being seated, I order a vanilla latte with the scallop & sourdough toast breakfast. While waiting for this, I admire the scenery from the table I have been placed at. It is conveniently facing the restaurant window, where I have a view of the moored boats at Torquay Harbour. The sun shines down on them, projecting a gleaming light in my direction. This is made even more enjoyable with the arrival of my vanilla latte and my scallop & sourdough toast breakfast shortly after.
For £11.95, I am dished up a nicely toasted slice of sourdough bread with perfectly cooked scallops and a delicious emulsion of tomato salsa and smashed avocado. I also sip on a smooth and silky vanilla latte priced at £3.40. What better way could there be to begin my second day of the English Riviera’s Seafood Feast?
My vanilla latte and scallops on sourdough toast at Offshore Restaurant.
With my breakfast consumed, I head out to a ticket kiosk opposite Offshore Restaurant and purchase a return ticket for a ferry to Brixham. This is where the next leg of my Seafood Feast weekend begins as I board the ship bound for this seaside town. It also boasts the second-largest fishing port in the UK, as revealed from the tour guide aboard the ferry. For a £7 return, it offers a 30-minute ferry ride from Torquay Harbour to Brixham and vice versa.
After it moors up at its Brixham terminus, I depart the ferry and immediately begin exploring this harbourside town and how it celebrates the Seafood Feast. There is a very long pier that has many of the locals gathering to watch a jet ski competition, where confident jet ski riders race around a circuit, competing to get the best lap time. Walking along this pier, Brixham Lighthouse stands as the white monument as it is overlooking the English Riviera. Once I reach this, I am in awe at the gorgeous clear view overlooking the Riviera, which visibly extends out to Torquay via Paignton.
Brixham Lighthouse, standing tall at the end of its lengthy pier.
The walk is quite strenuous; however, getting to the end and back again is my cue to treat myself to a divine crab sandwich. I settle down at a table in a seating area belonging to Claws Restaurant. I dig my claws into the crab sandwich I ordered for no more than £4.50. A sandwich packed with crab meat and surrounded by brown bread, it is arguably one of the best lunches I would recommend having if eating seafood all weekend.
The crab sandwich I sampled at Claws Restaurant.
With a bellyful of crab and white bread, I am just in time to catch the last ferry bound for Torquay. This is the opportunity I take to admire the blue beauty of the Riviera itself before disembarking. Upon returning to my hotel room, I focus on getting ready to head out to enjoy my second and final evening meal. This is where I look to experience this Seafood Feast from the higher end of the spectrum in terms of dining experience.
The Orestone Manor, just a couple of minutes away from my hotel, is the place for this fine fish dining experience. To be seated at a table sampling three courses of fine fish cuisine is bliss. The first course is a Brixham Crab Martini with avocado, apple sorbet, apple crisp and a poppy seed straw. The second course is a Pan Fried Hake Fillet, served with mussels in their shells, a paprika veloutè, sapphire, a burnt lemon half and new potatoes. To finish this off, the third and final course is a Plum Frangipane Tart, served with clotted cream and a brûléed plum on the side.
My three-course meal at the Orestone Manor.
The elegance of this meal presents itself very well, and for £44 for three courses, it is hard to argue that this is reasonable fine dining. I am also treated to a relaxing atmosphere, where very few tables are used in the area of the restaurant I am sitting in.
As this evening draws to a close, I return to my hotel in the hope that I can sleep through the digestion of the fresh seafood I have just consumed. Sure enough, I wake up the next morning to consume breakfast at my hotel. As I check out, I feel that my appetite has been filled really well with the divine seafood that the English Riviera has provided me.
English Riviera Seafood Feast FAQs
Q: Where are the best places to stay during the English Riviera’s Seafood Feast?
- A: There are plenty of accommodation options for you to choose from, ranging from a simple B&B in Brixham to a 4-star hotel in Torquay. I stayed in the Yardley Manor Hotel, just outside the centre of Torquay, where the rate was a decent £79.96 per night.
Q: What other activities can people take part in?
- A: The other activities you can look into completing include the following:
- Catch & Cook at the Carey Arms
- Sea to Sip: English Wine Paired with Succulent Seafood
- All Hands on Deck Sea Shanty Band
- Mermaid Afternoon Tea
- Local Gin & Shellfish
These activities, along with plenty more, are available to take part in and range in terms of dates and pricing. It is worth visiting the website for further details.
Q: When is the best time to visit the English Riviera Seafood Feast?
- A: The Seafood Feast is an event that takes place from the end of September to the middle of October. Visiting the English Riviera around this period guarantees the opportunity to take part in a range of activities.
Q: Is there a guide displaying all events throughout the English Riviera Seafood Feast?
- A: There is a guide which visitors can look at to help them decide on what events to take part in. It also includes the dates of the activities that are taking place.
Q: What are the best ways of getting to the English Riviera Seafood Feast?
- A: If driving, you can take the M5 all the way to the end before taking the A380, which will direct you towards the Riviera towns. If taking the train, there are train stations in Torquay and Paignton, which are just a stone’s throw away from the seafront. If flying in, the nearest airport to the Riviera is based in Exeter.
By Louie Amos
Louie Amos is a freelance travel writer currently operating in the UK. Having achieved his NCJ Diploma in Travel Journalism, he regularly posts articles on his website The Travelling Foodie as well as Everything UK Travel.