«

»

Review: Hive Beach Cafe, Bridport

The Dorset coast, Chesil Beach

The Dorset coast, Chesil Beach

Hiking the South-West Coast Path could be considered quite a foodie ramble. Taking you past Ricksteinton (aka Padstow), and the home of Nathan Outlaw in Rock, along the rugged Cornish coast which boasts more and more top-notch dining, like a personal favourite of mind the Gurnard’s Head. Thence through the South Hams of Devon, with just about the greatest concentration of artisan producers in the UK and blindingly good seafood at The Oyster Shack near Bigbury, then more Michelin-starred dining at the Elephant in Torquay. Eventually you’ll reach Dorset. Although by then you’ll have been walking for five weeks or so, which means you’ll want to stop for a nice lunch.

Which is handy, because the Hive Beach Cafe on Burton Bradstock beach near Bridport is right on route. It’s a proper beach cafe; the mish-mash of wooden buildings and pavilion tents look like they’d blow away in a

Crab sarnies

Crab sarnies

strong gale and if the day is anything less than freezing or pouring then the eager customers quickly spill out onto the various old wooden picnic tables on the terraces outside. Service looks chaotic but manages to somehow work wonders with such a rambling collection of tables. It certainly helps that the sun is shining and everything that comes out of the kitchen is brilliant.

This is where to come for spankingly fresh, generous and well-treated seafood. Much of it landed within ten miles, the rest just a few miles further down the coast in Devon. Maureen went for crab sandwiches. Properly served on brown bread, with a really beautiful mixture of white and brown meat generously stuffed between the slices. The side salad was well-dressed and worth eating (I have a real bugbear for this – so few side salads are actually good for anything but presentation).

Mackerel

Mackerel

My dish was a proper lunch; mackerel. What I actually got were two really large and handsome mackerel, grilled to perfection. It was one of those plates of food that makes you grin even before it’s been put down in front of you, because it’s so obviously generous and so obviously good. The fish didn’t disappoint, beautifully cooked to toothsome perfection. But there’s more! It was set on a vast bed of salad, broad beans and peas and fennel and tiny local prawns. Dozens of them. All delicious. The salad would have been a great lunch. And then! On the side was a great big dollop of smoked mackerel whizzed up with mayonnaise, and when this was combined with the rest what you have is one of the best plates of food I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

It’s lovely country, is the Dorset coast. But the Hive Beach Cafe really is worth a special trip. My dish was £17 but if I transported it to any of the finest fish restaurants in the country it wouldn’t look out of place. They’ve got a full wine list, and their own labelled lager is amazingly good and full-flavoured for a sunny day.

Hey, and while I’m at it: shout out to The Abbey House in Abbotsbury for a great cream tea at the end of the day, in a beautiful garden in an eye-wateringly pretty village.

Abbotsbury tea!

Abbotsbury tea!

1 comment

  1. Kate Newman

    Thank you for this lovely review of our little beach cafe 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>