[Wyke Regis, Dorset] Crab House Cafe

The beachside location, the casual name and ambiance belies the fact that this is a very serious seafood restaurant. The menu is written daily, depending on what fish has been landed by the local day boats – although they do farm their own oysters, literally a few yards from the restaurant. When you book (and you really do need to book), you’re asked where you want to sit – inside the restaurant, outside or semi-outside (in a heated area with roof. We’d chosen inside and I was pleased that we had. Not just that it was a bit chilly but I love to watch chefs cooking my dinner and our table was directly opposite the open kitchen.

And speaking of those oysters, two formed what they describe as a “pre-starter”. Served on the half shell, topped with oniony breadcrumbs and baked, they were a lovely beginning to what was going to be an absolutely fab meal.

We both went with the same starter – crab remoulade. The crab was from literally down the road on Portland and was mixed with fine shreds of celeriac. There’s a Dijon mustard and lobster mayo and a bit of salad. We should have saved some of the bread that they’d served as we sat down, but we’d already scoffed it, dipping it into the dish of rapeseed oil and anchovy balsamic vinegar.

For mains, there was a whole perfectly roasted sea bream, its belly stuffed with orange and fennel. It had been caught about 20 miles away in Kimmeridge Bay. On the other plate, a fillet of sea bass and another of silver mullet. This was all skilful, accurate fish cooking – the flesh just cooked through, with the skin crisp as you like. There was a light citrussy dressing . Both plates came with new potatoes and mixed vegetables, including fennel and broad beans. Two delicious plates of food.

Dorset apple cake was dessert for one of us. Served with cream, it was light and moist. Cheese for the other one. All five of them local and all in peak condition. There was Isle of White Soft, Open Air Dairy Cheddar (they milk their cows in the field), Cornish Blue, Driftwood and Cornish Brie. They came with crackers, grapes, apple, celery and chutney. And at room temperature. Just as it should be.

We finished with very good espresso. Service had been as excellent as the food. Thoroughly recommended.