Emily Green suggests A trip to five seaside restaurants

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The Independent Culture
CORNWALL

Take plenty of money to The Seafood Restaurant, Riverside, Padstow (01841- 532485). It may look jazzy and casual, but its understated good taste is the kind that costs, to the tune of pounds 30-pounds 40 per person. And it is worth it: the staff are either family of the owners, or so beautifully assimilated that they simply seem like it. The chef is Rick Stein, author of English Seafood Cookery and all-round nice guy. The co-owner and host is his wife, Jill. The old gent on the piano Friday and Saturday nights is her father. The fish - lobster, seabass, platters of twiddly crustacea - are all so fresh they could pass muster in Brittany, except the menu is in English. All of it is day-fresh. And the cooking, from rich bouillabaisse-style fish stews, to grilled lobster or to Chinese-style poached bass, is the best in Britain. All the extras, down to the bread, are first class. The wine list is heroic, but start with the house chablis, which is a treat.

Set three-course lunch pounds 21.50, dinner pounds 29.30. Open lunch and dinner Mon- Sat. Visa, Mastercard. Unsuitable for children under five

DEVON

To dignify their passion, the Totnes and Dartmouth arts crowd yesterday began a three-week festival celebrating food and wine. Admiring images of them is fine and good. Eating is even better, particularly at The Carved Angel, 2 South Embankment, Dartmouth, Devon (01803 832465). The landscape itself takes care of the aesthetics. Look out of the window over the Dart estuary and one sees the luscious landscape that lured artists there in the first place. The food is classic Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson - almost to the letter. The perfect place to eat lobster courchamps, or drink a rich white burgundy.

Light lunches from pounds 15, proper meals will cost more like pounds 35-pounds 40. Two- course light lunch pounds 15, table d'hote pounds 24 and pounds 29; three-course dinner pounds 40, four- pounds 45. Three-course Sunday lunch pounds 35. Open lunch Tue-Sun, dinner Tue-Sat. Cash, cheques, Switch and Delta

DORSET

Locals call it Arthur's. The Good Food Guide prefers its proper name: The Riverside Restaurant, West Bay, Bridport, Dorset DT6 4EZ (01308 422011). A newcomer could be forgiven for mistaking it for a branch of the local post office, whose premises Arthur's shares. Whatever, it is a cheery caff overlooking a small lagoon populated by ducks, swans and paddle boats. The food is surprisingly good, particularly local seafood. Big brown crabs, local, fresh, hot from the pot, pounds 9. Half lobster, freshly boiled, with butter and lemon for pounds 12.50. Mackerel might be simply baked, served with its skin crisp and salty, the flesh melting. Poached egg on toast with tea served with the same ceremony (or lack of it). Kids are welcome to order chips and chips. Waitresses fly around the place, singing along to "La Bamba".

Light meals from pounds 5. Approx pounds 15-pounds 20. Open lunch Tue-Sun, and dinner Tue- Sat. Major credit cards

KENT

Restaurants in converted warehouses have a way of being snootier than the Savoy grill, and costing more. Not so The Royal Native Oyster Stores, The Horsebridge, Whitstable (01227 276856). Here the simplest of seafood - moules, plaice and oysters - is served in an atmosphere of controlled mayhem. Guests share trestle tables. Cheap white wine flows freely. South- coast suburbanites look gloriously continental in their Marks & Spencer jumpers. The waitress might park her bicycle in the dining room. Service is slow when it's busy, fast when it's not.

Approx pounds 15-pounds 20. Great for children. Open lunch and dinner Tue-Sun. Major credit cards

NORFOLK

Bernard Phillips is a retired local teacher; his wife Carla is the American (her whitefish pate gives her away as being of Russian-Jewish stock). Together they run a cottage restaurant, The Moorings, 6 Freeman Street, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk (01328 710949). There are few better places for a family meal. All the food, from day-fresh dabs and trout to venison and goat, is either organic or wild. Fennel will have been snipped from Norfolk hedgerows, vegetables grown in local allotments. Dinner prices - pounds 13.95 for two courses, pounds 17.95 for three.

Open lunch Fri-Mon, dinner Thur-Mon. Cash & cheques only

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