Plate With A View: La Melie, Dieppe, France

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The Independent Travel

Although there are a couple of dishes on the menu to please a piscaphobe, La Melie is essentially a seafood restaurant - all its fish comes directly from one family owned trawler that moors on the nearby quay.

THE PLATE

Although there are a couple of dishes on the menu to please a piscaphobe, La Melie is essentially a seafood restaurant - all its fish comes directly from one family owned trawler that moors on the nearby quay. On a recent visit in January after a storm had kept the fishing boats in port for three days, the menu was sadly reduced. It's a price I'm willing to pay for getting only the freshest catch.

La Melie lost its Michelin star in the dying days of the former owner, but is fighting back with some of the finest seafood cuisine in a port that, according to Rick Stein, has more fish restaurants than the whole of England's south coast.

The cooking is French with the slightest of Japanese twists - the wife of the chef-patron is Japanese born. So a starter of seared scallops is served with Japanese vinegar, and goujons of sole come in a tempura batter. The €33 (£23) menu continues with a soup course, and I chose a deliciously subtle veloute of oysters.

My main course was red mullet stuffed with (among other ingredients) crab meat. The dessert list reminds you you're in Normandy, and a gravity-defying apple soufflé paved the way for a digestif of calvados - although, slightly perversely, the restaurant prides itself on a fine collection of Scotch whiskies.

THE VIEW

The view from the pink-walled dining room is of an old iron swing bridge - le pont Colbert. Dieppe has been painted from every angle by everyone from Turner to Monet, Sickert to Whistler, but it was Harold Gilman, the founder of the Camden Town School, who painted le pont Colbert in 1911. The bridge is also a central fixture in a Thirties George Simenon novel Newhaven-Dieppe.

THE BILL

The aforementioned €33 menu is excellent value, although gourmands can stray on to a gut-busting €49 (£35) menu.

Reservations and prices: 00 33 2 35 84 21 19

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