Six of the best places to eat oysters

Beside the market square in the charming village of Orford, the Butley Oysterage, Market Hill, Orford, Woodbridge, Suffolk (01394 450277) serves sweet, plump specimens, home-grown on the river Butley. The restaurant is also justly famous for its smoked fish (especially cod's roe) produced in the smokehouse behind the premises.

The Company Shed, 129 Coast Road, West Mersea, Essex CO5 8PA (01206 382700) doubles as fish shop and shellfish restaurant. Heather and Richard Haward buy in locally caught, spankingly fresh fish from the surrounding coast. Along with a wide variety of shellfish, Richard farms his own oysters, buying spats from Scotland and fattening them locally. All are opened, dressed or cooked to order.

Isle of Ulva Oysters, Isle of Ulva (01688 500264). Work up an appetite with a stroll around this lovely Scottish island, then picnic on a dozen Pacifics or Natives plucked straight from the sea and sold at the cafe by the ferry - plain, baked with garlic and parsley butter, or grilled with parmesan and cream.

The Duchy of Cornwall Oyster Farm, Port Navas, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 5RJ (01326 40210) is run by Len Hodges who dredges oysters from the rivers that flow past the oystery (there have been naturally seeded oyster beds here since Roman times). The oysters are sold to many of the best restaurants and can sent anywhere in the country. You can spend a fine afternoon sitting by the river downing oysters and watching Len and his team harvest more.

A converted cattle byre on the shores of Loch Fyne houses the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar, Clachan Farm, Ardkinglas, Cairndow, Argyll (01499 600234). The waters here are famously rich in plankton-loving oysters. With simple dishes, relaxed service and a flexible menu, the restaurant is a winner.

Abbotsbury Oysters, Ferry Bridge, Weymouth, Dorset, DT4 9YU (01202 873490). The bulk of the oysters here are Pacifics - markedly salty and meaty (also ideal for cooking). They are sold from the farm off the causeway that links the Isle of Portland to the mainland and you can either take them away or sit by the lagoon from which they are harvested, and enjoy them ready opened with a glass of chilled wine.

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