We took my Mum with us on holiday this year, and we made the most of it. I gave her a weeks notice for babysitting and the hubby and I got on our glad rags and headed out for some much needed couple time.
We walked almost the length of the Esplanade trying to find somewhere to eat. The first place we stopped out was a no go. Firstly it was empty, secondly there was a dog in the main restaurant. Don’t get me wrong I’m not a doggie hater but hot slobbery Labrador ouders while you’re trying to have an intimate meal with your chap is a major passion and appetite killer in my books!
So we went on to the next place, and it was heaving. We found a table, picked up the menu and I gave Phil ‘the look’. You know the kind that says “if you think I’m stopping here to eat you’ve another thing coming!” The place was filled with families, the menu was sticky, there was a 40 minute wait for food and I was already one foot out the door. Romantic it wasn’t!
So on we walked. The next place we didn’t even venture into. The boards outside said “We love dogs” and “Doggie treats on the bar” …
In the end we stopped outside this small unassuming restaurant. We had a quick look inside and went in. We are so glad we did too. No going to the bar to order, or pooches panting their little faces off. We were seated to a table with views across the harbour and handed pristine wine menus. Utterly wonderful.
We order a Pinot Grigio and took our time over the menu. We didn’t feel rushed or pressured by the waitress to get on and order. We chatted, drank some wine and then chatted some more. We debated over crab or lobster, neither of which I’ve had before.
Finally we decided on The Waterfront Seafood Platter for 2, and we were so glad we did. The platter consisted of a whole Branscome crab, oysters, marinated scallops, prawns, pickled cockles, mackerel pate and fresh bread.
When it arrived the lovely waitress explained that all the parts of the crab you couldn’t eat had been removed. I have never seen such a beautiful platter of the freshest seafood. And it truly tasted as good as it looked.
I had always wanted to try so many of the foods on the platter and I was glad Phil took charge in ordering it. For both of us it was a wonderful sharing of fine food, wine and another first. For both of us it was a first in cracking open a crab, eating fresh scallops, oysters and pickled cockles. We had so much fun laughing over our meal and making a little mess too.
The oysters were like eating the sea, salty but sweet. I have never tasted anything like them, although still undecided whether I love them or not, I am appreciative of why chefs moon over freshly chucked oysters.
The scallops had been marinated in lemon juice with courgetti and julienne carrots and peppers. They were delicate and married perfectly with the contrasting crunch of the vegetables. The small pearls of white flesh seems to melt in your mouth, leaving a freshness to the pallat from the citrus.
The mackerel pate was chunky and salty. With the fresh bread chunks it was delightful and balanced the sweetness of the other meats wonderfully. I absolutely loved it and could have eaten it all night.
The pickled cockles were hands down my absolute favourite. Even thinking about them now my mouth is watering. They were sweet from what I think is balsamic, which I love anyway. Piled onto a piece of the bread only made them better. If I could buy them in a jar of have bought a dozen at least! Honestly I have no words to describe them, they felt like joy in my mouth, like eating actual happiness. Corny I know but unless you try them you just won’t understand. I have dreamt about them since – it’d be worth the 4 hour journey back down there just to have a small bowl of them. Seriously!
Moving on to the prawns which were whole shell. We laughed while I tried to teach Phil how to shell them without ripping them to pieces. It took a while but he got it in the end! The prawns were cooked to perfection. The shells peeled off easily, for me any ways, and they were succulent. I liked mine dipped in the dill mayonnaise that came on the platter. Phil liked that and the Marie Rose too.
Lastly the crab. This large beauteous crab with all its legs and claws was quite something when it arrived at our table. We took a minute to appreciate it before Phil whipped the main shell off to see what was underneath. We had the utensils to crack the shell and pull the meat out of every part of the creature. And so with bare hands we got stuck in.
It wasn’t pretty, Phils shirt had a little sample, but my goodness it was good. You know when a tv chef goes on about the sweetness of crab meat, well we tasted it and it was beautiful! We were even a little sad when the we had run out of legs. The crab itself was fresh from the harbour and you could tell.
I could go and gush more about the food but I will leave it there. I would have recommended and returned to this place over and over, and it was so sad when I learnt that shortly after our visit the restaurant had to close. Exmouth is certainly the poorer for it, as I am sure many of The Waterfronts patrons would agree. A true gem.