Fish dishes are order of the day in Cornwall, our editor Rebecca Moore visits Sea Fever in Bude to get her latest fruit-of-the-sea fix…
It doesn’t take a mastermind to work out where Sea Fever Bistro in Bude takes its inspiration from. Situated on the north coast, this stretch of Cornwall is particularly famous for landing some of the best fish. While a lot of the daily catches end up on fancy plates at restaurants around the country, some of it travels a matter of metres to chef Kyan Hooper’s kitchen, who has been at the helm of Sea Fever for the past four years.
A proud Cornishman, Kyan’s passion is the beating heart of this small restaurant overlooking Summerleaze beach. Serving just 32 covers, with limited diners, as expected you’ll be well taken care of by the attentive and welcoming staff. And that’s something that’s important to Sea Fever; stripping back the stuffiness that’s often associated with fine dining, and replacing it with a laidback, friendly, and unpretentious attitude, and this was apparent as soon as stepping through to the door.
If you’re fortunate enough to land yourself a table in the window, then you’ll be treated to a seat with a view. It’s a shame there are not more beach-facing tables, but given the limited space, and being blessed that I see the sea daily, all is forgiven. While the restaurant celebrates its coastal location through hung seascapes on the walls, the purple and green décor was a little overbearing, but the atmosphere was humbling and relaxed.
At first glance of the menu it’s apparent that seafood and fish are the crowning glory here. With fruits of the sea championed, it’s safe to say if fish isn’t your game, then I’d stop reading and choose a different restaurant. My partner and I however, felt we’d lucked out being fish fans.
The menu is ever changing, depicted by the season and what’s available on the day. While we were disappointed not to see lobster on the menu – when the weather allows lobsters caught by Kyan’s uncle in Bude Bay steals the show – there’s a plethora of fish dishes to choose from.
Beginning our food journey with glazed malted bread baked in house with seaweed butter and a Porthilly oyster, it set the scene for what was to follow. Indian inspired cooking is one of my favourites, so naturally for my starter I opted for the locally-caught mackerel tandoori, creatively served with a delicious squid bhaji, cucumber and coriander. Super fresh and full of flavour, it didn’t disappoint. Equally impressive was the buttermilk monkfish with hot sauce, crème fraiche and house pickles on the side.
Choosing main courses was no easy feat, but on recommendation of our waiter, I went for the Sea Fever fish stew, served with aioli and croutons. Full to the brim with mussels, squid, hake and gurnard… it’s a fish-lover’s dream, and somewhat unconventionally makes a delectable dip for skin on fries. My partner opted for the plaice, which was served with tartare velouté, peas and his highlight… tasty crispy mussels. With main courses priced between £20 and £26 – sides are extra – for the quality of fish on offer it’s entirely reasonable.
Craving something sweet, my tastebuds went into overdrive with its dark chocolate mousse. Served with a dollop of malt ice cream, irresistibly chewy honeycomb and salted toffee, this was worthy of Great British Bake Off’s showstopper status. The clotted cream panna cotta was also a taste sensation.
Sea Fever is a delightful way to spend an evening. It’s relaxed, well priced and offers undeniably fresh fish dishes. The décor might not be to my taste, but the menu certainly is.