Summer seems to have arrived all of a sudden in the UK.
That can only mean one thing: I get myself to the north Norfolk coast for some fresh air as soon as I can.
This Sunday saw me and the family take a leisurely stroll on the beach at Wells-next-the-Sea, with the main intention of stopping for fish and chips at French’s at the end.
Unfortunately, it seemed like most of Norfolk had the exactly the same idea.
The queues at French’s were all the way back down the street as late as 2pm. Because we were all ravenous, we quickly made the decision to visit to another seafood eatery on the coast: Cookies Crab Shop at Salthouse.
It has a fantastic reputation for serving fresh seafood and I have been meaning to take a trip there for years, but never quite seemed to find the time.
And while it meant that I had to drive for a few miles to get there, I was keen to use the opportunity to get some thing fresh and healthy (and it was probably quicker than waiting a French’s).
I’m going to be totally (perhaps brutally) honest: I was a bit disappointed when we pulled up because it’s not much to look at.
It’s basically made up of a couple of buildings on the green with some patio furniture out front. One of the buildings contains the fish counter, where you order and pay, and another small dining area to the side. The menus are all up on the wall at the former and you make your choice there and then.
Much of the dine-in menu is made up of seafood platters, made up of your chosen seafood and an abundance of salad. And while there are jacket potatoes and toasted sandwiches (take-out only), the onus is definitely on seafood.
I opted for a crayfish royale platter (£7.95), while the rest of my group went for the rollmop and smoked salmon versions, before we took our seats.
While the dining area is a bit basic, it’s all clean and tidy. There were only a couple of groups in there because it was so late, but I can imagine it gets very busy at peak mealtimes in summer, but you could always decamp onto the green for a picnic. They do also take bookings over the phone, so it’s worth calling ahead to see if they can fit you in.
The food literally took a few minutes to arrive. Because most of the dishes are chilled, it seems to be an assembly job.
But that’s not to say it isn’t good. Or excellent value for money.
The platter was filled with crayfish tails, cockles, smoked mackerel, prawns and anchovies on a bed of lettuce, cucumber, tomato, beetroot, coleslaw and potato salad. For a healthy meal, it was certainly filling.
It was all incredibly fresh too. The crayfish tails were firm and sweet (enhanced ever so slightly with my guilty pleasure: Marie Rose sauce), the mackerel was smoky and the cockles were meaty and not rubbery. Of course, the salad was all crisp and crunchy too, providing relief from all the marine life.
In fact, Mother Dearest couldn’t finish all of her platter, because what with the smoked salmon and the smoked mackerel, it was all too much. Luckily Father saved the day after finishing his rollmop platter.
To say that it was satisfying was an understatement. And it came to around £25 with drinks included. Bargain.
If you’re heading out that way but don’t have time to stop, fish and platters can be bought at the counter and taken away. I wish I had, because I could have really gone for crayfish royale platter today. Maybe I’ll just have to make another trip to Salthouse next weekend…