Ideally situated next to the slipway in Exmouth overlooking the River Exe, the choice of location for Rockfish’s latest restaurant – their first venture up into East Devon – really could not be any better. This fitting location for a predominantly seafood serving eatery offers views that are quite simply beautiful.
Being a winter visit, it was comforting to be greeted by two log burners in the restaurant to provide plenty of warmth and a homely atmosphere. The conservatory area in which we were seated can be opened up to a fully outdoor seating area in the summer months, offering uninterrupted views over the water. I’m sure this will prove to be a popular seating choice in the warmer weather, even well into the evenings as blankets are also available for if you start to feel the cold.
The interior style showcased a modern, nautical theme with some quirky touches which we really appreciated. The tables were laid with a large paper menu listing all the types of fish that the restaurant serves. Your server will then mark which fish are available on that particular day – a unique (to me) way of listing the daily specials that were on offer.
Of course, there is also the regular menu to provide plenty of choice along with an extensive drinks menu listing a number of craft beers, wines and non-alcoholic drinks. The whole menu can even be served gluten free if required – an added bonus for the growing number of people whose options are usually limited when eating out.
To start, my husband opted for the Roasted Half Shell Scallops (£9.95) which were caught within just a few miles of where we were sitting – how’s that for local produce? The garlic flavouring was just right so as not to overpower. I chose the Crispy Fried Salt & Pepper Prawns (£8.50) which were equally delicious and battered to perfection.
For the main course, my husband chose the Gurnard – one of the daily fish specials recommended by our knowledgable server which he could have grilled or fried. When it arrived, we were surprised to see a very generous portion of three large fillets on his plate! I was very tempted by the Fried Soft Shell Crab Roll (£12.95), but I really wanted to see Rockfish’s take on a nice traditional fish & chips. Rockfish pride themselves on sourcing their fish from sustainable supplies and so their cod and haddock come as far as the ice cold waters of Norway! You are given the choice between the Prime Cod Fillet (£11.95) and the Line Caught Haddock (£12.95) with the additional option of having the fish grilled or fried in their signature Rockfish batter. Both of our mains were cooked beautifully, with a lovely balance of flavours. I chose the Rockfish batter and, having it on both my starter and main, I very much welcomed the crispy texture that was tasty without a fatty aftertaste.
All mains are served with salad or chips as standard, with the added benefit of unlimited chips so you can keep asking for more as and when you felt the need – there’s no excuse not to leave full here. There is also a whole host of sides to choose from, interestingly with some twists on the more usual ones you would expect. We were keen to try the jalapeno tartare sauce and the jalapeno coleslaw to give a welcome kick to our flavours and satisfy our love of hot food – an interesting pairing that we really enjoyed.
Fully utilising the unlimited chips we came to the dessert menu feeling rather full. But when we were recommended the Chocolate, Caramel & Popcorn Sundae (£6.95) I couldn’t resist, whilst my husband headed straight for the Banana Split (£5.95). Both temptingly naughty but still light and refreshing, they provided an injection of sweetness to end the meal.
Rockfish welcomes dog walkers of an afternoon and if live music is your thing then head down on selected Wednesday nights for The Rockfish Sessions with acoustic music and songs while you dine.
The restaurant has already made its mark on the community by supporting the local voluntary lifeguard group Exmouth Beach Rescue Club with an optional £1 table donation to help with their services. With high quality seafood cuisine and unrivalled views out of the mouth of the Exe estuary, I think it’s safe to say that Rockfish will very quickly become a much-loved part of the Exmouth community.
Words: Esther Baker
Photos: Esther Baker and Rockfish
Visit Rockfish Exmouth online at: www.therockfish.co.uk/restaurants/exmouth