Food And Drink
One of the many reasons to have a holiday in West Dorset is the quality of its food and drink, it’s become quite a haven for food lovers. Bridport has a reputation for being West Dorset’s foodie capital. Have a look at this video for a taster.
Read on for some suggestions of delicious independent restaurants, cafés, pubs and local suppliers.
Note: Best to check opening days and times before you visit. Some of the restaurants do get very booked up so our advice is to book ahead, even before you go away if you have a particular date and place in mind for a meal out.
Within a few minutes’ stroll of the cottage you’ll find several restaurants and cafés, three pubs, a tea room, plus the wooden food huts around the harbour. Locally caught seafood is often a speciality. Here are some of our favourites.
The Watch House Café is right on East Beach. Go there for breakfasts, wood-fired pizzas, and a changing menu with fish dishes.
Seagulls, round the corner on Station Road, looks rather unassuming from the outside, but head inside for a reasonable priced restaurant with friendly staff and well cooked food. Several people have written in our guestbook recommending the place, and it is rated highly on Tripadvisor. A visit for Sunday roast and pudding did not disappoint.
Go just around the other corner on George Street and over the river footbridge for Rise Cafe Bar. It’s in the premises which was the Riverside for decades. The owners are the couple who put “boutique” into The Bull Hotel in Bridport and founded The Stable there. They also own Swim in Lyme Regis. With the smart new interior, outside decking and festoon lighting it definitely makes more of its unique position. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as drinks and small bites. Lots of variety on the menu, including burgers, fish dishes and children’s meals.
If you fancy something a bit quirky and unique then head to West Bay’s old station platform. Not cheap but you dine well and enjoy cocktails too in The Station Kitchen’s two glamorously decorated vintage railway carriages and ticket office. Local seafood is a speciality and there are also meat dishes on the menu including steaks and burgers. Book ahead. At weekends you can order wood fired pizza, puds, beer and prosecco to take back home or to the beach.
Cherries Café and Ice Cream Parlour, American style diner at the end of Pier Terrace. Recommended by teenage daughter and her friends, the full English and pancake stack breakfasts are “delicious”.
Sladers Yard’s old warehouse provides a gorgeous rustic backdrop for breakfast, lunch, or cake and coffee, with vegan and vegetarian wholefood options available, all made in the café. Follow your food with a nose around the beautiful furniture and paintings there.
On a nice day the harbour is the perfect place to sit and eat alfresco.
You’ll probably need to queue for the freshly cooked fish and chips from S & E Fish and Chips, but it’s worth the wait.
Or you could try one of the characteristic wooden huts providing a variety of foods. Special mention to Rachel’s on The Mound (seasonal opening) which does great fish dishes including a tasty chowder and the prawn platter shown in this photo. Baboo Gelato sells ice cream handmade in Bridport. Yummy. Just keep a look out for the seagulls.
The three pubs in West Bay are all Palmers pubs, Bridport’s brewery.
The West Bay Hotel appears to be shut at the moment. with new landlords arriving Feb 2024.
You can sit in the beer garden of The George and watch harbour life as you enjoy a pint of the local brew. Good value pub grub too.
The thatched Bridport Arms on East Beach was built around the turn of the 18th century, making it the oldest surviving building in West Bay. We’ve not eaten here for ages, not since before it was taken over by new managers in 2023, current reviews look a bit mixed.
In Bridport you have a choice of cafes, restaurants and bars serving locally produced food and drink.
A favourite of ours is Dorshi, tucked down a little alleyway, Chancery Lane, off East Street. The style is Asian using mostly local produce. The menu has a selection of dumplings, small plates and noodle bowls. Eat separately or share plates in a group. We were too busy tucking in to the food to think of taking a photo of it. Instead here is one of the upstairs bar where they make cocktails in the evening.
Our favourite café (we haven’t tried them all) in Bridport is The Green Yard Café, just north of East Street on Barrack Street. Friendly service and tasty lunches, desserts, cakes and coffee. Colourful courtyard and an elephant in the room, what’s not to like!
We also recommend Bella’s on Bucky Doo Square for a takeaway sandwich and slice of cake.
A welcoming pub is the Tiger Inn. It’s close to the town centre on Barrack Street, which runs north off East Street. The pub is traditional with a nice atmosphere. Popular with locals, it is friendly to non-locals too. It has pleasant courtyard seating at the front and back of the pub. There is a good selection of real ale (and it’s not Palmers for a change).
Another treat for ale lovers is the tiny The Pursuit of Hoppiness on West Street with a range of unusual bottled and canned craft beers as well as six hand pumps serving regularly changing IPAs, stouts, milds and bitters. Cider and wine too for the non-beer lovers. It has seating inside and a few outside tables on the street.
For a change from a pint head to a cocktail bar. Dark Bear was a runner up in the Observer Food Monthly Awards for best places to drink in 2018 and 2019. Now find it in The Cellar bar underneath Bridge House Hotel on East Street. A joint venture by two Dorset mixologists, they specialise in workshops, local flavours and house-made infusions and syrups.
Fancy a takeaway? You have various options, including Long’s Fish and Chips, Indian, Chinese and Domino’s pizza.
Big sister of West Bay’s Watch House Café, The Hive Beach Café is located right on the beach at Burton Bradstock with far reaching views across Lyme Bay and Chesil Beach. It’s short drive or you can get there walking along the cliff path west from West Bay. It’s a brilliant location to enjoy fresh, local seafood, homemade cakes or just a cup of tea.
Also in Burton Bradstock, on the cliff top, you’ll also find The Seaside Boarding House with restaurant and bar. It has an open air terrace overlooking Lyme Bay. Menus have a local seafood bias, and you can pop in for breakfast or afternoon tea too. We’ve not been there ourselves yet but a cliff walk from the cottage for a cream tea is definitely on the to-do list, and deserved after that East Cliff climb.
Book well ahead if you want to eat at The Three Horseshoes in Burton Bradstock village. It’s a lovely old stone-built pub with a thatched roof. Fires burn in wood burners in the winter and there is a beer garden for the summer. Their website says “Dog friendly, children welcome, muddy boots allowed.” The best Sunday lunch we’ve had in a lot time (Jan 2024).
Approximately a mile inland from the coast road near Burton Bradstock and about 10 minutes drive from the cottage, there’s an Italian restaurant we’d like to try after reading good things. The Parlour is based on Bredy Farm within a disused milking parlour on the farmyard.
In 2017 the Hive Beach Company turned it’s attention to another venue a little further down the coast in West Bexington. Taking on the slightly shabby cafe on the beach there, they transformed it into The Club House. It now has two AA Rosettes and is mentioned in the Michelin Guide.
The Crab House Café, with a beach shack feel, serves fish and seafood landed along the coast within 40 miles, including oysters from their own beds. Roughly 40 minutes drive from the cottage, it’s at the eastern end of Chesil Beach at the entrance to the Portland causeway. Sun hats provided! Book ahead.
Brassica has a lovely location in Beaminster’s historic market square. It features on Sunday Times’ Top 100 Restaurants list. Excellent reviews describe a cheerful dining room and food as delicious, interesting and local, with a Mediterranean influence. The menu changes daily with a choice of five starters, five mains and five desserts.
We’ve never been there ourselves but The Ollerod, also in Bedminster, looks lovely and has a walled garden and a covered and heated terrace.
Walk west along the Coast Path and visit The Anchor at Seatown right on the coast. Carry your drink up to the terrace at the side of the pub to sit and sip with one of the best beer garden views in the country. It has been winning lots of awards recently. VisitEngland named it England’s finest pub. It also won Dorset’s best pub in the National Pub and Bar Awards in 2017 and 2018 and Dorset Magazine awarded it best pub of the year 2017 too.
Between March and October you may decide to divert off the coastal path. Between Eype and Seatown follow the signs for a short walk inland to Downhouse Farm. This garden cafe, with wide views of the coast, uses their own organic meats, herbs and veggies alongside other local produce to serve breakfasts and lunches, cream teas and homemade cake. You can drive there but walking makes you feel you’ve earned it.
If you fancy pushing the boat out (not literally) in Lyme Regis, eat at Mark Hix’s The Oyster & Fish House, with panoramic views over the bay. Serving local produce, fish and seafood caught off the Dorset coast, often from Lyme Bay itself.
Not been ourselves but a Lyme Regis restaurant has been included among the UK’s Top 100 Restaurants for 2024 in the annual list from SquareMeal. Lilac is a restaurant and wine bar set in a cosy 400 year old cellar on Broad Street.
An interesting choice is The Avenue Restaurant based at Weymouth College. Full-time students cover all tasks in the kitchen and front of house. Book a table if you are after top quality food at a very good value. The restaurant is only open certain days during term time, check the website.
Discover freshness and flavour, support the local economy and cut food miles by using local produce. Farm shops abound in the winding lanes of the county. The nearest is Washingpool Farm, just outside Bridport, with over 80 acres of working farmland. Their farm shop sells their own vegetables, meats, and ready meals plus a large selection of food and drink from local suppliers. You may recognise it as Lenny Henry’s farm shop in Broadchurch season 3.
Alternatively drive 10 minutes west along the A35 to Morcombelake to visit Felicity’s Farm Shop, a family-run business with great views. They sell a range of local foods and there is a take-away kitchen selling breakfast and lunch, cakes and hot drinks. You can sit outdoors with views over Golden Cap and the sea. You’ll also find a Baboo Gelato trailer there.
Farmers’ Markets are a great place to buy local produce and chat with farmers, producers and growers. Local farmers’ markets are held in Bridport (second Saturday of the month), Dorchester (fourth Saturday) and Poundbury (first Saturday).
Bridport has the oldest family-run business in English, established in 1515, the butchers RJ Balson & Son.
Round the corner in West Bay is a fishmongers, Just Fish Seafood West Bay, with fresh fish and shellfish plus a seafood tapas menu.
Palmers Brewery, on the left as you drive from West Bay into Bridport, has a shop, Palmers Wine Store, selling wine and their bottled ale.
When you are in Dorset try a Dorset Knob, a dry biscuit usually eaten with cheese. Moores Biscuits make them, a company based in Bridport and established over 130 years ago. Their products are available from many shops in Bridport and West Bay.
Palmers Brewery run a two hour tour and tasting. For details and to pre-book please see here.
Less than 20 minutes drive beyond Bridport is Furleigh Estate, a prize winning vineyard and winery. If you’d like to try some English wine you can book a vineyard tour and tasting with them.
Black Cow vodka is the latest local product to win UK plaudits and awards. A Beaminster dairy farmer makes the vodka from grass-fed cows’ milk from his own 250-strong herd. A great bit of diversification.
Keep an eye out for food festivals across the county. Pick up tips as you watch demonstrations by chefs and experts. The most local festival is the Bridport Food Festival, held in June.