In Giles Coren’s new book How to Eat Out, he argues that the best restaurant in the world is the one nearest your home, where they look after you well.
It’s it a bit like that at The Riverside at Braunton, which has recently been taken over by Hayley Charlesworth and her brother Dave. It’s the quintessential neighbourhood restaurant, with a friendly welcome, relaxed vibe and crowd-pleasing dishes such as mussels in Thai broth, steaks and beer battered fish and chips.
Hayley and Dave come from a family of local restaurateurs, and there’s been a lot of community support for this new venture. It’s not just the owners who are local either, there’s also a decent show of local ingredients such as Lundy crab, Braunton grown veggies and well-reared meats, as well as local fish such as bass and turbot on the specials board.
As you’d imagine in Braunton, with its close proximity to the beaches of Saunton, Croyde and Woolacombe, there’s a surfy feel to the place, and it’s perfect for a post-beach lunch or supper on the terrace, or even for breakfast on the way to the coast.
Popular dishes include the whopping homemade beef burger, which is served with homemade coleslaw, hand cut chips and streaky bacon or local cheese. The inhouse stone baked pizzas are another fave, as is The Riverside grazer board: a selection of main courses served in mini portions. We had a mix of hot, crisp fishcakes, lime, ginger and coriander marinated salmon, and lipsmackingly good hummus and baba ganoush with olive oil-drizzled toasted bread.
Finish up with dessert such as the white russian crème brulee, which is beautifully made (no sledgehammer need to crack through the sugar) or take coffee onto the outside terrace. Don’t forget to make sure the ducks get a good feed too – there’s seed available to throw into the adjacent river. If you’re lucky enough to have The Riverside as your neighbourhood restaurant, make Hayley and Dave your new best mates, and if you’re not, use a trip to the beach this summer as your excuse to visit. JR