When it comes to great places to eat in Plymouth, these days you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice.
You can go mackerel fishing and take your catch into a quayside café where they’ll cook it for you. Or you can spoil yourself with the culinary delights of the talented Tanner brothers whose upmarket eaterie, housed in one of Plymouth’s oldest buildings (pictured left), was voted AA Restaurant of the Year in 2007/8.
The city’s dining out experience has changed beyond all recognition since the early ‘90s when the opening of a new Spanish tapas bar caused a frisson of excitement among local foodies. We hungered for exotic flavours in those dark days when international offerings stretched no further than a pineapple topped pizza or a chicken dopiaza. Now you can take your pick of everything from cheap as chips takeaways to fine dining in restaurants capable of satisfying the most discerning palates.
The city is teeming with Indian restaurants, particularly around Bretonside at the western end of the city centre. The Eastern Eye in Notte Street is the oldest and arguably one of the best in town with some unusual additions to the standard curry house menu. We like the Spice Well in Buckwell Street and the award winning Café Indiya in Stoke Village is worth a visit with its stylish interior and friendly staff.
Bring your own wine...and fresh fish!
Head for the Barbican if you’re looking for Plymouth’s best seafood restaurants. Platters is one of our favourites – eat in the cosy restaurant with its bench style seating or get your takeaway fish and chips next door. The fish restaurants dotted around Sutton Harbour take the day’s catch fresh off the boats. Or you can go out on a guided fishing trip from the Barbican, bring back your catch and get them to cook it for you at the delightful Boat House café, right beside the ferry pontoon. They’ll provide the starters and bottle of wine while you relax and watch the world – and boats – go by. How cool is that?!
Good Thai restaurants include the Thai Palace in Elliot Street, just off Plymouth Hoe, and Thai in the Park – which looks a bit uninviting as it’s above the bland looking Thistle Park Tavern but go up the stairs and you’ll find a hidden gem. The waitresses in both places wear traditional costumes (which are a welcome change from the eye-popping attire of the city’s young female clubbers!).
If you enjoy choosing your own food and seeing it cooked in front of you head for Cuisine Spontanee on the Barbican where you can bring your own wine. The View pan Asia restaurant in Royal Parade, in the city centre, also offers a “cook in front of the customer” service as part of a diet busting all-you-can-eat buffet which includes a noodle and wok bar, dim sum and yakatori grill.
When the weather plays ball, there are few greater pleasures than eating in one of Plymouth’s seafront restaurants. The Terrace Café (pictured left), the Waterfront Restaurant, Wet Wok Chinese and Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club (open to non-members) on the Hoe foreshore all offer breathtaking views of The Sound.
To catch the last rays of the sun on a summer evening head over to the Royal William Yard at the western edge of the city where you can sit outside the Seco Lounge with a cocktail. Or tuck into some fresh local produce at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen and Deli – it’s in a location to die for, overlooking the River Tamar and Cornish countryside.
As you’d expect of a big city with a strong student population, Plymouth is awash with pizza joints, burger bars, fast food chains and cheap pub food. The best place to bag a burger is the Barbican’s famous Cap’n Jasper’s where bikers gather to feast al fresco on some of the best – and biggest – burgers in town.
A touch of class
For a touch of class, try Chloe’s – a tiny place tucked away down some steps in Princess Street behind the Civic Centre. It’s not cheap but you’re paying for the passion of French master chef Didier Franchet (and for the pleasure of eating a sumptuous evening meal while a professional pianist tickles the ivories of a Baby Grand).
One of Plymouth’s most unusual restaurants is tucked away in a 15th century tower set on the sea wall near the Royal William Yard. The Artillery Tower at Firestone Bay is the perfect place to steep yourself in Plymouth’s rich maritime history while you feast on home-cooked local produce and gorgeous views of Plymouth Sound and the Mount Edgcumbe country estate in Cornwall.