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The Company Shed is primarily a fishmonger, but the café side of the operation is a hugely successful sideline for owners Richard and Heather Hayward, who also have an oyster farm. Located among
the salt marshes and boatyards of West Mersea, most of the catch is purchased from local fishermen, who dock just 200m along the shore. There's no kitchen and no frills here: plain, communal tables
are squeezed among benches and you have to bring your own bread and wine. Order a seafood platter and tuck into half a crab, prawns (peeled and shell-on), smoked mackerel, smoked salmon and a
giant, juicy crevette – all for £11.50. Lobster is often available too, along with other treats that the boats have brought in. No bookings; cash only.
After falling off my diet in a truly spectacular way a couple Saturdays’ back, due to Elle and her incredible lemon curd cupcakes, Elle and her incredible Stilton and walnut pasta, Percy Pigs, the ShakeAway experience, an iced bun the size of a brick filled with custard and cream, not forgetting about 11 G&Ts, gimlets and one courtesy pint of Guineas ready for St. Paddy’s Day, I slept through the Formula One but of course, I was up in time for lunch. Just.We were off to the country’s most easterly-inhabited island, to a ‘restaurant’ which apparently does not serve drink or bread (but you can get salad), where you may want to to bring your own glassware and chopping board, as well as your own condiments. But they’ll provide the seafood, don’t you worry about that. The Company Shed may be ‘BYOB’ – and then some – but it can easily handle plate upon plate of the freshest, most amazing and reasonably-priced seafood, sourced from the waters off the tide-controlled Mersea Island...
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