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The Company Shed is primarily a fishmonger, but this café is a hugely successful side-line 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. Customers squeeze around rough-hewn communal tables and are expected to bring their own bread and wine, but no one cares when the prize is the freshest shellfish and crustacea imaginable: try the mighty seafood platter loaded with half a crab, prawns (peeled and shell-on), smoked mackerel, smoked salmon and a giant, juicy crevette. Lobster is often available too, along with other treats that the boats have brought in. No fuss, no frills, no bookings and cash only, but “worth the two-hour drive from London” insists a fan.
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),...
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