Dining out at The Boatyard, Leigh on Sea
PUBLISHED: 10:18 05 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:18 05 June 2017
Although sometimes overshadowed by its big sister Southend, Leigh on Sea was voted the happiest place to live in the UK in 2016. It’s also home to an eclectic mix of eateries. One such place is the Boatyard Restaurant on the Quayside in Leigh
Purchased 17 years ago by John Cross, this former trawler shed sat empty for seven years before planners and English Heritage granted the permission to create a 300 cover restaurant. Today it has one of the finest views of the Thames Estuary and the local nature reserve, Two Tree Island, from its glazed far wall, which also overlooks a huge deck the length of the building.
This year, a new outside bar has been created to complement the two pergolas with wind-shielding removable sides, so you can soak up the waterside ambiance whatever the weather. Inside the restaurant has a mezzanine floor and downstairs the planking was salvaged from Bognor Regis Pier. Central to the restaurant is a bar in the shape of a ship’s bow. This sparkling chrome prow dominants the ground floor yet retains a stylish air with bar seating all around.
The restaurant offers a set menu for a very reasonable £16.95 for three courses, but I was steered towards the a la carte by the Boatyard’s seafood tartlet of the day.
Smoked cod and salmon with prawns in a cheesy sauce served with crisp, dressed salad leaves and sweet chilli dressing. As I enjoyed the starter, which was really rather good, I noticed the Boatyard regularly hosts musical entertainment nights.
This month there are two, an Elvis and a Queen tribute, and both the a la carte and a set menu are available. There is plenty of fish on the daily menus, including Dover sole and catch of the day, plus my preference, which was oven-baked whole sea bass fillet with baby prawns and a cherry vine tomato and shallot salsa rounded off with herb dressing.
There’s also plenty of meaty picks too, including marsh-fed lamb, fillet steak and free range chicken. My sea bass was beautifully presented, as was my starter, and served with more delicious crisp salad leaves. I ordered a side of sautéed potatoes, which arrived perhaps a little overdone for my liking, but tasted delicious. My waitress, Michelle, was quick to notice and offered to credit my bill due to their colour. Despite my protests, she insisted I did not pay.
Dessert was a Bakewell tart with butterscotch sauce. The sponge was dotted with Morello cherries, so temptingly moist, and the syrupy sauce worked well. Not so keen to leave, I finished with a smooth filter coffee, lingering longer to enjoy more of the waterfront panorama.
Useful to know
The total bill came to £38.05 for three courses with drinks and coffee. This is an independent review, featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and wine editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.
Table Talk Clare Johnson with her boss Keith with work colleagues, Natasha and Emma.
Where do you live and what do you do?
We’re from Hornchurch and we all work for FP Mailing EC, which is a franking machine company.
What did you choose from the menu?
I had chicken stuffed with mozzarella and tomato, and Bakewell tart with butterscotch sauce.
Why were you at The Boatyard?
It was Natasha’s 40th birthday (front right) so we all went out for an office lunch to celebrate.
Describe your dining experience in a phrase:
This is a restaurant with a beautiful outlook and a lovely building, which is just a really nice place to go.
How would you rate their value for money?
Keith wouldn’t let us look at the final bill, so I’m not entirely sure. I’d say the prices are top end, but then the food and the service is so good you don’t mind paying that when it’s that good.
Worth visiting again?
Yes, I’m already planning a return visit with my husband and our children.
What was the best part of your visit?
The service was outstandingly good and the food was out of this world.
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The Boatyard Restaurant
Three more places to discover in Leigh on Sea
We say: Enjoy more views of the estuary and it’s just a stone’s throw from the beach. Check out the Toulouse Fruit de Mer.
We say: Although there are no river banks or sand in sight, you will find delicious classic dishes and contemporary fine dining.
We say: With an open ‘no secrets’ style kitchen and Mediterranean menu, this bistro boasts an outdoor dining terrace with more views of that fabulous estuary.