Dimpsey Days: Rockfish, Exmouth

You’ve probably guessed that here at Dimpsey, we’re a foodie family and we love to share our finds with you.

Many of our guests come to Dimpsey to escape the busy and often cook a meal here at the shepherd hut one night and then go out somewhere to eat on one of their other days.

So, naturally, we want to make sure that you all have the pick of the best places to go.

We only recommend places that we’ve eaten at and then only the ones who serve great food and look after their customers. We do everything we can to ensure that you enjoy your stay with us and we don’t want the memory of a bad experience elsewhere to break that bubble.

It’s Emma here, and I thought it might be useful if I start to write a blog when we’ve eaten somewhere, so that gradually I build up a library of our reviews that you can read, right here on the website.

First up to the plate is Rockfish in Exmouth.

This one isn’t on the doorstep, but it’s well worth the journey and Exmouth is a lovely place to visit.

Andrew and I first went there a few years ago, to recover from a couple of shaky landings at Exeter Airport. We’d flown back from Dublin and the pilot had issues putting the plane down! It was a little scary and once we cleared customs and found the car, we decided that lunch was most definitely in order. I hit google and Rockfish came up, and as we’d spent quite some time looking down at Exmouth as we circled waiting for the pilot to try landing again, we decided we would go there.

The meal was fabulous and sitting beside the estuary, watching the boats go by, was a great way to calm the nerves!

So, when we were trying to think of somewhere to go to celebrate our eldest and his girlfriend handing their University dissertations in, Rockfish came to mind as our son loves seafood.

So on a rainy Sunday afternoon, we set out for a 2pm table that we’d booked online. All very easy to do and we’d selected to sit out on the covered terrace as I thought that would be nearer the river views.

The 50 minute drive down there is fairly straightforward – we just went down for the meal, but you can spend the day in Exmouth, or there are some lovely stopping off points along the way, Darts Farm being a particular favourite of mine!

We were greeted on arrival and taken to our table, my hunch was right and we had a lovely video of the river. Although rainy, there were people out sailing and the view wasn’t completely obscured by cloud. The day cleared as we sat there though, so by the end of the meal, skies were blue and the view was glorious.

The tables are spaced well, so you’re not on top of each other which I like when you’re out eating, there’s noting worse than clashing chairs with the person behind you if you move.

History of The Rockfish

Rockfish founder Mitch Tonks, opened his first fishmongers in 1996 and is a fishmonger, chef, restauranteur and CEO. He’s written 7 cookbooks, has 9 restaurants in the South-West and also delivers fresh fish to people’s homes via the Rockfish online seafood market. He is passionate about British fishing and fishermen, as well as sustainability, both in business practices and conserving fish supplies for future generations.

I didn’t know all of the above before we went to Rockfish, but I signed up for emails and found out about the online seafood market and that intrigued me, so I headed off and found some more information. It certainly explains why the seafood we ate was so fresh! I love it when someone you go has a really good back story.

The variety and freshness of the fish on offer also explains the quirky tablecloth menu that Rockfish have. Given that the menu is governed by the catch of the day, your tablecloth lists all the possible options and then you are talked through what is available. The options are circled on the tablecloth with a trusty Sharpie pen, with the specials handwritten on, with prices. There is a menu as well that lists all the dishes and sides etc – our drink orders were taken and delivered while we contemplated our choices.

The menu options were so good that it was tricky to choose between them. We ended up ordering the monkfish scampi, crispy fried tempura vegetables, salt and pepper Brixham calamari and the Leigh-on-Sea cockles with bread and butter and shared them between us as a starter.

Our Meal

The starters were served fairly promptly, but one dish lagged slightly behind the others. It wasn’t something we were particularly bothered about, but the Rockfish team were straight on it and came over, apologised and refunded the dish on our bill. Their service was exemplary and I was seriously impressed – it wasn’t like 3 of us had finished our starters and one was still waiting. Really great customer service by the Rockfish team.

For our main courses we chose traditional fish & chips, chargrilled bream with Greek salad and Andrew & James had the Platter of ‘fruits de mer’ for 2 to share.

While we were eating our starters, one of the platters was delivered to the table next door, and of course we had a sneaky look at it – excitement levels were very high for the main course based on that!

Our starters were gorgeously presented, expertly cooked and tasted amazing and our mains were served soon after we finished, just the right amount of gap between courses.

We had to clear a sharing space on the table between Andrew and James for their sharing platter and then the mains arrived.

Again, beautifully presented. The platter was a large bowl of crushed ice with copious amounts of seafood (prawns, oysters, crab meat, mussels and cockles) arranged on top. They’d opted to swap a couple of oysters for more prawns but kept two to try eating them again.

Our Review

You know that ‘try something 7 times’ mantra, they were adopting that as last time they tried them they weren’t great fans. These oysters were superbly fresh and they pronounced that they were “so much better than last time”, but I’m not sure that they’re ever going to be oyster fans!

The fish & chips were also pronounced superb, the batter was perfectly crisp and the chips were excellent.

My sea bream was delicious and the Greek salad was a great accompaniment. I’d been a bit unsure when I ordered it, but once I’d tasted it I was converted. In fact, I may well order some fish from the Rockfish online seafood market and try to recreate this one at home.

Really we should have stopped there, because we were all pretty full! However, special occasions absolutely need to have puddings involved, so we all rounded off our meals with crème brûlées. The brûlées were absolutely superb, perfectly crunchy on top and lots of vanilla in the crème – delicious!

So that was it, we headed home, happy foodies and a couple of passenger snoozes in the car. I really can’t fault the meal at all and would highly recommend a visit.

Useful tip : There is a Marks & Spencer in Exmouth if you want to stock up on some treats!
Dimpsey distance : 26 miles

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