Rumours of a food-fuelled town, the recent discovery one our favourite London restaurant chains had opened a B&B and the promise of some primate fun incentivised Becky and I to spend 24 hours by the sea in Lyme Regis.
Fruits of the sea
The grand feature of Hix Oyster and Fishhouse has to be the view. It looks out over the harbour, for reassurance of minimum food miles, and the rest of Lyme Bay. The adopted name of The Jurassic Coast for this stretch of Dorset is, I assume, more down to anomyte fossils on the beaches, but it could easily be down to the cliffs, from which I could easily picture any number of terodactyls swooping off. We speculated on this over a negroni and an english sparkling white with radishes with celery salt. I’d normally be a bit sceptical of a vegetable-flavoured condiment, but this worked well and added tang to a simple appetiser.
There’s no doubt where the main effort goes into in the kitchen. The Hake head, below, was visually impressive and also a great dish with clams and a white wine sauce going well with muscular fish. My John Dory didn’t have quite so much box office appeal, though was cooked perfectly and paired well with a Mendoza Sauvignon Blanc. This variety was better with food than a typical New Zealand or European equivalent grape and far nicer than the more typical Torrentes White from Argentina which doesn’t seem an essential part of any occasion.
Service at Hix has attracted the odd comment of late. We found it to the slower side of OK and perfectly acceptable for a seaside weekend – though there were a few rumbles of discontent elsewhere in the restaurant. I think there’s a tacit acceptance the vista and a bit of time to enjoy the wine is actually part of the routine here, which might not work for everyone.
Picnics in the townhouse
We were sleeping in Hix as well, his first restaurant now paired with a very convenient B&B Hix Townhouse. As art is a big feature of all the restaurants, the gaff is stylishly decorated, albeit with the odd lapsed detail such as a few plastering cracks in the bathroom, resplendent with authentic 70’s lino. Nothing that would affect your enjoyment though, and more than offset by the pufferfish light shade spied in another room and the antique one armed-bandit in the lobby.
A thing I’ve noticed a couple of times in B&Bs now is an absence of a sit down cooked breakfast, replaced by a delivery at your room, a feature here as well. Given Hix’ fishy prowess, a picnic basket with smoked salmon and rye with fruit and muesli got the morning off to a super-food fuelled start. It must be a fairly easy thing for your average B&B owner to fix, but decent coffees and teas, of which there were around ten here, is certainly more agreeable than the Nescafé I was offered at almost every turn in Glasgow recently.
Beasts of the trees
Being a bank holiday weekend, a park with 100 plus apes was expectedly rammed full of children sqeaking. The park was a bit of a contrast to Panda and Orangutan conservation establishments we’d been to recently in that it was quite a lot more condensed for human amusement. It does, though, mean you get to see a lot of them very close up, although with very close proximity to human apes at the same time. Orangutans and Gibbons the winner, but I was starting to devise a game deriving an index from multiplying the distance away people were ramming camera phones to the animals by how many prison tattoos they had or how many KGs overweight they were. The park was good fun, and clearly conservation is the aim, but it’s slightly overrun by a crowd seeking faeces-slinging primate fun.