Of these, the perhaps the most idyllic, or romantic
is the Sportsman in Seasalter. This pub, which holds one Michelin star,
is one of a handful of restaurants in the UK attracting foodies from all over
the world. People travel to Kent from Asia, the States and god knows where else. The reason for this is simple: Stephen Harris cooks some of the finest
fish and seafood in Europe. Eating his turbot with vin jaune sauce or crab bisque, amongst other dishes is one of
those moments that one will never forget. Add to this the train journey during
which the excitement slowly builds, and the warm and welcoming atmosphere at
the Sportsman and you have one of the UK's two best places to eat seafood.
The other, is a much more urbane restaurant, even if it has precious little in common with most other top-London restaurants: Hedone. Opened by Swede Mikael Jonsson in 2011, this rest aurant has quickly become the equivalent of Makah for product fetishists. Jonsson sources and cooks some of the most incredible produce from all over the UK, and France to produce food of delicacy and precision. If even someone such as Alain Ducasse is impressed with the way in which Jonsson cooks his cod or turbot à la nacre one can safely say that he does something right. This is quite simply the restaurant with the most beautiful produce and precise cooking in the UK at the moment. Be it with seafood or meat.
Crossing the channel, three restaurants stick out. First of all, one ought to mention the perhaps least known one, internationally speaking: Sea Grill in Brussels. Here, chef Yves Mattagne produces food that is intricate, based on the finest produce available and generous. His restaurant is hardly known outside Belgium, but anyone who has eaten even a humble piece of cod, or his turbot grilled with oyster béarnaise will certainly agree with our high opinion of this man's food. It is just the kind of place that manages to produce stunning dishes in an effortless manner.
Whilst most of these restaurants serve high quality seafood
in fairly minimalistic dishes, one clearly sticks out: Oud Sluis. Chef Sergio
Herman has become a bit of rockstar in the Benelux region and Germany, but has
stayed a little beyond the radar outside of the region. Despite this, his
restaurant is booked out months on end, bearing testimony to his truly
innovative cuisine. What this rests upon are mainly two things: Incredibly good
seafood and compositions on the plates that border on madness. His collection
of langoustine or oyster feature multiple instalments of highly varied dishes
based on either of the said produce. Finding better langoustines than the ones
he serves here will be difficult, as they are simply outrageous. Similarly, his
skills when it comes to more classical preparations become evident in dishes
such as a turbot on the bone with lobster béarnaise.
The last restaurant we ought to mention in this first ‘list' of best seafood restaurants in Europe is perhaps the least well known. Despite being in Honfleur, one of the most touristic cities on the French Atlantic coast, Sa.Qua.Na has hardly made the headlines in the gastronomic press. After visiting this restaurant this seems incomprehensible, as it serves some of the most subtle and delicate seafood dishes one can find in Northern Europe. Chef Alexandre Bourdas previously served as sous-chef of Michel Bras, and later ran this emblematic chef's Japanese restaurant in Toya. When he decided to settle down in Honfleur a few years ago, he opened Sa.Qua.Na and continuously improved things, which he keeps doing. Today, one can eat dishes at this little restaurant that are quite simply arresting; for the product quality used, the precision with which fish is cooked and the simple, yet astonishing combinations. This is seafood cooking of the highest order, in a restaurant that hardly anyone has heard of.
This little list of restaurants is by no means complete, nor is it definitive. However, these establishments all serve seafood dishes featuring produce of the highest quality, precise cooking and have something unique about them. That, in our book, makes them some of the very best seafood restaurants in Northern Europe.