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High 5: Lyme Regis restaurants

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Alexandra-Hotel

Situated on the Jurassic coast, deep within west Dorset, lies the seaside town of Lyme Regis. After regularly visiting the community throughout my childhood I eventually discovered that, if you can withstand the overwhelming amount of tourists, you’ll find some truly remarkable restaurants.

Having just spent the last three years at university, I had gone off traditional student fare and longed for a meal that didn’t come straight from the microwave. Spying a potential holiday after graduation, I swiftly packed my bags and set off, with my girlfriend, four hours down the A303 to relive my teenage years at beachside restaurants with their freshly caught fish and fairy-tale scenery. Below are five of the best restaurants I found around Lyme Regis, each one different and unique.

Harbour InnThe Harbour Inn
A local fisherman recommended this place to me. I love nothing more than sitting adjacent to the beach, sipping a cold beer whilst listening to the waves creep up the sand as the sun starts to sink. The food isn’t bad, too; I enjoyed a generous portion of scallops with asparagus mousse. The inn itself backs onto one of the few streets that is yet to be commercialised, still complete with antique dealers and old-fashioned book shops.

Alexandra Hotel lawnThe Alexandra Hotel
I must confess I have never actually eaten a meal here but their mid-afternoon snacks are fantastic. Built on top of the cliffs, the Alexandra Hotel garden looks straight over Lyme Regis’s beaches and harbour. The hotel has its own croquet lawn, and the garden boasts beautiful flower beds; a lovely spot for an afternoon cream tea. With excellent staff and celebrated chefs, I find it hard when I’m in town not to stop by for a bite and a snooze on one of the outdoor sofas.

Hix Oyster and Fish HouseHix Oyster and Fish House
I try to eat here as often as my wallet will allow, as it is quite possibly the best fish restaurant I have ever encountered. Rooted within the royal gardens above the beaches, the glass walls present you with unbelievable panoramic views of the Jurassic Coast. Food here is caught, prepared and served all on the same day. I eventually settled for a traditional fish pie and enjoyed its subtle hints of flavours unique to the area.

town-mill-bakeryTown Mill Bakery
A dining room I can only describe as a cross between a school cafeteria and a monastery refectory, this place is ideal for an early morning breakfast. You simply find a space on one of the long benches and help yourself to freshly-made bread and pastries. Proud to say ‘no’, the Town Mill Bakery refuses to serve Coca-Cola, marmalade and other products not exclusively made within the town. In fact, there is not a single edible item that isn’t made on site. Open at 8:30am for breakfast, and running right through to evening pizzas, this quirky restaurant is a real find.

Mason Arms High ResThe Masons Arms, Branscombe
Admittedly a 20-minute drive from Lyme Regis, but well worth it, it was my father who first introduced me to this pub, hidden away at the back of the peaceful village of Branscombe. At this 14th century building, adorned with traditional thatched roofs, we sat outside with glasses of wine and began to enjoy the noticeable absence of tourists. With no cars nearby, we heard only the trickle of a nearby stream. I was disappointed not to see anything unusual on the menu, but conciliated by the variety of locally brewed ales.

Tom Court

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When I first started out travel writing, twenty years ago, I was writing a weekly round-up for The Independent. The first PR agency I ever tapped into for their clients' holiday ideas was Travel PR; they were always full of great suggestions for the column and responded quickly. Over the years, I've worked with them on many occasions and their close association with AITO has always paid dividends. Nothing has changed; some of the best story ideas I get herald from them, and their response time remains very speedy. They are a pleasure to work with.

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