Hix Oyster and Fish House - Lyme Regis, Dorset
'A very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better.' Jane Austen, ‘Persuasion’
During that preciously short but sweet period between Christmas and New Year, Mr Goodden and I fired up Babette the 2CV and embarked upon a little roadtrip adventure through the narrow holloways and windy roads of Dorset to the seaside gem of Lyme Regis.
I had heard a little about Lyme Regis, (or Lyme as the locals and Jane Austen call it) but as an Aussie beach-loving native, it wasn’t easy to see the pull of the english seaside in the dead of winter. A rocky beach with perfectly flat, freezing cold water (can you even call it a beach without sand and waves!?) It’s reputation as the capital of the Jurassic Coast (guys Jurassic park is just a film) and it’s immortalization in literature by legendary authors throughout history, makes it all very interesting but I needed a little more convincing. And I got it, in the form of a Mark Hix restaurant perched atop a cliff with panoramic ocean views. Ok Lyme Regis, come at me.
We arrived keen and early, lucky enough to check-in straight away to our digs for the evening; the cosy, homely and classically cool Hix Townhouse that rests at the top of Lyme’s main shopping street. A quick explore of our thoughtfully Hixterised ‘Garden Room’ lead us up a staircase to a stunning private rooftop, where I would certainly live on a sunny Summer’s day. But we would enjoy our home away from home later; the seagulls flying overhead were practically screeching at us to get down to the seaside.
We wandered along the cobbled Broad Street, past shop windows filled with sweet fudge treats or ancient fossils, straight down to the beach. It is from here, that you can see what everyone is going on about; the pastel coloured buildings and the tranquil lapping water in the winter sunshine is quite simply, beautiful. Further along, past pastel beach huts, a real sandy beach (!) and ‘The Cobb’ (an ancient man-made harbor) we came to the ‘Cobb Inn’ and popped in for a warming pre-lunch mulled wine … ok and a prosecco, you know me too well!
Set just up the hill is where you find the Hix Oyster and Fish House; a house made of glass and wood with the most mouthwatering aromas emanating from within. It is a bright and airy space offering magnificent views of the bay. It’s informal and comfortable, the perfect environment for ordering dessert and that extra bottle of wine. The menu is uncomplicated, made of the freshest local ingredients and very reasonably priced, I wanted to order everything. After much deliberation we decided on buttermilk fried Lyme Bay cuttlefish with hedgerow garlic mayonnaise, spicy chilli prawns and St Mary’s Bay Ling Curry for two. Needless to say, it fulfilled all of my sweet, succulent seafood cravings.
We awoke early the next morning to find a Hix Breakfast feast waiting our door. We quickly gobbled it down, pulled on the Hunter Wellys and set off in the direction of Monmouth beach (aka ‘Fossil beach’). This is what Lyme is famous for, an ancient seabed encrusted with millions of fossilized sea creatures from the Jurassic times, well worth a wander at low tide. After hours of scouring the beach for our own prehistoric souvenir to take home (and failing) we treated ourselves to a gourmet lunch of Fish and Chips on the beach. It was the perfect way to end our Lyme Regis adventure, the English seaside has definitely won over another fan.