Rocky Bottoms – “You shall have a fishy when the boat comes in”
April 6, 2018
Easter weekend, 2018 and the weather was disappointing to say the least; at times the rain was unremitting.
The sea off Weybourne beach was rough, and an uninviting shade of muddy brown.
“Imagine if you were a crab or lobster in that water, you couldn’t see a thing” a local chef observed “It must be like swimming in a washing machine”. Apparently they were being hurled ashore by the surf, washed up dead on the shingle beach.
So it was not altogether surprising to find that Rocky Bottoms have sometimes been having difficulty meeting demand since they re-opened after their winter break. On the day we booked there were no whole fresh crabs or lobsters on the menu, but they had baked crab; crab garlic & chilli linguine; we chose a fantastic crab and lobster “tart of the catch”. The chefs are being inventive: chowder, prawns, local mussels and a seafood curry all sounded lovely.
Richard Matthews has been fishing off Weybourne beach for 35 years. When I first started going to Weybourne, I think there were about half-a-dozen boats hauled up on the shingle; now there are just two. One is the Anna Gail, one of the increasingly rare crab boats with a prow at each end; my uneducated guess is that it’s like having a car you can drive in either direction without having to make a three point turn!
His wife Alison is a swift and highly skilled crab dresser; in the season they have a business selling out of a cottage window in Albert Street in nearby Holt.
Rocky Bottoms opened in 2015. The 19th century building was originally a brick kiln for the London Brick Company; by the early 1950’s it had fallen into disuse and was used for farm storage. It was derelict by the time the Matthews family came to renovate it. Their vision is to add value to Richard’s catch, and to serve the freshest crab and lobster you will eat anywhere.
I once asked him what’s special about his crabs and lobsters. “Ah well” he said, (if you’re old enough, his accent has a touch of The Singing Postman about it) they’re as fresh as they can be – straight off the boat and into the kitchen”.
The couple have an instinct for hospitality and like to see people having a good time. There are deckchairs on the grass outside, where you can enjoy a takeaway picnic of their seafood, or just a snooze after eating lunch on the terrace.
The Bring Your Own policy is £2.50 a glass, which means per person – so a couple can share their bottle of wine for £5 corkage, or a table of four for £10.
Rocky Bottoms stands in a field off the main coast road, outside West Runton, with a view of the sea over the clifftops. You can walk off lunch with a stroll along the cliffs, and down the lifeboat slipway onto the sandy beach.
Be patient while the seas calm down and Richard catches up. The freshest seafood is worth waiting for. As the song says: “you shall have a fishy on a little dishy, when the boat comes in”.
Rocky Bottoms, Cromer Road, West Runton, Norfolk, NR27 9QA 01263 837359
Open Sunday – Thursday 10am – 5pm, Friday & Saturday 10am – 8pm