The campaigning restaurant guide for people who want to eat fish – sustainably

In Partnership with Marine Conservation Society

River Cottage - Axminster Canteen and Deli

Trinity Square, Axminster, EX13 5AN

01297 631862

Fish2fork Rating
4.5 Blue Fish

Last rated: 28/09/2011

What we say

Although the Canteen doesn't have a written fish policy, they do lead the way in serving sustainable fish: Lyme Bay pollack, mackerel, sardines, gurnard, megrim sole and other species that are on the MCS list. They avoid trawled or farmed fish, and only have three fish or shellfish dishes a day on the menu. Everything is carefully sourced and they have a close working relationship with their suppliers. This is fundamental to everything they do. The website also contains a report on Hugh's Fish Fight - our only minor suggestion is the menu should highlight this further for the benefit of those customers for whom the campaign and explicit concerns on sustainability may have slipped off-radar. Otherwise, we wish every town had such a Canteen.

What they say

River Cottage is the most sustainable place to eat in the UK, according a recent report by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). River Cottage HQ, run by Head Chef Gill Meller at Park Farm, scored a hugely impressive 87% while counterpart Tim Maddams and his team at the Axminster Canteen notched 84% in the SRA's comprehensive sustainability star rating.

About River Cottage - Axminster Canteen and Deli

Part of The River Cottage family, the Axminster Canteen and Deli puts into regular practice Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall’s simple and exemplary philosophy: good, seasonal food cooked with care, energy and honesty at affordable prices. The formula sounds simple but it is rarely achieved with such unpretentious success as it is here. Meals are served throughout the day, and the menus change constantly as produce arrives from local farms and fishermen. Dinner reservations are recommended, otherwise simply drop in for breakfast, lunch or a snack.

The atmosphere is easy-going and friendly, the down-home decor is down-to-earth stripped wood, painted brick walls, open kitchen and bare tabletops; a touch sixties muesli-belt maybe, but the key to the heart of the operation is in the outsize colour photographs that hang on the walls. Plus a menu that makes you want to eat every dish. For breakfast there may be Smoked Dorset rare breed streaky bacon bap (£3.75) or oaty drop scones with honey or butter, and from the deli menu, a honey roast organic ham, blue cheese and caramelised onion toasted sandwich (£6.50). Main dishes might include Dorset mushroom pelt risotto with Ticklemoor goats’ cheese; Cornish mussels with cider, leeks, bacon and bread (£10); or Scottish creel caught langoustine salad. Pan-roasted pollack with carrots, bacon, celeriac, cabbage, onion and gremolata is among the most expensive but even that comes in at a more-than-reasonable £14. For dessert, don’t miss Hugh’s rich chocolate cake and dairy ice-cream and butterscotch sauce.

River Cottage - Axminster Canteen and Deli