When was the last time you went out for a meal and you couldn’t fault a single thing?
I don’t know about you, but for me it certainly doesn’t happen often – which made a recent lunch at The Lazy Lobster in Chew Magna even more special.
Since opening in December 2018, The Lazy Lobster has made a name for itself thanks to its relaxed vibe, fresh fish and seafood delivered daily, as well as its incredibly talented kitchen team. Although the place might look pretty unimposing from the outside, looks can be deceptive: step in and you’ll find a charmingly decorated venue where – despite its Michelin guide inclusion – you’ll be made to feel incredibly welcome and relaxed.
The fish and seafood theme is clear as soon as you go through the door, from the wet fish counter at the front of the restaurant to the chippy-style white tiled walls; the mermaid, whale and starfish-adorned cushions and the little lobster details hidden throughout the venue. It’s not a massive place by any means, but it’s a charmingly quirky setup with the kitchen semi-visible through a window up the steps at the back of the room.
The Lazy Lobster team keeps things local as much as possible – including the drinks, with the owners’ son the proprietor of the multi-award winning Chew Valley Distillery.
The Lazy Lobster is a small plates restaurant with a regularly changing specials board alongside the main menu. They recommend that you order 2-3 plates per person to share, with dishes appearing at your table as soon as they’re ready rather than all at once. It’s clear that the kitchen team takes its influences from all sorts of cuisines, from traditional British pairings to European, Asian and Oriental flavours.
I’ve got to admit that the six raw, traditional oysters we started with (£18) weren’t my choice. In all honesty, I can normally take them or leave them. These Maldon beauties, though, were plump, juicy and super sweet and had been cleaned and shucked at the counter in the main restaurant before being dressed in the kitchen. They were so packed with flavour that they didn’t even need the shallot vinegar, lemon and Tabasco with which they were served.
From that point in, it was impossible to pick a stand-out dish from those we chose. From the specials board, we loved the tender and flaky grilled brill (£12.50) served with a vinegar and soy-infused Asian slaw and a super-buttery mound of rainbow chard. The earthy mushroom puree that we discovered hidden underneath the fish was an added bonus.
The griddled octopus with cheese fondue, onion and malt vinegar (£12.75) was the best octopus dish I’ve had in a long time – the tentacles nicely charred and crispy on the outside, the smokiness not detracting from their delicate flavour. They were served perched on a bed of creamy cheese fondue drizzled with a tangy thickened malt vinegar sauce plus onions three ways: buttery soft slices, crispy onion shards plus delicately pickled pink onion rings on top.
The Lazy Lobster gnocchi (£11) is one I’m going to try – and most likely fail – to replicate at home. The Tardis-like mini casserole was packed with soft, pillowy gnocchi, the flavour of the lobster running throughout. With small cubes of crisp fried chorizo, lightly pickled fennel slices and a rich, umami-laden, tarragon-spiked lobster broth it was an absolute revelation.
The gnocchi arrived at the same time as the single side dish we’d ordered: a half-head of seared crispy cabbage with a generous dousing of crab butter (£4.50) that permeated right through its layers.
And so, the final dish arrived: four plump, juicy Brixham scallops, roe thankfully still attached, dressed with just enough gochujang to add flavour but still allowing us to taste the seafood itself. The “puffed pork” detailed on the menu turned out to have an almost popcorn-like consistency, while the miso butter that had pooled around the scallops was out of this world, its salty, rich flavour so good that I might have ended up drinking it out of the shells once the scallops had gone…
Just to continue the seafood theme (and to show how unpretentious a place The Lazy Lobster is), our bill was presented to us at the end of the meal in a painted scallop shell, with the addition of two foam shrimp sweets. With the bill coming in at nearly £90, it was more than we’d normally pay for lunch out but it was well worth it for the experience, the service, the setting and, of course, the incredible food. Now to try and replicate some of these dishes at home…