Getting to The Anchorstone Cafe in Dittisham is for some, a logistical nightmare, and for others (including me!) an amazingly fun adventure. After following a windy and beautifully scenic country road from the Torbay town Paignton, visitors come to a dead end and are faced with crossing the sparkling River Dart. A bunting laden passenger boat with an operator who looks like he’s worked on the river for his entire life is the only way to cross. He’s called to attention by a huge ships bell and in his own time, floats across to take you to the other side where locals loll in the sun catching crabs.
The Anchorstone ain’t really a cafe, its a very relaxed restaurant that offers a full menu specialising in locally sourced seafood, wines and ales. It’s a few metres inland so that its decking area has stunning views directly overlooking the river. It’s heaven, simple, rustic and relaxing, and instantly fills you with that warm ‘I’m on holiday’ feeling that occurs whenever wine and sunshine are combined. I kept that holiday glow with me throughout my long, lazy lunch as it wasn’t just the setting that impressed, but the friendly staff and the delicious food.
We all ate simply executed and utterly fantastic dishes. I got soft and juicy skatewing panfried with a tart caper butter and served with a huge crunchy salad and decent chips (£11.95), my sister ‘Edward’s Elberry Cove’ big fat mussels cooked in a sweet and creamy local cider sauce and chips (£11.95).
My mum indulged in the locally smoked mackeral salad, simple yet oily and rich, complimented by a fresh mixed salad and a great hunk of locally baked crusty brown bread (£8.50). My brother went for the Haddock & chips after a lot of persuasion from me to go for that as a sustainable alternative to cod. Unfortunately, they had sold out so my efforts were fruitless and so the cod it was. It was light and cooked perfectly so that the batter crunched and the fish fell apart. The portion was absolutely massive and with chips, it was definitely enough for two (£12).
The cafe really makes brilliant use of its local suppliers and resources to serve a range of dishes that are fresh, hearty and absoultely delicious. They’re very close to dedicating their entire menu to seafood caught within miles of the kitchen so it’s a shame they don’t go the whole way by only offering locally caught haddock as the fried fish of choice. If it had been my menu I would have got rid of the cod and encouraged people to get on board with their message.
It’s a glorious place to sit and dine plus with a brilliant list of local ales and wines, it’s definitely worth putting on the list for the Summer hols for the adventurous ride alone.