Top 25 South Coast restaurants to visit by boat

Peter Cumberlidge names his favourite South Coast restaurants and explains how to get to them by boat


Abarbistro (Metropolitan bistro)

Gunwharf Quays Marina has a wide range of eateries nearby, from cutting-edge trendy to chillingly mundane, but a pleasant stroll round the Millennium Walkway takes you to the cheerful Abarbistro (pictured below) on White Hart Road.

This attractive modern restaurant in Old Portsmouth has some mouth-wateringly creative cooking.

  • Tel: +44 (0)2392 811585 Web:
  • Signature dish: Rib-eye steak with roasted onion sauce
  • Proximity: 20 minutes stroll from Gunwharf Quays
  • Approx cost: £55 (three-course meal for two exc. wine)


Hythe Marina

La Vista Italian Restaurant (Modern Italian)

Hythe is my favourite marina in the Southampton area, with its calm residential vibes and fascinating views across Southampton Water.

You see the Hythe ferry shuttling to and from its long landing pier, where a miniature railway takes passengers out to the steps.

If you stay here a few days, La Vista is an attractive, enjoyable and reliable place to eat without breaking the bank. A good Italian restaurant is hard to beat and La Vista has all the familiar classics plus some interesting specials.

  • Tel: +44 (0)2380 207730 Web:
  • Signature dish: Risotto of the day
  • Proximity: Right on Hythe marina
  • Approx cost: £48 (three-course meal for two exc. wine)

Brawn's of Cowes


Brawn’s Restaurant (Anglo-French)

Everyone has a favourite restaurant or gastro pub in Cowes. Mine have certainly changed over the years, but now I always make for the estimable Brawn’s (pictured above).

Not far north of Cowes Yacht Haven at 62 High Street, Brawn’s occupies a fine old Georgian butcher
shop and has a small but tempting menu which includes first-class seafood but also superlative island beef.

The dining room has a rather nostalgic ‘Anglo-French’, almost clubby style. Few other Cowes eateries can rustle up a roasted pigeon breast to start! The wines are notable.

  • Tel: +44 (0)1983 242144 Web:
  • Signature dish: Isle of Wight sirloin steak
  • Proximity: 10 minutes walk from marina
  • Approx cost: £75 (three-course meal for two exc. wine)

Yarmouth IoW

Salty's at YarmouthSalty’s (English bistro)

Despite its ever-increasing popularity, the town of Yarmouth on the north-west of the Isle of Wight is a timeless gem and always a pleasure to visit, especially early or late in the season.

Once ashore we invariably gravitate towards Salty’s Restaurant and Bar (pictured right), near the harbour in Quay Street. You can eat in the downstairs bar or the quieter upstairs restaurant.

Fish and shellfish are the stars here (don’t miss the bouillabaisse or the crab bisque), but the slow-roasted lamb is the business too.

  • Tel: +44 (0)1983 761550 Web:
  • Signature dish: Salty’s classic bouillabaisse
  • Proximity: 3 minutes walk from harbour
  • Approx cost: £65 (three-course meal for two exc. wine)

Egans Lymington


Egan’s (English)

This calm restaurant in Gosport Street is a short walk from Lymington Town Quay. I like Egan’s for its essential Englishness, even though the menu has some winning French touches. You get a good rack of lamb here and the sumptuous turbot delice is a superb choice.

Egan’s occupies the former Lymington Police Station, built in the late 1800s to stop smuggling taking place at the inn opposite, which somehow provides a reassuring sense of stability.

While new owners have taken over this year, Jane and I ate at Egan’s recently and things seemed just as they should be.

  • Tel: +44 (0)1590 676165 Web:
  • Signature dish: Turbot delice with seafood pilaf
  • Proximity: 15 minutes walk from Town Quay
  • Approx cost: £65 (three-course meal for two exc. wine)

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