Birthday celebrations at The Boatyard, Leigh-on-Sea

Jumbo king prawns with garlic focaccia

Last weekend we returned to Essex to celebrate mum's birthday. My brother had booked a table at The Boatyard in Leigh-on-Sea, which I hadn't been to before, but had heard good things about – and the summer menu looked great too.

The reservation was booked for 12:30pm and already it was fairly busy – mainly families and groups of friends enjoying the sea views. We were also entertained by a singer, whose name evades me now. He was great, also playing the guitar and belted out acoustic versions of all kinds of music – ranging from Oasis to Lionel Richie. He was very good and had a three-part set that lasted for the duration of our meal.

Let's get straight onto the food. We all decided against starters and went straight to main courses – hoping we'd have room for desserts. The summer menu boasts some lovely fresh fish dishes, platters for sharing and on Sunday, there's a Sunday sharer – a bit like a mixed grill. Plenty of choice, without being too overwhelming.

Frutti di mare platter board for sharing
I always had my eyes on a platter and had hoped someone would share. Thankfully, Mum obliged. Our waitress said the boards were big and were designed to serve between two and four people. It's definitely three or four people! I couldn't believe how much food we were presented with. We went for the Frutti di mare platter (£45). A selection of whitebait, calamari, scampi, sole goujons, salt & pepper squid, and chilli & mango king prawn skewers. Served with a bowl of fries, a side salad of rocket and tomatoes, as well as dollops of aioli and tartare sauce. It was delicious, but so much food. The salt & pepper squid was my favourite, although the calamari was light, and the whitebait, crisp. The prawns were delicious too, the chilli & mango sauce, spot on. I regretted eating the skewer first and longed for more prawns.

Alfie had the goujons and chips from the kids’ menu and he would have been better off just sharing the bits off our board – as we needed the help, and he didn’t eat that much. He ate all the chips and had a few spoons of baked beans before picking at the fish.

Ash went for the famous fish and chips (£17): two large pieces of chunky cod with thick chips, tartare sauce and mushy peas. Again, there was no scrimping on portion size, particularly with the fish – one piece would have been sufficient. I didn't try any, but it looked great. And Rob went for the jumbo king prawns (£25) – and boy, were they jumbo alright! So juicy and succulent – in a white wine, garlic and parsley butter sauce. While they came with a garlic focaccia, he also ordered a side of fries. I have to admit I got a little food envy.

Had we not planned a trip to Norfolk where Cromer crab is very much on the agenda, I'd have taken a chance on the seafood platter: Cromer crab, cockles, winkles, smoked salmon, prawns, shrimps, and mussels. Honestly, there's nothing better when you're by the sea. Sitting and watching the world go by, with a couple of those polystyrene pots, simply taking in the sea air – just wonderful. Anyway, I digress…

Fruit medley platter board, with Greek yogurt and granola pots
Heaven knows how, but we had room for dessert. A scoop of Rossi's (only the best!) strawberry ice cream for Alfie; the Dessert of the Day for Rob, which was a super indulgent honeycomb cheesecake; and then for the three of us (mum, Ash and I), the fruit medley sharing platter (£12). Again, 100% suited for three to four people. We had a ramekin of Greek yoghurt topped with honey, two ramekins of crunchy granola, and so much fruit. From passion fruit and peach to grapes and raspberries, blackberries too, and more classic fruit like apples and orange segments. Such a nice way to end the meal. It was definitely a good choice, despite there also being a doughnut platter and create your own ice cream sundae – both sound yummy!

The service was great throughout and our waitress, Ashleigh was friendly and knowledgeable. Ash had wanted an IPA and she mentioned The Boatyard have brewed their own. So, he tried that on her recommendation. We were also given a sample that ended up equating to around half a pint. It was night and light, although had a bitter aftertaste. I’m not really a beer person though.

The Boatyard is definitely a place suited to an occasion – even if it is seeing family or friends after so long. I would definitely return when back home. There are some lovely walks and areas of the beach are nice too. We ended up going for a walk after a meal, just alongside the railway track, which goes from Leigh to Southend. We didn’t make it that far!

Love, Lucy xx

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Love, Lucy xx

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