Smash, grab and go. It was an evening of fun: ridiculous excitement over a hammer and honing up our D.I.Y skills all in a beautiful homage to British seafood.

Bonnie Gull Seafood Café is exactly that, a café in calming tones of seaside blues and whites and the odd nautical rope here and there. It’s small but there’s never the feeling of being cramped, and there’s an air of relaxed laughter and chatter. The raw bar at the front displays a range of daily fresh shellfish caught from British shores and the menu is daily – reflecting the seasons, as well as the day’s catch.

Our starters of Dorset Palourde Clams “Bulhao Pato” and Beer Battered Queenies with the smoked paprika cocktail sauce were a revelation. The clams in their white wine sauce were exquisitely garlicky; the scallops in the batter were a fun breakaway from the norm that paired well with that paprika sauce. Those starters had me regretting my younger years of a naive dislike of seafood. How many years of clams do I have to catch up on?

Smash your whole crab

But now, I’ll get on to that hammer. The Smash Your Own Whole Dorset Crab, was quite understandably a popular dish that evening. A board with the whole crab and flame grilled brown meat is presented to you, hammer included. That earlier calm air is broken by the violence of many a hammer banging away. Flakes of my crab’s shell fly past and I try to ignore the bit that’s bounced off the wall next to me. It’s a flamboyant (and messy) way to feast, but oh, how it’s fun. The perfect way to end the week on a Friday evening. Perhaps I need to get out more.

After finally demolishing, deconstructing and vacating the crab shells of their meat, I realised I could still squeeze in dessert, clearly my D.I.Y skills had left me ready for more. And what better than the homemade whippy ice cream cone, topped with berries, the perfect seaside treat. It was a joy. Other desserts for the sweet toothed include Brighton rock, Cornish fudge, an Apple tart and more.

Whippy ice cream

Whippy ice cream

If attention to detail is the final decider in this meal, then Bonnie Gull trumps it and more – from the chalkboard with the map illustrating the day’s catch to the fresh taste of the sea in the seafood.

It’s a beautiful journey – seaside to cafe. 

Nautical ropes, Mermaid on the ladies' door, Bonnie Gull Seafood Cafe

Nautical ropes, Mermaid on the ladies’ door, Bonnie Gull Seafood Cafe

Bonnie Gull Seafood Café | 55-57 Exmouth Market, London EC1R 4QL

Prices may not seem cheap to the eye – £8 for starters, and £16-23 for mains, however the seafood is fresh and tasty, and the starters are perfect sharers. You pay for what you eat here.

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