Coastal seafood restaurant set to reveal a brand new second eatery in its building
PUBLISHED: 15:09 28 January 2019 | UPDATED: 10:36 29 January 2019
Coastal seafood restaurant to open a second floor with a new concept this spring.
It’s only a couple of years since Season, a specialist fish restaurant, opened in Wells next the Sea, following major works to the historic building, which was devastated by flooding.
And now the team is just weeks away from unveiling yet another refreshed look, with plans underway to create a brand new space, allowing the eatery to offer not one, but two dining experiences across two floors.
These plans (doubling the capacity of Season) create around 14 new jobs for the town and will mean manager Rachael Parke and head chef husband Jeremy can welcome even more customers through the doors.
“They will be quite different in style,” says Rachael of the duo of restaurants, with the fine dining experience moving to the new first floor, while a more bistro style leads downstairs.
“We want to give people the opportunity to come and see us more than once a week. If they’re on holiday they might come to us for the ‘full experience’ one day with the a la carte and a wine flight, but this new refit means they can come back another day for just a bowl of mussels or a cocktail on the ground floor.”
The upper level of the restaurant is being enhanced to make the most of the integral historic features of the building on Wells harbourside.
Rachael and Jeremy have retained a feel of much of the fabrication of the building with lots of original flintwork visible through porthole sections of the plasterwork. And rather than going down the corny sepia picture route to illustrate the restaurant’s connection to the sea, they’ve employed a local student, Rosie, to create a piece of artwork based on an alluring siren, which is being etched on the upper floor restaurant wall by a graffiti artist.
Downstairs will have some armchairs and coffee tables added, to enhance its appeal as a coffee stop, bar and casual dining eatery.
“It will be somewhere nice to sit with a glass of wine and to eat something for a decent price. It’s a whole different menu. We’ll be doing things like lobster Benedict, chowders, homemade fish cakes, oysters and a range of cakes and fresh scones.
“And cocktails will be a huge thing. We’ll make our own using local spirits such as Nelson’s Gold.”
Upstairs, the menu continues to focus on the very best fish and shellfish possible. Something Jeremy and Rachael are incredibly passionate about. “We want to represent how the seasons of food evolve around the year. So we look at what the fishermen are bringing in and we have a licence as a first buyer, so when they call us at sea we can literally meet them at the harbour and take the fish straight from the boat as long as we log it online and they do too. So we get the freshest of the fresh from the distance of a road width away straight into the kitchen. And we allow that to be seen. We don’t take deliveries around the back. We want our customers to see the fishermen and our guys collecting the fish to get the romance of it all.”
Rachael says the kitchen “doesn’t muck around” with the fish, which is allowed to speak for itself, with just a few interesting garnishes and components to enhance and complement it.
“Where we really try to be different is in our service. So we make fresh bread and serve an amuse bouche while customers are waiting and we have a really nice wine list I change regularly to complement the menu. I like to create an atmosphere people can feel really comfortable in. Somewhere they can kick their shoes off and drop cutlery on the floor. It’s not starchy.”
At the moment, while the waters are cold, mussels are in abundance. A few small lobsters are finding their way to the pots of Season, but something equally good many don’t know about is Skrei cod, which Rachael says is a perfect stop-gap fish for the season. “It’s really sustainable and last year I wrote a blog so everyone could understand it. Skrei cod travel to find their mate and they either make it, or run into a fisherman. There are thousands and thousands of them that make the journey and only a certain amount can be caught. It’s a hard journey and this makes their flesh really meaty and sweet. We love using it here.
“But some of my favourite dishes are our bouillabaisse which is inspired by a visit to the Isle of Skye where we went to a beautiful shack on the edge of the waters. And I do like the mussels, which come with different flavoured sauces. When they disappear people are disappointed but we have to explain they’re something to look forward to. A bit like asparagus.”
All being well, the new-look Season will be ready at the end of March ready for the Easter break.