New restaurant opening on Wells Quay is final phase of Platten’s £2m seafront regeneration
- Credit: Ian Burt
They started out frying fish by the harbour on a coal-powered range.
Now the family running one of the best-known chippies on the North Norfolk coast have finished off a £2m refurb with Season - an upmarket restaurant next door.
Luke Platten, manager of the business his great grand-parents Charlie and Doris started on the quayside at Wells in 1966, said things had come a long way since then.
Charlie and Doris probably wouldn't recognise the quay around Platten's today with its eateries, delis and galleries.
'I think Wells as a whole is raising its standards right across the board,' said Mr Platten. 'There are a lot of influences from Burnham Market starting to creep this way.'
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He added Season, which opened last night, aspired to destination eating, rather than convenience food.
Its menu is an ocean away from cod, chips and mushy peas. It features shellfish en papillote, oak plank cooked sole and grilled lobster, along with warm partridge salad and pesto arancini.
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The business is being run by manager Rachael Parke and her husband and chef Jeremy. The couple ran Relish at Newton Flotman, near Norwich, for 12 years, before deciding it was time to set sail for the coast.
'We thought this was a fantastic opportunity,' said Mrs Parke. 'They're a lovely family-run business and the North Norfolk coast is bountiful for the produce we can source. we saw this as a major career opportunity.'
Season's signature dish is a pot of bouillabaisse made for sharing. Bass, monkfish, mullet, prawns and mussels swim in a rich sauce, with hunks of homemade bread, charred potatoes, aioli and sprouting broccoli for company.
As she put the finishing touches to place settings in readiness for last night's opening, Mrs Parke admitted: 'We're really excited about it.'
For generations, Platten's chippy stood alongside a gift and beach goods shop and a bingo hall beside the harbour.
Four years ago, owner Phil Platten decided to revamp the entire site.
The four-year project was not helped by the storm surge of 2013, which left it a foot deep in floodwater.
Buildings were de-roofed, dismantled and reassembled brick-by-brick to bring them up to 21st century standards. Floors and ceilings were replaced, walls stripped and re-plastered.
Shop With a View, as the premises which is now Season was most recently known, was originally one of the fishermen's yards which led off the quay.
While the boats still unload their catches of crabs, fish and shellfish today, the seafront has undergone a major transformation.
You can still buy buckets and spades, crabbing lines and seaside rock with writing through it.
But the Golden Fleece has been transformed into a fine dining pub, while its surrounds have gone decidely upmarket.
Nearby nowadays stands the trendy Wells Deli, an art gallery and wine merchant.