Recently, I spent an amazing week exploring the neighbouring islands of Tresco and Bryher in the Scilly Isles. One of the highlights of the trip was the food, which was incredible. Because importing food to the islands can be expensive, there’s a real focus on local produce and seasonal ingredients. The resulting Bryher and Tresco food scene is really impressive, and well worth exploring.
If you’re wondering where to eat on Tresco or Bryher, keep scrolling for some great restaurant recommendations. First, though, are some local suppliers that shouldn’t be missed…
Home Cooking and Local Produce
Both Tresco and Bryher are jam-packed with incredible local produce. If you’re staying in a cottage, cook for yourself a few times to make the most of the amazing Scillonian ingredients.
On Tresco, there’s a weekly market (every Tuesday between 3:30pm and 5:30pm) where you can pick up the best Scillonian seafood and farm produce. Around both islands, you’ll spot many roadside honesty stalls offering home-grown seasonal vegetables and salad, homemade jams, huge fresh eggs, and other local delicacies.
You can even forage your own ingredients, like rock samphire, wild sorrel, and sea spinach. For everything else, there’s the local grocery shop and deli at Tresco Stores, or the Bryher Shop. Look for local dairy products, tender grass-fed Tresco Beef, seasonal vegetables, and – of course – seafood. Here are some of the best suppliers to look out for:
- Island Fish Ltd, run by the Pender family, are one of the best seafood suppliers in the Scilly Isles. Head to the shop on Bryher, to their pop up shop at Tresco market, or contact them directly for same-day delivery.
- Boro Farm on Tresco supply much of the island’s vegetables, as well as fresh eggs and tender Tresco beef. Visit their farm stall or catch them at the weekly market for fresh, seasonal veg and other produce.
- Veronica Farm on Bryher, a family-run business who sell homegrown fresh and dried herbs, fresh eggs, and homemade pestos and sauces from a roadside stall with an honesty box.
- Veronica Farm Fudge. Traditional, farmhouse style fudge made from Scillonian milk, butter and cream. It’s crumbly, rich, and absolutely delicious. Buy it from their small stall at the farm, at Bryher Shop, or order it online.
Crab Shack, Bryher
One of the absolute food highlights on Bryher was the Crab Shack. Housed in a converted cattle shed adjacent to Hell Bay Hotel, this tiny little restaurant opens three nights a week during crab season. The menu is incredibly simple: you can have crab, crab, or crab. There’s also scallops or mussels to start, but crab is the main event. Diners are given Crab Shack aprons and shell crackers, and are encouraged to get messy! This informal and fun dining experience is all about sharing, getting stuck in, and enjoying some amazing fresh Scillonian seafood. Not to be missed.
Ruin Beach Cafe, Tresco
A laid back restaurant with epic beach views, the Ruin Beach Cafe on Tresco is named for the ruined smuggler’s cottage that forms part of the terrace. The heart of the restaurant is the wood fired oven, which is used to bake some amazing pizzas, as well as to roast meat and fish. Although the emphasis is on local produce, there’s a distinct Mediterranean twist at the Ruin Beach Cafe. Cornish scallops with pepper salsa, pizzas topped with Tresco beef meatballs and olives, or hake fillet with a saffron sugar snap pea risotto. The British-Mediterranean fusion here is amazing. Try the dough balls for dessert; sprinkled with crumbled pistachios and served with a thick chocolate dipping sauce.
The New Inn, Tresco
Traditional pub food, made fancy. The New Inn on Tresco is a friendly local pub with an impressive menu. There’s often live music, and the cosy lounges have a great atmosphere. The daily specials feature the best local ingredients – things like Bryher lobster and local rock samphire – while the standard menu elevates traditional British pub food, like pie and mash, into beautifully presented and really delicious dishes.
Flying Boat Restaurant, Tresco
For the very best seasonal dishes, head to the Flying Boat Restaurant on their local produce night. Open three nights a week, with a different menu every time, the food here is perfectly in sync with the seasons. With almost everything locally sourced, it’s a pretty ethical and sustainable menu, too. Megrim sole for example, which is abundant in the seas around Cornwall, is a very sustainable alternative to the more popular Dover sole. When I visited in June, the menu featured summery ingredients like asparagus from Boro Farm, Tresco new potatoes, and local strawberries.
Hell Bay Hotel
The restaurant menu at Hell Bay Hotel also changes daily, focusing on the best local, seasonal and regional ingredients. With it’s simple decor and huge windows, the light and airy dining room maximises the amazing views around the hotel. The ever-changing menu will likely feature the Pender family’s catch of the day, Tresco beef, and whatever’s in season right now. If it’s on the menu, don’t miss the chocolate mousse brownie. You can thank me later!
There’s nothing more British than afternoon tea. Devon and Cornwall in particular are famous for cream tea, and the Scilly Isles are no exception. My favourite stop was the cafe at Tresco Abbey Gardens, which has some amazing cakes on offer as well as a classic cream tea. On Bryher, the family-run Vine Cafe serves up amazing homemade cakes and cream teas, while Hell Bay Hotel offers High Tea on the lake-side terrace with gorgeous views.
There are two vineyards in the Scilly Isles which produce and sell some surprisingly good local wines. That’s right – wine from England! And it’s not too bad. You’ll find wines from St Martin’s Vineyard or from Holy Vale Wines on St Mary’s at restaurants around the Scilly Isles. Both vineyards are open for tours and tastings which make for an excellent day out from Tresco island.
Beer lovers will be excited to learn that there’s also a brewery in the Scilly Isles. The Ales of Scilly brewery on St Mary’s produces a range of local ales which can be bought online or throughout the islands.
Tresco & Bryher Food Festival
Every year, these two islands get together for an annual food festival in early autumn. This is the perfect way to explore the Bryher and Tresco food scenes, and discover the very best local produce. In 2016, the Tresco and Bryher Food Festival is taking place on the weekend of 17th September. During low tide, a seafood feast will pop up on the sandbank between the two islands. Guest chef Lisa Allen will be making an appearance, alongside some of the best local suppliers. Food lovers should not miss this!
Have I missed anything out? Scroll down to leave a comment and share your top Bryher and Tresco food tips!
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