The thing we love the most about the Spiny Lobster is the beautiful quality of fresh seafood we see day after day, year after year.
The luxury of having a daily changing menu keeps us all on our toes, trying exciting new dishes every day and allow us to see the different types of fish that arrive daily through our fishmongers. This is a real treat.
We will only buy what is fresh and sustainable and we are so serious about this we even make everyone take two days off a week because we can’t promise and deliver fresh fish on the days the markets are closed.
We are extremely lucky to work with such a wonderful selection of fresh fish that is auctioned every day at the market straight from the day boats. The selection we see is vast and varied and in all shapes and sizes.
We have created a seasonal fish chart not only to help you decide what fish to choose but when to choose it and why.
There are many factors that influence the seasonality’s of fish such as water temperatures, weather changes, breeding seasons, tides, and currents. They all play a big part in what we see throughout the year.
So, when you are menu planning at home and want to give yourself the most prime fish, we are here to assist with our easy guide to fresh fish. Our knowledge, experienced staff, and close working relationships with all of our suppliers have helped us create a monthly chart showcasing the wide range of produce from our Native waters. Not to mention Barneys words of wisdom, expertise, and awesome stories of his fishing trips that all contribute to why we are so serious about the product we sell and that only the best will do.
Enjoy the chart and let us know if there is anything we can help with.
September – February
One of the finest fish found in our local seas, Dover Sole has always been up there with the ‘prime’ fish, sadly because of that being one of the higher priced fish on the market, but worth every penny. With its meaty like texture it has a delicate, sweet and mild unique flavour. This amazingly juicy fish is packed tightly with small flakes leaving your mouth watering at every bite. The king of the Sole family can come in various sizes so great for sharing. Alternatives to Dover Sole are the more affordable Lemon Sole and the Sand Sole, all found on the bottom of the sea beds, providing equally delicious flavours. Watch our Spiny@Home video with Head Chef Charlie, on how to cook Dover Sole in your own kitchen, using very simple recipe techniques with our very own Spiny butters.
June – September
For some months of the year outside of Native lobster season we joke about changing our name to “Spiny No Lobster” this is because we will only sell what we believe to be the best, freshest and of highest quality lobster that the South West coast gives us. From Newlyn to St Ives these lobsters are beyond the finest delicacy in the sea and we are proud to specialise in such a delight. With their sweet succulent flavour, and meaty texture, the distinctive taste of lobster gives such a unique mouthfeel that makes you just want more. Depending on the weather as to how warm the waters are, we see Native Lobster season from late April to when we are lucky, late October. It is a great way to showcase just what we do and truly celebrate special occasions.
Wild Sea Bass
January – December
Head Chef Charlie’s favourite fish, this fine delicate white fish has a subtle sweetness with a delicious firm but flaky texture. So popular amongst seafood lovers that they put a fishing ban on this species in February and March to allow them to rejuvenate the fish stock. Giving us the best months of Sea Bass season being from early Spring to Late Autumn. Sea bass is a great choice of fish for those who are unsure on seafood and slightly cautious when it comes to looking for something least “fishy”. Sea Bass is a secure safe bet that will convert you into a wonderful world of seafood. Line caught off the day boats of Brixham you even get a little tag with the name of the fishermen and the boat which it was caught on. When not buying wild Sea Bass, farmed Bass is of a great quality as a cheaper alternative, and available throughout the year.
April – January
A close resemblance to the sole family, this common diamond shape flat fish has a beautiful flesh with bright luminous orange spots. When choosing fresh fish, the brighter the spots is a good indicator as to how fresh the fish is, always ask Barney the Fishmonger if you are not sure. Often found as a great choice for fish in breadcrumbs it makes a scrumptious fish and chip supper, in the Spiny and at home, as well as excellent value for money. Plaice is a soft white fish with a juicy fine texture and firm white flakes. Mainly available with us during the months of April to October when it is outside their spawning season.
April – August
This fish is described by the fishermen as “The king of Fish” one of the finest fish to swim the shores of the British Isles. It is the cousin of the lesser known but equally beautiful tasting Brill. A great family sharing fish, perfect to roast and makes a great alternative to the usual Sunday lunch for those who like to take our fish home! These wonderful large fish live up to their reputation when it comes to seafood heaven. The turbot is best caught and best value between April- June and September- November, see our Spiny@home video of head chef Charlie cooking a whole Turbot for the best recipe ideas.
When we think sardines we think two things, holidaying in Portugal or somewhere hot with a BBQ and a nice glass of chilled wine, or we think sardines in a tin. Both actually equally desired. Sardines are a great nutrient whichever form we eat them in, they are a rich source of calcium and vitamin D and are classed as one of the three healthiest fish you can eat. They are often used as bait as they are so widely popular, sardines swim in schools so they come plentiful, ready for the fishing boats to catch hundreds at a time, making them one of the cheapest fish available, so thankfully we can enjoy them for most of the year.
January – December
Where do we start with Bream? from pink to black, wild to farmed, gilt head to pig faced, there are over 100 different types of this popular fish. They have become more popular in the warmer waters and seen most often on menus in Spain and other parts of Europe, more commonly known as Dorada. Bream has a delicate and sweet flavour with a medium to soft flesh texture which produces small flakes of fish, and perfect cooked plainly. Farmed Bream are one of the higher quality farmed fish and are of excellent value for money all year round. Bream is a great fish for cooking in paper in the French style ‘En papillote’ as well as roasting, grilling or pan frying, see our Spiny@Home video for great recipe ideas from Head Chef Charlie on how to cook your own beautiful Bream.
Devon Brown Crab
April – November
Here at Spiny Lobster we love the crab season as much as the Lobster season and we are lucky to have it for longer periods of the year. A great way to fully unwind with all the tools and get lost in your self whilst indulging on one of the finest shellfish the sea has to offer. The perfect long lunch, when all you need is some bread and mayonaise and a nice glass of wine. We are lucky to have Devon crabs on our door step for most of the summer and spring into early Autumn. You may have tried one amongst our shellfish platters in the restaurant, during lock down from the fishmongers, or even on one of our monthly jazz and shellfish nights. There are two distinctive flavours, the sweet, flakey white meat and the richer, saltier, stronger tasting brown meat, not only are they great to enjoy just on their own, but they also make great pasta dishes, both in the Spiny and at home! Don’t be put off by the look of a whole crab, its easier than you think, if unsure watch our Spiny@Home video on how to crack a crab, expertly cracked and prepared by our Head Chef Charlie. If you’re still not keen at getting that messy, speak to the fishmonger and we will dress or prepare it for you however you require. Get cracking!
April – November
Red Mullet is a Spiny speciality, we get excited when it appears on the menu, a chef and staff favourite, if we are ever lucky enough to have it for staff dinner. Fantastic served with a crispy skin, this fish oozes flavour, it has its own distinctiveness to really stand out. A great textured fish with a pink rusty flesh, excellent for grilling or roasting. Red Mullet’s availability varies throughout the year, depending on the weather and the tides, it is usually at its best in September, November and January. Often confused with red snapper, this oily fish is delicate, with a shellfish flavour, tender white flakes and is full of juicy goodness. For best ways how to cook red mullet see our Spiny@home video for recipe ideas.
January – March / June – October
Like Sardines, Mackerel is another great value, healthy and tasty fish. A great addition to the world of tinned fish really providing all the healthy goodness of omega 3, fatty acids and vitamins our bodies crave. Equally beautiful simply cooked over fire, poached, smoked, baked or any way you choose to enjoy. A simple fish that only really needs a squeeze of lemon so long as its super fresh, the fish will speak for itself. It has a succulent, juicy, oily flavour with a light aroma. With its impressive blue, green, silver shiny skin, mackerel will always be one of the most satisfying, exceptional value, delicious dishes you will eat. We personally love it with pickled cucumber and our homemade horseradish. We are fortunate to have Mackerel all year round apart from the coldest months of December and January.
January – December
This obscure looking creature, otherwise known as St Piere or Peters Fish due to the large black spot on either side of the cheek where the story of St Peter’s thumbprint comes from, is as beautifully tasting as it is ugly. John Dory is one of our favourites, as we say, not the best looking fish but of the most delicious, with its flat, oval shape body and long row of spines running along its dorsal fin. This great fish has a firm texture with a mild sweet flavour that leaves a buttery taste just melting in your mouth. Similar to Red Gurnard and great for roasting, John Dory are best in the deep seas of the later months of December to August.
A great alternative to squid, Cuttle makes the most wonderful crispy calamari as well as being braised in its own ink and cooked Arroz Negro style. It is equally as good simply grilled over a bbq with olive oil and sea salt. A surprisingly better value option to squid, as it is so readily caught just off our coast in large supply, and full of protein, just pop a plate of cuttlefish in the middle of a table and watch it disappear in seconds. Cuttlefish is best caught on the South West coast In shallow waters using pots, it has always been bought mainly by the European markets where Spain, Portugal and France find it hugely popular, you will have no doubt eaten it many times in restaurants on holiday, now you can enjoy it fresher locally! Ask your fishmonger to clean and prepare it for you ready to go. January to October we are lucky to have this local cephalopod in season, daily delivered fresh from the market to our door.
September – April
Oysters have a reputable name as being an aphrodisiac, luxury and much like marmite, different for everyone, one thing not everyone knows however, is just how good for you they are, rich in protein, minerals, and Omega 3. These relatively small shellfish can range in flavour from creamy and sweet to coppery and briny, this all depends on the type and location they are harvested; there are two different breeds, native (flat) and pacific (rock). They live in shallow waters along the coasts in the seabed’s and can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. They spawn in warmer months, so peak harvesting season is from September – April.
January – March
Mussels are a favourite among us Brits spending as much as £27 million a year on the beloved shellfish. With a sweet mushroom undertone flavour, they can absorb the flavours of other ingredients well and are commonly served with lots of sauce perfect for soaking up with a bit of bread. Farmed on long lines for 12-24 months in northern Atlantic shores between high and low tides these bivalve molluscs are normally farmed between October and March and are high in iron and great for the heart!
April – August
Will be updated shortly…
July – August
Samphire is native to the UK and breeds in few other places in the world, with a distinctive salty crisp flavour you can’t go wrong pairing it with a lovely piece of fish. There are two forms of Samphire bur more commonly used in food is marsh samphire as rock samphire tends to have a strong bitter flavour. It looks not too dissimilar to baby asparagus and blooms white flowers, it can be eaten raw in salads or cooked, be warned it is very salty raw but can be boiled for a few minutes to make it less intense. Samphire typically grows in shorelines or on salty mudflats and is one of few species of succulent that can grow in such high salt locations and is typically picked from July-August.
Meet our fishmonger, Barney
Bristol born and bred from just round the corner in Cotham, Barns is not a stranger to the hospitality industry, with 30 years working in a number of highly thought of venues across Bristol from The Pony & Trap, Primrose, The Glass boat & Blue goose.