Tom Parker Bowles: My top ten tables with a view

Whether it’s a seaside beach shack or a riverside terrace, this is eating out at its breathtaking best

The better the view, goes the old maxim, the worse the food. And for the most part, that’s true. I’ve lost count of dreary lunches I’ve endured, gazing out over some spectacular vista. But the British restaurants below are glorious exceptions, combining alfresco beauty with gastronomic allure…

The picturesque terrace at Kent’s Fordwich Arms is next to the River Stour

Riley Fish Shack, Tynemouth

Who needs the South of France when you have Tynemouth on a blazingly sunny day? Gazing out over pristine beach and glittering sea, Riley’s serves up the finest, freshest fish, grilled over coals or cooked in the wood-fired oven. Local beers and a great wine list, too.

3 Chimneys, Isle of Skye

One of those rare places where view and food combine to create something greater than the sum of its parts, this is a true beauty. Head chef Scott Davies combines the very best local Scottish produce (scallops, langoustines, hake, beef, pigeon) with a dash of Nordic aplomb, to be devoured while gazing out over Loch Dunvegan.

The River Cafe, London

On a searing day, when the capital slows to a languid crawl, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than in the shade on the terrace here, watching the Thames snake by as I feast upon luscious veal tonnato, spaghetti alle vongole and sprightly strawberry sorbet. A true London legend.

The Fordwich Arms, Kent

An alfresco lunch (or dinner) at this wonderful pub in England’s smallest town is a truly glorious thing. There’s a terrace garlanded with flowers, looking out over the River Stour. The cooking matches the view, resolutely modern British food that never ceases to thrill and entice.

The glorious vista at the Hare & Hounds, Bath

Hare & Hounds, Bath

Growing up, Bath was our nearest city, and I’ve loved it ever since. Feast on upmarket pub food, the emphasis on locally sourced and seasonal, while sipping on a pint of ale, and drinking in the glorious view.

Squid Shack, Dundrum

From the team behind Mourne Seafood, which means tiptop offerings from the masters of the game. Battered langoustines, salt ’n’ chilli squid and prawns, as well as fish sandwiches. Grab your order, wander over the road and devour overlooking Dundrum Bay.

Michelin-starred fare at the Beach House on the Gower
Michelin-starred fare at the Beach House on the Gower

Beach House, Gower Peninsula

Wales sure knows how to do big, breathtaking beaches, and Oxwich Bay is no exception. The food easily matches the location, with Michelin- starred magic from head chef Hywel Griffith. Grab a table on the terrace (do book early, as this place is deservedly and perennially packed), and settle into one of Great Britain’s great alfresco delights.

The Hidden Hut looks out over Cornwall’s Porthcurnick beach.
The Hidden Hut looks out over Cornwall’s Porthcurnick beach.

The Hidden Hut, Cornwall

They may just have catered for the recent G7 summit, but The Hidden Hut is as modest as it is adored. Food is simple but sensational, with homemade pasties, spanking fresh grilled mackerel, big beach salads. Oh, and that view over the sublime Porthcurnick beach.

Parkers Arms, Lancashire

Sitting in the stunning Trough of Bowland, this is simply one of the finest pubs in the land. Ingredients are mainly local, a mixture of pub classics (grilled steak, pints of prawns), fish, serious puddings and dishes with international flavour. Along with some of the finest pies I’ve ever eaten. The view’s pretty special, too.

Charcoal-roasted local beets, labneh and sourdough focaccia at the Parkers Arms
Charcoal-roasted local beets, labneh and sourdough focaccia at the Parkers Arms

The Griffin Inn, East Sussex

With two acres of garden and a stunning South Downs vista, this is one of the country’s finest alfresco pubs. Get stuck into a pint of Harvey’s while tucking into anything from peerless fish and chips to slow-cooked brisket croquettes, pizza cooked in the wood-fired oven, barbecue feasts and asparagus risotto.