Mersea Island is home to father-and-son team Richard and Joe Haward, producers of some of the finest farmed flat oysters in the country. Richard's wife Heather, meanwhile, runs one of the best seafood eateries (she won't allow it to be called a restaurant) in the area: The Company Shed. The Haward's deal almost exclusively with the local fishermen who land their catches daily, literally on their doorstep and though everyone should dine at The Company Shed at least once in their life, its main function is as a fishmonger's.
You don't visit The Company Shed for its opulent decor - Formica tables are as posh as it gets - and you don't go for fancy recipes since there are none; you go because you love seafood. And you eat it here in the proper way: with your fingers and nothing added, save a generous hunk of fresh, crusty bread and a glass of ice-cold white plonk - extras that you must bring yourself. The Shed sells fish and nothing else.
The house specialty is, of course, the flat oyster (available per dozen, available September to April). Washed down with as much Tabasco as you can handle, this is a glorious way to warm yourself up for the main event, such as the seafood platter (£8 a head). Then there's lobster (£8.50/lb), luscious crab or smoked salmon - the best I've tasted. You could also load your plate with huge, juicy crevettes shipped in from the Med, giant creamy prawns, succulent local cockles, roll-mop herrings, smoked mackerel, and Norfolk or green-lipped mussels.
If you love fish, this is paradise.129 Coast Road, West Mersea, Essex. Tel 01206 382700