Eating out at The Waterside Bistro in Totnes in the Heart of South Devon

Daisy Camden enjoys a delicious meal on a warm summers evening on the banks of the River Dart in historic Totnes in the heart of South Devon

Waterside Bistro Daisy Camden enjoys a delicious meal on the banks of the River Dart in the heart of beautiful South Devon

Few things can be finer on a warm summer evening than enjoying a delicious meal on the banks of the River Dart. As we settled on the riverside terrace to peruse the menu of the Waterside Bistro in the heart of Totnes, we soaked up the view – boats bobbing, families strolling over the bridge, the clink of boules being played on Vire Island.

As recommended, we were savouring a glass of Australian Madfish Sauvignon Blanc from the bistro’s extensive wine list, which encompasses an impressive range of 60 wines including Fair Trade, organic and, of course, the local Sharpham.

Chef/owner Matt Buzzo took over the Waterside Bistro six years ago with his French wife, Delphine, and chatting to him it was evident that sourcing locally was very important. With a wealth of excellent ingredients literally on his doorstep, he considers himself spoilt for choice, with seafood playing a particlarly important part on the menu. “My signature dish?” Matt replies. “Fish pie! People love it – and the fish soup and the bouillabaisse.”

Each day Matt is tipped off by his suppliers about what is the top catch of the day, and the menu tonight includes mussels from the River Teign, oysters from Bigbury Bay, crab, lobster, sea bass and squid... but for those who don’t choose fish, there are excellent Westcountry steak, lamb, duck, pork and veggie options.

We move inside just as a young family is finishing a birthday meal, and we witness the rosy-cheeked youngster’s delight as her ice cream dessert emerges with sparklers spelling out her name. As the whole restaurant sings Happy Birthday, we get an impression of just how relaxed and family-friendly the Waterside is.

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My grilled Bigbury Bay rock oyster starter combined the sweet, briny taste of the sea with a sharp Cheddar sauce; the plumpness of the oysters contrasted beautifully with the crunch of the herb topping, and there was much appreciative smacking of lips. It was accompanied by a fresh and fruity glass of Sharpham white from the renowned local vineyard.

Kitty enthused over her toasted goats’ cheese on focaccia, complemented by a rocket and sun-dried tomato salad – the perfect summer starter.

I wanted to check out Matt’s Gallic credentials with his bouillabaisse with nuggets of cod, salmon, tiger prawns and squid in a rich seafood bisque. The well-seasoned liquor had complex notes of shellfish and tomato and was eagerly mopped up with chunks of crusty French bread.

Kitty meanwhile was tasting a beautifully tender piece of filleted Devon steak (‘from the lazy part of the beast’ as Jo, our waitress, enlightened us) with a rich peppery sauce and frites. Considering herself a bit of a connoisseur of this dish, she declared that it couldn’t have been better!

Sadly the bread was to be my downfall as when the dessert menu came out, I just about had room for a scoop of vanilla Yarde Farm ice cream. Locally made, it will also soon feature in their ice cream parlour that is opening next to the Bistro. Kitty, however, had sensibly left enough room to test out a classic English pud, rhubarb crumble. “Some people come here specially for the desserts,” said our waitress. Presumably they hadn’t already eaten the amount we had!

Secretly we were both hoping the ice cream would come out decorated with sparklers to add a final flourish to a delicious evening, but as it wasn’t either of our birthdays we took the more adult route of enjoying a home-made chocolate truffle with our coffee as the Dart rolled by. 

Waterside Bistro

The Plains, Totnes


01803 864069

Proprietors: Matt and Delphine Buzzo

Head Chef: Matt Buzzo

Prices: Starters and desserts from �4.95; mains from �8.95

Sample Menu


Tomato, mozzarella and Parma ham salad

Grilled Cornish sardines in garlic butter and lemon

Devon crab meat with avocado and pink grapefruit

Main courses

Whole pan-roast seabass

Moroccan-style lamb tagine braised with apricots and prunes, served with cous cous, mint yoghurt and tortillas

Devon pork sausages with creamy mash, red wine gravy and vegetables


Sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and ice cream

Lemon, almond and polenta cake with clotted cream and raspberry coulis

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