St Katharine Docks is an unlikely home for a small independent – most of the eateries clustered around the marina are chains – but the watery setting makes sense for this inviting fish restaurant. The space is tucked into one of the arches of Grade II-listed Ivory House: the interior is modern but cosy and softly lit, with a long bar perfect for perching at with a platter of Teignmouth oysters and a glass of something interesting from the Greek-leaning wine list. It’s also a good place for date night, with lots of tables for two. During warmer months there’s terrace seating, where you can channel that Mediterranean holiday vibe.
The open kitchen behind the bar can get overstretched at busy periods, but solicitous staff and snacks, such as a deeply savoury taramasalata of the palest pink served with root vegetables and black sesame seeds, keep everyone happy. Small plates were equally classy-but-moreish: grilled cuttlefish with lentils and spicy chorizo, and an inspired combo of crispy squid with cold smoked rump of beef served with courgette slices and cep oil.
Melusine’s mission statement is sustainably sourced seafood from the British Isles, which means that the menu is in a constant state of flux, but if the whole roast brill (for two) is on the menu, order it: cooked just so, with the wings then battered and served as a posh scampi-style extra, it offers the best of both worlds, especially when matched with triple-cooked chips. Desserts are variations on ice cream, cakes and tarts, plus Neal’s Yard cheeses. Chocolate and Discarded cascara vermouth sorbet made a sophisticated finish to a thoroughly accomplished meal.
The name? A melusine is the fresh-water version of a mermaid.