This market stall has become Doncaster's first-ever entry in the Good Food Guide

Occasionally windswept and with the air filled by the shouts of fish traders, Doncaster's indoor market hall seems an unlikely location for a gastronomic hotspot that draws foodies in from far and wide.

Clam & Cork is a former fish stall in Doncaster's indoor market hall
Clam & Cork is a former fish stall in Doncaster's indoor market hall

But seafood stall and prosecco bar Clam & Cork has just been announced as a new entry in the Waitrose-sponsored Good Food Guide 2020 - and it's the first business in Doncaster ever to appear in the prestigious publication.

It's only been open since 2018, when local chef Michael Price leased a traditional wet fish stand in Doncaster Market and launched what proved to be a pioneering dining concept.

It's now a seafood and prosecco bar where dishes are cooked fresh using fish from the market stalls

Price has since left, but former fishmonger Michael Berry and business partner Mags Watson have taken over, and have developed an offering which now has cult status in Doncaster and which has managed to seamlessly combine heritage and tradition with modern food trends.

Mags, whose background is in architecture, came on board when she was consulted on Clam & Cork's expansion plans, but she's ended up at the helm.

The restaurant serves a set menu using fresh Grimsby-caught seafood that its chefs source from the surrounding market stalls. Customers sit on bar stools arranged around the kitchen, and can see their food being prepared in front of them. Prosecco is served alongside their meals.

"I think it's done so well because people are so surprised by the quality of the food - their expectations from a market stall aren't that high. They love the hustle and bustle, they love that they can see the food being prepared. In turn, the chefs enjoy getting the instant feedback from the diners.

A seabass and crab mayo dish

"Our two chefs arrive at 7am and look for specials and seasonal produce from the stalls near us - there are no food miles!

"Jak is self-taught with a fine dining background. He loves to cook with spices - one of his dishes is the South Indian fish curry. He works at an incredible pace and can often be seen chopping at the speed of light. He brings an upbeat vibe.

Sixteen new Yorkshire entries have been included in the Good Food Guide 2020"Dave is a classically trained chef; his signature dishes are sea bass on a bed of roast vegetables, white crab salad and brown crab mayo. He has great attention to detail and enjoys chatting to customers.

"The chefs get a lot of requests for recipes and often the customers come back with feedback on how their attempts have turned out at home."

Clam & Cork shot to national fame when Guardian food critic Jay Rayner travelled from London to review it, and published a glowing write-up.

"We get people from all over Yorkshire - places like Hull and York - who travel to eat here, and we've even had people who say they were considering moving to Doncaster and having Clam & Cork has sealed the deal. Since the Jay Rayner article, we've had more well-to-do people coming in.

"We get a huge range of people, and with the seating arrangements everyone interacts with each other - people from all walks of life will get chatting. It's a really nice atmosphere."

Michael and Mags have overcome initial suspicion from more traditionally-minded traders and have now been embraced by the market community.

"At first, the other traders weren't all that keen on the idea, but our customers often go to look at the fish stalls where their food has come from after they've eaten with us, so we all complement each other. We've had support from Doncaster Council too - they are proud of us and we are always championing each other in the market."

The amazing reception has encouraged Michael and Mags to expand, and they're now looking to increase capacity, introduce a winter menu and start a supper club and even a cookery school.

"The market does have some disadvantages - it can get cold, so we'd like a terrace with heaters, a hot drinks menu, and we want to start serving mulled wines. We're looking at live music in future too.

"We didn't even know we were in the Guide until it was published - they must have done a secret visit. People can get a bit put off by the location, but once they get over that, they can see what a great environment it is. We cook restaurant-quality street food."