Think of Cornish food and what springs to mind? A hot pasty perhaps? Or a delicious cream tea? A trip to Cornwall this year might soon make you think again. The county now has a well-deserved reputation as a top destination for foodies. It has a host of excellent restaurants, beach cafés and gastro pubs, with top chefs attracted to the county by seasonal produce and fresh seafood right on its doorstep. Here are just a few suggestions to whet your appetite. As always, book in advance and note that menus change with the seasons – and sometimes the weather too!
The Ferryboat Inn, Helford Passage near Falmouth
On the bank of the picturesque Helford River near Falmouth lies The Ferryboat Inn, a popular gastro pub known for its oyster bar and seafood. The oysters don’t get any fresher – farmed only yards from the Inn at the Wright Brothers’ Duchy oyster farm. There’s also a wide-ranging menu serving light bites, hearty mains and daily specials with an emphasis on locally-sourced seasonal produce and fresh seafood. Try the beer-battered local haddock fillet, chips and mushy peas (£12) or roasted pork chop, savoy cabbage and celeriac mash (£13). Don’t forget to wash it down with a refreshing glass of Cornish cider or ale. A delightful pub in a beautiful riverside location.
The Halsetown Inn, Halsetown near St Ives
On the back road between Penzance and St Ives lies the village of Halsetown, surrounded by rugged fields grazed by hardy ponies. The pub with its unassuming exterior is easy to miss. But step inside and it’s a different story. The ambience is relaxed, and the welcome friendly. The chefs draw on the rich source of fresh local produce to create thoughtful, unpretentious food. If you like seafood, the Southern Thai St Ives crab curry (£22.50) is outstanding, while the Halsetown beefburger with smoked cheddar and chips (£13) is a pub classic. If a roast is more your thing, the Sunday lunches have quite a reputation.
Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Port Isaac
Nathan Outlaw, who trained as a chef under the watchful eye of Rick Stein in nearby Padstow, has become something of a poster boy for Cornish cooking. His passion is local seafood, sustainably caught off the Cornish coast by day boats. Nathan’s unique approach to seafood cookery, based on the utmost respect for ingredients, results in truly inspirational dishes such as cured monkfish, ginger, fennel and lemon. Holding two Michelin stars since 2011, his Port Isaac restaurant is understandably popular. It’s a small, intimate place catering for parties of up to eight (seafood tasting menu £119 per person, matching wine flight £75 per person).
Number Four, Peterville, St Agnes
Honest, simple food using seasonal produce and fresh, local seafood is the order of the day at No.4 Peterville. Located in the charming seaside village of St Agnes, No.4 has grown its reputation as a small, friendly bistro. Try scallops with crispy belly pork and Calvados (£8.50) or tuck into hake, Cornish crab, hash brown and curried butter (£16.25). No.4’s owners, Nola and Adam, pride themselves on their relationships with local suppliers including Barry Garland, a local lobster fisherman and Cornish Crown, brewer of outstanding craft ales.
Ben Tunnicliffe, Sennen Cove
Overlooking the Atlantic on one of Cornwall’s most spectacular beaches, this architect-designed, timber-framed restaurant is an inspiration. Relaxed and family-friendly, its aim is to offer delicious, simple food, great service and good beers and wines. Ben’s track record is impressive: he was one of the co-founders of the Michelin award-winning Abbey in nearby Penzance. Like many Cornish chefs, he’s a champion of local seafood and produce. Try his seabass with braised fennel and caper and herb dressing (£16). Kids (and grown-ups too!) will love his take on the dessert classic – the Knickerbocker Glory (£6), featuring home-made ice-cream. This really is a beachside treat.
The Shore Restaurant, Penzance
Every day, fish is landed at the port of Newlyn in the far south west of Cornwall. So it’s no surprise that Cornwall’s best chefs descend on Newlyn Fish Market for the freshest fish and seafood. One such chef, Bruce Rennie, doesn’t have far to go. His Shore Restaurant is just a few minutes away in Penzance. His passion for fresh ingredients and stunning flavours really shines through in his dishes. For starters, try line-caught mackerel with chana dal, mango, coriander & mint (£7.50). Follow with a fishy main such as local pollack with sprouting broccoli, Jerusalem artichokes, hazelnuts and lemon (£16.50). If you’ve not thought of Penzance as a gastronomic hotspot, a trip to The Shore might just change your view.
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