Discover the many delights of Cornwall, England, home to some of Rick Stein’s seafood restaurants.
With four restaurants in Padstow (The Seafood Restaurant, St Petroc’s Bistro, Rick Stein’s Cafe and Stein’s Fish & Chips), a pub in St Merryn called The Cornish Arms and Rick Stein’s Fish & Chips in Falmouth, you can’t help but have a Rick Stein-inspired meal when in Cornwall.
The Seafood restaurant is usually packed; for summer reservations you have to book months in advance, but at least there’s now the central, circular, no-reservation Oyster Bar to mop up on-spec customers who can’t get a table.
Stay at yet another of Stein’s Padstow places: St Petroc’s Hotel & Bistro. Here you can have tea in its secluded, elevated garden overlooking the grey roofs of Padstow.
In the cathedral city of Truro head for the local restaurant Saffron.
Saffron runs seasonal menus alongside its regular offerings, including a menu entirely based around asparagus from the end of April to mid-June and one designed around strawberries over the summer. The salad of strawberries, halloumi cheese and pine nuts with saffron toast washed down with a Fruli strawberry beer is enough to tempt me back for another visit.
For first-timers to Cornwall St Ives epitomises the county’s picture-postcard image. Whitewashed fishermans’ cottages line the maze of narrow windy streets, which take you up a hill flanked by a picturesque harbour and a long sandy beach – all overlooked by the somewhat disappointing Tate St Ives.
Garrack hotel is perched on top of a hill, the hotel has breathtaking views over Porthmeor beach. The hotel was once a small gentlemen’s residence but was bought by the Kilby family 40 years ago and converted into a hotel.
Even if you’re not staying at the Garrack, its restaurant is well worth the trek up the hill. The restaurant’s speciality is seafood, sourced locally from the port and market at Newlyn. Rooms are from £65pp on a bed and breakfast basis, and from £86pp including dinner.
If you’re heading off from St Ives for a day out in Penzance and the weather is good, take the 30 minute train ride along the coast (change at St Erth) for fantastic views. From Penzance, it’s a short drive (or taxi ride) to the village of Mousehole, described by Dylan Thomas as “the most beautiful village in England”.
Head to the restaurant at the Old Coastguard Hotel, overlooking the waters of Mount Bay towards to the country’s most southerly point, the Lizard.
Last year, The Observer Food magazine voted it one of the 100 best restaurants with a sea view in the country. The rooms in the hotel and the restaurant have a modern, white, clean and bright feel – not dissimilar to some of the upmarket beachfront restaurants you find in Sydney. The menus change daily and, again, the food is sourced locally with fish straight from the local fish market. The vegetarian option – which that day was grilled figs, goats’ cheese and fine bean salad – was excellent, though Vicky said her baked herring salad was a little dry. Room rates start at £80 a night for a standard double in the low season to £160 for a premium plus double in the high season.
THE HELFORD RIVER
The final stop is Trelowarren. It’s a rugged, hidden away, historic 1,000-acre estate on the Lizard peninsula. In her book Frenchman’s Creek , Daphne du Maurier described it as “the most beautiful place imaginable … shock, surprise and delight, lying like a jewel in the hollow of a hand”.
It’s current owner, Sir Ferrers Vyvyan, has set about converting some of the estate’s old buildings into liveable properties as well as building new eco-friendly cottages. These are all being sold on a timeshare basis but can be used as self-catering holiday homes at other times (see this article for more information). The estate is also home to the award-winning New Yard restaurant, which is housed in a converted carriage house, standing in the 18th century stable yard.
Chef Greg Laskey uses local produce wherever possible and changes the menu with the seasons. Sample dishes include roasted monkfish served with sweet butter cabbage and finished with creamed parsley and fois gras sauce. An example of dessert is hot chocolate fondant with whisky ice-cream.