Beyond the Pasty: Eating Out in Cornwall
Published: Tuesday 15th Apr 2014
Written by: Betheny Ellis
If you thought Cornish food started and ended with the pasty then you’ve been missing out. And while the Cornish pasty is one of the nation’s delights (there’s nothing quite like holding that D-shaped golden pastry in your hands before breaking open the crimped crust and inhaling the savoury steam that rises from the hot mix of tender chunks of beef and vegetables inside) over the past ten years Cornwall has been quietly building a reputation as a destination for foodies. Top chefs have been opening restaurants in the county, and the rest of the UK has been discovering the glory of Cornwall’s home grown produce. Come with us on a culinary tour of Cornwall and find the best places to indulge your tastebuds.
The gastronomic godfather of Cornwall, Rick Stein sparked the foodie boom when he opened his first restaurant in Padstow back in 1975. He had the vision to see past the seasonal fish and chip restaurant market and now his four restaurants are the places to go in Cornwall. Fish literally comes direct from the boat to the kitchen, and the atmosphere is always lively and fun.
Usually associated with Essex and London, visitors can be surprised to see Jamie Oliver’s influence in the south-west, but Fifteen, one of his restaurants for apprentice chefs, is a great success. You’ll find it in Newquay, and the spectacular view out over the bay almost surpasses the food. Over 80% of the food is sourced locally and a relaxed and informal atmosphere pervades throughout, as you’d expect in this haven for surfers.
Matt and Tina may not be household names like the previous two, but they are regarded by the Falmouth locals with the same esteem. You’ll have to travel down some back streets to find their Wheelhouse Restaurant (and book in advance), but the inconvenience is worth it, their shellfish has had all the food critics raving, and their overall TripAdvisor rating is a perfect 5/5.
If you’d prefer something a little more down to earth then head to Sam’s, where the staff wear shorts and flip-flops, and they cater to events from VW vans. They serve unfussy ‘fast-food’ with bold flavours and good local ingredients: giant burgers, stone-cooked pizzas, and a mouth-watering array of seafood are all gratefully received by delighted diners. You can find them in Truro, Foley, or on the beach in Polkerris, just around the corner from St Austell.
Should you find yourself tackling the coastal path near Truro and Portscatho, then make sure you make time for the Hidden Hut on your trek. Simon and Jemma serve a great range of seafood, sandwiches and salads, plus their evening feasts means this beach hut café has attracted a huge following. And they even serve fresh baked pasties and Cornish ice-cream!
Life’s a Beach overlooks the pretty Summerleaze beach in Bude on the North Cornwall coast. Another restaurant that makes full use of the excellent local produce on hand, you’ll find the portions are sizeable, the tastes are delicious, and the staff are expert and friendly.