With fantastic places to eat (especially if you love fresh fish) and wonderful places to stay, Cornwall is well and truly on the foodie traveller's map
Cornwall is my passion. I have lived here for 40 years, since I moved down from Stockport in Cheshire. It is partly the business that keeps me, but it is also the Atlantic Ocean. North Cornwall has the most fantastic coastline – it’s rugged and dramatic. I just love living here by the sea; I couldn’t wish for a better place.
It is the sea, of course, that makes Cornwall such a special foodie destination. Cornish fish is just so good. All our suppliers are local - we don’t buy from Thailand or India - and Cornish fish goes up to London all the time. We get lobsters, sardines, pilchards, oysters, mussels, even cod, which is not endangered in Cornish waters. In fact, sustainability is not a problem here because they are all small boats in Cornwall, not huge factory ships. We try to buy from day boats that just go out and come back – our menu is totally dependent on what we can get from the market. In fact, sometimes, when it is blowing a storm, the fish is in very short supply.
Obviously I have to recommend The Seafood Restaurant (01841 532700), which we set up in Padstow 34 years ago, to any foodie visiting Cornwall. This is our flagship fish restaurant and is the most expensive of all our restaurants. Dinner for two, with wine, costs around £140. We also have a French and Mediterranean-style bistro, called St Petroc’s (01841 532700), which does classic bistro dishes like Toulouse sausage with lentils and moules marinière, and Rick Stein’s Café (01841 532700), which specialises in new cooking, such as Asian and Thai dishes, and is at the cheaper end of the spectrum – a three-course dinner with a bottle of house wine costs around £60 for two. We’ve even got Stein’s Fish & Chips, where you can get take-away cod and chips for £6.40. Our latest addition is The Cornish Arms, a pub out in St Merryn, a couple of miles from Padstow. We are tenants there and working with St Austell Brewery.
There are lots of other places I love to go to as well. I really like The Gurnard's Head (01736 796 928), a pub hotel in Zennor near St Ives. It is the Good Hotel Guide’s Best Dining Pub for 2009, and is in the middle of nowhere. It’s got a pub feel but serves fantastic modern British food and has a great atmosphere. I would highly recommend it.
Another favourite of mine is the Porthminster Café (01736 795352), also at St Ives. It has an amazing setting, right on the beach, and it specialises in Mediterranean and Asian seafood. You could stay at The Gurnard's Head, which has rooms, and eat at the café.
There’s another excellent pub called Victoria Inn (01736 710309) at Penzance, near St Michael’s Mount. Perranuthnoe Beach is within walking distance, and the pub does simple quality food using local ingredients. It’s got lovely rooms, too.
Closer to us in Padstow is a pub that is now run by our former sous chef and head chef at The Seafood Restaurant, Paul Ripley. It is called the St Kew Inn (01208 841259), in the village of St Kew near Wadebridge, and it is fabulous.
There are several eateries I would recommend on the south coast, too – it is not just north Cornwall where you can eat well! Nathan Outlaw, who also used to work for us, has a restaurant at the Marina Villa Hotel (01726 833315) in Fowey, which is excellent, and The Three Mackerel (01326 311886) at Falmouth Bay, with views of Swanpool Beach, is really worth a trip. Olga Polizzi’s Hotel Tresanton (01326 270055), at St Mawes, also has a very good restaurant.
The Mount Haven Hotel (01736 710249) in Marazion, near Penzance, is also really worth checking out. The restaurant has got a new chef and I haven’t tried him out yet, but I’m sure he will be great. It’s a gorgeous place to stay, too.
But anyone coming to Cornwall in search of good food, fresh fish, and some wonderful places to stay really is spoilt for choice now. It has improved so much over the past 10 years or so, with new places springing up that are really helping to put us on the dedicated foodie’s map.