When assessing Cornwall’s best restaurants, it would be easy to fixate on the differences between London and the Cornish coastline. One a humming metropolis, the other the westernmost region of the country, a series of towns and villages — Fowey, Padstow, Bude — that peter out into a literal land’s end. But the capital’s restaurants have long been in debt to a number of outstanding Cornwall producers, with the likes of Brat, Ikoyi, Smokestak, Kiln and Blacklock rising to national acclaim on the back of world-class meat from Phillip Warren and top-quality seafood from Kernow Sashimi. And, of late, the exchange between the two has been far from one-way traffic, as a number of high-profile London transplants have made the long drive west and set up new lives for themselves in the area. This, then, is perhaps the perfect time to see quite how many exciting restaurants, cafes, pasty slingers and ice cream shops — from the decades-old to the brand new — have taken root in Cornish soil. The following list is far from exhaustive but hopes to give just a flavour of what it is that makes Cornwall so enticing.Read More
Where to Eat in Cornwall
Spanking fresh seafood, weighty pasties, and one of the U.K.’s outright best restaurant experiences
If Point Break was remade in 2020 in the British Isles, Temple, in the surfer’s paradise of Bude, is exactly where Bodhi and co would meet to swap gnarly yarns. There’s no preciousness or posturing here: just very good, slightly California-ified food making the most of the local bounty. Brunch runs from 11-3 and features a few of the usual signifiers (hello again, eggs on sourdough toast) but also plenty of attention-grabbing variations on the theme (hello, beef shin lasagne as a side). Dinner is a £25 set menu and is even more of a showcase for the farmers, fishermen and growers who supply Temple with impeccable produce year-round.
2. Lola’s Delivery Service
Not, strictly speaking, a restaurant and not, strictly speaking, in Boscastle. Lola’s is instead a meal delivery service operated by former P Franco and Clove Club chef Tim Spedding and his partner Louise Rødkjær, available across a large swathe of north Cornwall. The weekly-changing menu is a showcase for a style of cooking that falls somewhere between “restaurant” and “home” modes, but which is no less delicious for that: snacks and salads are bright, uplifting affairs; main courses and puddings pack a little more substance but never stray into stodginess. One of the area’s quirkiest (and most delightfully presented) dining experiences.
3. The Seafood Restaurant
Rick Stein rules Padstow like a benevolent mafioso. This is his town, so much so that his smiling avuncular likeness can at times feel inescapable. The Seafood Restaurant is probably the best advertisement in the area for submitting to a seafood splurge: there’s scarcely a big name — Porthilly oysters, fruits de mer platter, whole dover sole, lobster thermidor — that doesn’t feature at some point on the menu, so it’s eminently sensible to just sit back and let Stein and co play the hits. But there are also more globally inspired dishes — lobster risotto, Indonesian seafood curry, Singapore chilli crab — for those looking to be a little more adventurous with their crustacea, suggesting that even after decades of dominance Stein is still finding ways to keep things interesting.
4. S. Jelbert's
Penzance TR18 5PZ, UK
One flavour — the uninitiated would reach for “vanilla,” but really it’s just the quintessence of dairy — served in either a cup or a cone with either a flake or dollop of clotted cream. And that’s it. S. Jelbert proprietor Jim Glover has resisted the temptation to sell out, expand, or introduce anything that would distract from the sheer quality of his one perfect product, and whilst his shop is less of a hidden gem than it used to be, there is still something quietly uncanny about it, almost like it has been transported from a Britain where things had to be done this way, because there simply wasn’t an alternative. Of late, Londoners have been lucky enough to enjoy the fruits of other nations’ love of frozen things, from the supremely chewy ema’a served at Diwan Damas on the Edgware Road to the neoclassicist gelato served at Soho’s Gelupo. This is one of the few surviving bastions of a genuinely British ice-cream-making tradition, and like the Lost Gardens of Heligan further up the coast, it’s both a tourist attraction and a monument to a forgotten world.
5. Harbour Head
Helston TR13 9JY, UK
The best place for coffee in the area also comes with one of its best views, at local hero Origin’s Porthleven cafe that looks out on to its gorgeous trinket of a harbour. The Cornish roaster has since made a serious impact on London’s coffee scene, but home is where the heart is, and Harbour Head’s people and place watching is second to none.
6. The Hidden Hut
Truro TR2 5EW, UK
A rare exception to the normally reliable rule that good food and heartbreaking views don’t mix, this out-of-the-way café overlooks one of the UK’s most beautiful expanses of beach. And yet locals and tourists brave the borderline-impassable hill down — pro tip: walk, don’t drive — as much for the Hut itself as the sea and sand. A buzzy 2018 cookbook gives a pretty good indication of what’s on offer: grilled fish and picked crab in the summer, hearty soups and stews when things start to cool off. Leave room for some enjoyably unreconstructed baked goods, especially if returning to a car parked on a double-digit incline.
After completing a trilogy of beautifully designed, locally beloved North London neighbourhood restaurants, David Gingell and Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim took something of a left turn in opening their next venture, Fitzroy, some 250 miles west. All of their signature flourishes — natural wines, small plates, gorgeous interiors — are present and correct here, but the setting, a former bank, has a high-ceilinged grandeur that compliments the more understated things happening in the glass and on the plate, and there’s something undeniably special in eating spanking-fresh seafood mere metres from the water. A more casual spinoff, North Street Kitchen, is open seasonally in an abandoned boathouse overlooking Fowey’s picturesque estuary; if it’s on the menu, the fried fish sandwich is a must-order. Both are closing for the season in late September, but keep an eye on roving pop-ups and wait patiently for spring 2021.
8. Appleton's Bar & Restaurant
After a long stint as the head chef of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall, Andy Appleton opened his first namesake restaurant near Padstow in 2016. In 2019, he relocated to the heart of Fowey, bringing his Italian-inspired approach to bear on the best of what the area had to offer. Fresh pastas have earned rave reviews, as has a drinks list that leans heavily on Amari, spritzes and 10 different varieties of Negroni. An on-site deli is well worth a look for anyone looking to whip up an Italian feast a casa.
Fowey PL23 1HZ, UK
Sister restaurants that lend a breeziness to Spanish and Italian cooking respectively, Pintxo and Bufala are yet more evidence that Fowey has as good a claim as anywhere to the title of Cornwall’s new gourmet capital. Neither are attempting to reinvent the wheel, but the raw ingredients — buffalo mozzarella, Roman-style pizza bases, a whole host of Spanish embutidos — are top notch, and menus are written with a real flair for enticing combinations. It is a hardy soul who can resist the allure of a spider crab and saffron croquette, or a pot of pesto “for crust dipping.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, given their general modishness, both places are no reservations, but this makes them both an excellent spot for a pre-dinner snack en route to one of Fowey’s heavier hitters, and a back-pocket wildcard for when those heavier hitters shut up shop for the season.
10. Sarah's Pasty Shop
This isn’t the place to find the best Cornish pasty in Cornwall, because that place doesn’t exist. But it is certainly somewhere to find a very good Cornish pasty, right up there in the pantheon alongside Ann’s and the increasingly ubiquitous Philps’. The filling is generous and not without its own undeniable charms, but the real USP here is the pastry, so pliable and rich that even the crimped part of the crust — according to foundational myth, good only for use as a handle — is a treat in its own right. Jaded pasty enthusiasts will also find a few new spins on the familiar formula to arouse their curiosity here, not least the striking mackerel, horseradish and pea number which is only available on Fridays.
11. Coombeshead Farm
Launceston PL15 7QQ, UK
The agrarian idyll that arguably kickstarted the London to Cornwall exodus is not accepting reservations for its acclaimed restaurant. But city-dwellers fixated on sampling the bounty tended to by Tom Adams and his team still have a couple of options available to them. One is to book a click-and-collect selection of some of the farm’s exceptional produce (including a pickup-only veg box); the other — for those looking for a truly special long weekend — is to book out the entire venue as a private hire. Such is Coombeshead’s importance in the history of modern Cornish hospitality that it remains a lock on this list even in its current COVID-affected form.
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