There’s no denying that food and drink is big business in Cornwall. From real ales to home grown wines, fresh caught fish to freshly baked cake, Cornwall has become one of the UK’s top regions for food and drink. Cornwall is also one of England’s most popular and most visited counties. Full of historic interest, craggy cliffs and dramatic views, no wonder Cornwall attracts the majority of British tourists for summer vacations and with the exception of London beats every other location in Britain for seafood, organic pork and farm fresh foods. With so much fresh produce on its doorstep and a huge amount of inbound visitors it’s little wonder that so many businesses have sprung up offering great places to eat and drink in the county.
Celebrity Dining in Padstow and Newquay
Cornwall has its share of celebrity chefs with both Jamie Oliver and Rick Stein in residence – “Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen” between Padstow and Newquay offers a delicious blend of rustic charm and well presented cuisine. Fifteen provides training for young chefs, some of whom come from a disadvantaged background. The food is fabulous, the beach atmosphere delightful and it is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with an Italian theme in the main. The food at Fifteen promotes healthy and organic eating with local ingredients sourced responsibly.
For a truly fishy experience try out TV chef Rick Stein’s restaurants in Padstow, or his new one at Fistral Beach in Newquay. Here there is a definite oriental flavour to the dishes served to a steadily increasing clientele. The ambience is laid back to the point of being horizontal and the service is fast to accommodate a roaring take-out trade. Rick is famous for his classic Fish and Chips served in a fun but classy cardboard box and also his self-styled authentic Goan curry, Thai noodles and an unbeatable Nasi Goreng with all the taste of Kuala Lumpur.
Back in Padstow, where the Stein Empire began, a number of fantastic restaurants have sprung up to add to the culinary reputation of this quaint, seaside destination. Paul Ainsworth at Number Six brings Michelin starred credibility to the town. Rejanos is a perennial favourite for holidaymakers keen to sample the authentic Italian pizzas and pasta dishes. One of the latest additions to the list of great Padstow restaurants is the trendy and exceedingly popular Burgers & Fish, which as its name implies serves a combo of charcoal grilled gourmet burgers and original meals made from locally caught fish.
The fish dishes offered at Fistral are no less than perfect with the unmissable Catch of the Day. If you are one of those less adventurous types and like to plan your evening, the bad news is that Rick’s does not take reservations – you have to try your luck with the rest of the hoi polloi! Diners are cheerfully invited to wait their turn, rubbing shoulders with the surfers who frequent Newquay Beach, one of the world’s finest surfing venues.
The City Experience in Truro
A trip to Cornwall would not be complete without a visit to Truro, the county’s only city and its administrative centre. Try an outstanding “pub grub” evening at the famous Rising Sun on Mitchell Hill, where the busy atmosphere and considerable talents of two young chefs keep customers returning over and over again. The only downside is that you have to book weeks in advance to get a table at the Sun – it’s well worth the wait though. If you love freshly caught fish and draft beer the Rising Sun serves both in abundance.
There are plenty of small cafés and eateries in Truro city centre where you can enjoy the antics of the local buskers and market traders as well as a lively night life. Other local favourites include the Secret Garden Café and the fishy elegance of the Hooked Restaurant and Bar.
Beside the Sea in St Ives
One of Cornwall’s more recognised seaside towns is St Ives, the old fishing port north of Penzance and west of Cambourne, is now popular with artists who love the unique twisty, cobbled and picturesque streets full of local colour and personality. The face of the town has been slightly altered to make the most of its tourism qualities and is now mostly closed to traffic so you need a healthy pair of legs to see everything. But it’s not just the great art and stunning sea views, which draws visitors to St Ives. This town also has a growing reputation as a foodie favourite in West Cornwall.
Naturally, due to its seaside setting, fish is a prominent menu on most restaurants in the town. Some of the best fish dishes include Seagrass and the Porthminster Beach Café which combine great tastes with magnificent sea views. St Ives also does trendy, most notably in the form of Blas Burgerworks and and the Hub Bar of Kitchen, which are packed full with people every day sampling their gorgeous gourmet burgers.
Don’t leave St Ives without visiting the Lakeside Cabin Café and Farm Shop, as the name implies on the edge of three beautiful lakes. It’s very easy to miss because it is on the outskirts of town. The biggest attraction here is the Cream Tea which is to die for. Freshly baked home-made scones served with great ladles of cream and tangy strawberry jam, accompanied by tea served in a traditional teapot. This Café also serves heavenly cakes, as well as sales and sandwiches for those with more savoury tastes. This little restaurant packs a big punch and is the number 1 reviewed eatery in St Ives.