Words by Christopher Dyson, photography by Collette Dyson
Following the fantastic response we had from our guide to Devon’s Michelin Star Restaurants we felt it was only fair to give our Cornish neighbours time to shine. So, we set about organising a trip across the border to discover what Michelin gems Cornwall has to offer….
DAY 1 – Driftwood, Portscatho
Our first port of call on our trip to Cornwall was a visit to the Driftwood Hotel. This luxury destination is situated on the south coast, near Portscatho, in an idyllic location overlooking Gerrans Bay. It boasts its own private access to the beach, as well as private gardens to sit in and enjoy the wonderful Cornish surroundings.
Head Chef, Chris Eden, runs the Driftwood Hotel’s fine dining restaurant which gained its Michelin Star in 2012. The dining room is effortlessly elegant, decorated with a chic neutral colour scheme throughout and completed with crisp white tablecloths. Silver service really adds to the overall dining experience – without feeling pretentious – and there are several menus to chose from including an à la carte (3 Courses for £70) and various tasting menus.
We opted for the five-course tasting menu, which was part of our overnight stay package. Dishes included Salt Baked Celeriac with Confit Egg Yolk, Puffed Buckwheat & Truffle; Steamed Cod with Toasted Rye Spatzle, Brassicas, Lemon Puree & Taramasalata, and a “Thunder & Lightning” Tart with Saffron Jelly & Ginger Beer. Each plate of food was beautifully presented and expertly balanced. Portions are what you would expect from a fine dining restaurant, as are the technical elements to each dish. The Driftwood staff were all very knowledgeable and engaged with us throughout the night, making our first Michelin dinner in Cornwall a wonderful experience in an outstanding setting.
DAY 2 – Rojanos in the Square & Paul Ainsworth’s No.6
After a light breakfast, we headed north to Padstow – a town made famous in the culinary world by seafood chef, Rick Stein. However it was not one of Stein’s restaurants we were heading for on this occasion, as we were rather keen to sample Paul Ainsworth’s food. After a lovely morning coffee at Rojanos in the Square (another one of his restaurants) we headed to Paul Ainsworth at No. 6 for lunch.
From the moment we arrived, we were looked after by the excellent front of house team, who somewhat resembled CIA agents with their in-house walkie talkie system. The restaurant itself is a contemporary affair, with a bar upstairs and a private dining room as you enter. The main restaurant area is adorned with colourful artwork and a large picture window provides viewing access to the kitchen. Diners can opt to choose from an affordable three-course lunch menu (£30-34pp) or splash out on the à la carte menu. We opted for the latter, as it included Paul Ainsworth’s famous dessert ‘A Fairground Tale’ but it’s important to note that this can make quite the difference to your final bill…
As expected, the food was absolutely superb. Dishes included, Pig’s Head Fritter with Roast Onion, Cox’s Orange Pippin & Smoked Eel (£15), ‘Raw Sea Bream with Sand Shrimp Slaw & Katsuobushi Mayonnaise’ (£17) and ‘Aged Soy Glazed Duck dish with Clear Peking Tea & ‘Pyo’ Salad (£37). Portions were a little larger than those at Driftwood – but matched in terms of quality – and the presentation was particularly inspired. ‘A Fairground Tale’ was a dessert with a difference, presented on a mini carousel with several little puddings, including a Coconut & Chocolate Souffle to share, a ‘Choc-Ice’ and some tear & share Monkey Bread. This little touch of the theatrical was a fabulous end to an outstanding meal and a must try dessert if you’re visiting No.6.
DAY 3: Outlaws Fish Kitchen
After staying overnight at the lovely St Enodoc Hotel, the next morning we traveled east up the coast to the charming seaside village of Port Isaac. This quintessential Cornish location is home to the TV series Doc Martin and the original boy band The Fishermen’s Friends. It’s worth noting that Port Isaac also boasts one of the UK’s best restaurants: Restaurant Nathan Outlaw. However, on this occasion we were having lunch at Outlaws Fish Kitchen on the harbourside.
Outlaws Fish Kitchen is a bit of a walk from the nearest car park but the stroll is well worth it for the views of the beach and the charming cove beyond. Occupying one of the oldest buildings in the town, the Fish Kitchen is a small and quirky restaurant (and it IS small) that creates unique dishes from the freshest seafood landed from the surrounding waters each day. You can choose between small dishes on the menu (which changes daily) or leave it up to the chef to provide you with several small plates, sides and desserts with ‘Outlaws Fish Kitchen to Share’.
We opted for the latter and some of our dishes included a Smoked Mackerel Dip, Cucumber & Sourdough Toast (£7.50), Hake, Smoked Almonds, Watercress, Cauliflower (£15), and a Blood Orange & Vanilla Cream, Almond Crumble (£7.50). Each plate of food was simple but excellently executed. It’s not hard to see why Nathan Outlaw has forged such an outstanding career for himself when even his simplest dishes are delivered to such a high quality. If you enjoy seafood and unpretentious surroundings, this restaurant should be on your bucket list.
OUR CORNISH TRIP RECAPPED:
During our trip to Cornwall we visited three very different Michelin Starred restaurants. All three provided the high quality cooking and service you would expect from a one star establishment. Driftwood offers an exceptional fine dining experience, No.6 is a fantastic example of a modern day Michelin offering & Outlaws Fish Kitchen is a fantastic homage to fish as an ingredient. Here’s a breakdown of our trip:
- Dinner and overnight stay at Driftwood, Portscatho;
- Lunch at No.6 Padstow (with a coffee in Rojanos in the Square);
- Dinner and overnight stay at St Enodoc Hotel, Rock;
- Lunch at Outlaws Fish Kitchen.