Local food lover Charlotte Allen (@lottiea) has her finger on Cornwall’s culinary pulse. Here, she recommends her favourite restaurants, cafes and pubs.
“There are so many brilliant food and drink spots in Cornwall, we’re completely spoilt for choice. Here, in no particular order, are just a few of my favourites on the mainland: places my husband and I return to again and again, or frequently recommend to others.
The Hidden Hut (pictured above)
You may have heard about the Hidden Hut’s famous feast nights for which tickets sell out in minutes. Just above the beach at Porthcurnick on the Roseland peninsula, the café run by Simon Stallard and Jemma Glass is open daily during the summer season. Head there for homemade cakes and pastries, ice cream and at lunchtime hearty soups, tagines and sandwiches. Their coffee shop Tatams is just a short walk away in the village of Portscatho – order a beautifully prepared coffee and enjoy the views across Gerrans Bay from the terrace. Binoculars are provided!
Andy Appleton, who was most recently head chef at Fifteen Cornwall, opened his own restaurant this spring at Trevibban Mill near Padstow. Andy uses the best seasonal ingredients he can source from both Cornwall and Italy to create a beautiful menu bursting with flavour. Trevibban Mill is a stunning setting – the restaurant is light and bright, and directly overlooks the vines, and offers the perfect opportunity to combine a meal with a spot of wine or cider tasting.
The Wheel House, Falmouth
Only open four nights a week, and hidden down a narrow passage off Falmouth high street, this is a special spot for Cornish shellfish. The menu is chalked up on boards above the open kitchen. Think oysters (when in season), crab (including the sweeter spider crab), mussels, prawns, the plumpest scallops, and sometimes lobster, all served with baskets of fries and salad. Highly recommended for a date or birthday party, fancy dress hats are optional! Make a reservation early as they get booked up fast.
This is the perfect pit stop for coffee, brunch, or lunch and located at Hawksfield on the Atlantic Highway (A39) near Wadebridge. They have delicious veggie options, and a dal of the day. They also have great cakes to choose from. If you have time, check out the gallery and shops next door, which include The ARC – a fantastic deli / speciality food shop, ideal for foodie gifts, treats and store cupboard essentials.
The team behind this Falmouth pub met at Fifteen Cornwall and as at Fifteen, ingredients play a very important role in the creation of their menus, featuring what’s in season and the best quality produce available. Their meat is sourced from renowned Launceston butcher, Philip Warren, and butchered, cured and smoked on site. Head there for a serious Sunday lunch or for Brisket & Blues on a Monday. Their window seats offer great views across to Flushing, Falmouth Harbour and the Carrick Roads.
Take the coastal road from St Ives and a brightly painted yellow building will eventually appear in front of you. Expect a warm welcome and delicious food – they have a very fairly priced set lunch menu to choose from, as well as a la carte options. There are rooms so if you don’t fancy driving anywhere after a leisurely lunch or supper we can thoroughly recommend booking an overnight stay. Dogs are also welcome to sleep over.
St Tudy Inn is situated in the heart of the pretty inland village of St Tudy, a short distance from the coastal village of Port Isaac, and Bodmin moor. Chef Emily Scott took on the pub just over 18 months ago and has created a warm and welcoming spot for both diners and drinkers. Her menus are ever-evolving and feature simple, seasonal ingredients which are allowed to shine. The wine list is carefully curated with plenty of options by the glass, and look out for some killer cocktails too.
NB: Rooms are set to open in the autumn so those from further afield can soon make a night of it.
Owned by Paul and Emma Ainsworth, Rojano’s is located in the heart of Padstow a short walk from Paul Ainsworth’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Number 6. The restaurant is warm and welcoming, with a menu focusing on Italian and Mediterranean dishes, featuring the best Cornish and British produce, and artisan Italian products. If there are a few of you, do consider starting your meal with a selection of antipasti, before tucking into a bowl of pasta, something from the grill, or one of their excellent pizzas.
There are lots of eating and drinking options at Watergate Bay, but The Beach Hut which is immediately on the beach is open daily, from breakfast through to dinner. The fussiest of eaters will find something they’ll happily order, and sandy dogs and children are also welcome. The brunch menu is a winner, and for those with a sweet tooth, you can’t go wrong with an Extreme hot chocolate. Grab a window seat, or a table on the glass-surrounded deck and watch the waves roll in.
For those going to Port Eliot this year there will be no need to travel to St Ives for a rum and crab fix. However, if you don’t get a chance to sample dishes at the festival but find yourself in the town, do try out the ‘shack burger’ made with soft shell crab. They don’t take bookings at lunchtime, but worth grabbing a spot in the bar, and while away the time sampling their rums and beers on tap. It is an ideal spot to hole up in on a cold day.
I have not yet visited, but Bruce Rennie’s Penzance restaurant is getting fantastic reviews and I have had heard great things about it from friends. The succinct menu focuses on seafood but there are fantastic vegetarian and non-fish options available too, with dishes dependent on what arrives on the day boat.
Sam’s is a great choice if you are looking for somewhere laid back and child-friendly, but also offering good food and a fun atmosphere. Think artisan pizzas, seafood and hearty burgers, to be enjoyed alongside cool music and cocktails. In the summer months, head to Sam’s on the Beach at Polkerris, or Sam’s at the Bay at Carlyon Bay where a stripped back menu will be served from their pop-up tikki hut.
Bude has been a popular spot for surfers for some time with plenty of great beaches to choose from. The Beach at Bude’s bar and restaurant have fabulous views overlooking Summerleaze Beach. Happy hour is particularly popular amongst locals and their passion fruit martini is a hit, served with a small glass of prosecco to balance the sweetness. Order some snacks, and enjoy a few drinks while taking in a spectacular Cornish sunset from their terrace.
As a collaboration between chef Nathan Outlaw and Sharp’s Brewery, you can expect an excellent range of locally-brewed beers to compliment the Mariners’ seasonal menu. Head upstairs to the restaurant for the best views overlooking the Camel Estuary. Steak plays a starring role at lunch and dinner, and take a look at the specials chalked up on the board by the open kitchen before deciding on what to eat.
This is a brilliant spot for watching the world go by, and to enjoy a plate of fresh seafood and a glass of wine. The menu includes dishes inspired by Rick Stein’s travels such as Malaccan black pepper crab or Indonesian seafood curry, as well as simpler dishes such as cod and chips, or pan-fried ray. If you are feeling brave and the sun is shining try to grab a table on the upstairs terrace overlooking Porthleven harbour.
And opening this summer…
Coombeshead Farm is a joint venture between chefs April Bloomfield and Pitt Cue’s Tom Adams opening near Lewannick this summer.
The Carew Arms with the Kingham Plough’s Emily Watkins as consultant chef and Jack Clayton, previously head chef at The Gurnard’s Head is set to open in mid-July, in the village of Antony, a few minutes drive from Port Eliot.”
Charlotte Allen is an account director at an award-winning PR, digital marketing and content-creation company based in Cornwall, specialising in food and drink, tourism and leisure businesses.