Corn­wall of­fers

The Jewish Chronicle - - TRAVEL - BY ANTHEA GER­RIE

RICK STEIN MAY have put Pad­stow on the map, but it has taken more that one celebrity tele­vi­sion chef to trans­form the whole of Corn­wall into a foodie des­ti­na­tion. That the county should have evolved into a diner’s par­adise is hardly sur­pris­ing, given the plethora of fine fresh fish, brac­ing, ap­petite-in­duc­ing sea air and beau­ti­ful coastal scenery which makes this south­west­ern-most tip of Bri­tain our most mag­i­cal hol­i­day-land and worth the long drive which at least is now prac­ti­cally all mo­tor­way from Lon­don, Birm­ing­ham and fur­ther north.

In­deed, one can even fly. And the step­ping-up of the air ser­vice to Newquay may or may not be co­in­ci­den­tal with Jamie Oliver open­ing an out­post near Bri­tain’s surf­ing cap­i­tal of Fif­teen, his restau­rant project created for the ben­e­fit of dis­ad­van­taged young­sters.

Din­ing here is a pretty pricey propo­si­tion at £50 a head with­out wine, which can add an­other £40, but the qual­ity is as­sured. Fif­teen will suit din­ers who like the idea of tast­ing menus of sev­eral small courses, and do not have too ro­man­tic a view of Corn­wall. The Newquay area is still short on the charm which makes Pad­stow — with its long, broad sandy beach fronting the Camel Es­tu­ary, buzzy har­bour and pretty old sea­side houses — that bit spe­cial.

Rick’s place has long ex­panded into Rick’s places, caus­ing lo­cals to drily re-chris­ten the home of his culi­nary em­pire Pad­stein. And with ev­ery tele­vi­sion series, his flag­ship Seafood Restau­rant seems to put up its prices, so that a plate of seabass al­most ceases to be a se­ri­ous propo­si­tion at £28.50 — with­out the chips.

Many of the cognoscenti are plump­ing in­stead for his new­est restau­rant, Rick Stein’s Fish and Chips on the quay, which is truer to his vi­sion in qual­ity and style than his so-called value es­tab­lish­ments, St Petrocs, also a ho­tel, and Stein’s Cafe — both ar­guably serv­ing dishes you could get any­where.

Still in Pad­stow, de­fec­tors from Gor­don Ram­say’s kitchen have set up Num­ber Six, their own pricey al­ter­na­tive to Stein’s Seafood Restau­rant.

But now there is a new con­tender in town, with celeb chef prove­nance which of­fers su­perb cui­sine at very mod­er­ate prices. The restau­rant is Cus­tard, manned by Stein’s for­mer sous-chef, Dan Gedge. While the spa­cious first-floor on the har­bour square could do with linen nap­kins, bet­ter light­ing and a se­ri­ous change of mu­sic from the ‘70s pop churned out by the res­i­dent juke­box, the cook­ing can­not be faulted — do not miss the fresh mack­erel with pota­toes or the sub­lime sticky-tof­fee pud­ding with clot­ted cream. A good choice for brunch or lunch, too — and get there while it is still af­ford­able.

The glo­ri­ously-named Nathan Out­law once cooked in Stein’s Seafood Restau­rant kitchen, but has spent the past sev­eral years gar­ner­ing him­self Miche­lin stars in dif­fer­ent parts of Corn­wall.

Un­for­tu­nately, his first two restau­rants closed 18 months af­ter the glit­ter­ing award was be­stowed, but that was noth­ing to do with Nathan’s cook­ing, and now he is em­ployed at Fowey’s Villa Ma­rina Ho­tel — one of the pret­ti­est wa­ter­front ho­tels in the county — he ex­pects to stay put, and is also hope­ful of land­ing a Miche­lin star for the third time.

Mean­while, the Good Food Guide has de­clared his restau­rant its New­comer of the Year.

Nathan’s food is about gutsy flavours, but no more than three in any dish — think whisky-mar­i­nated fresh salmon served with beet­root risotto fol­lowed by poached pears with ginger­bread ice- cream.

The restau­rant is at­trac­tively mod­ern, and Fowey it­self a de­light­ful lit­tle vil­lage handy for the Eden Project and lovely Lan­hy­drock house and gar­den.

For those who won­der how break­fast can pos­si­bly live up to lunch and dinner on the Corn­wall foodie trail, there are three an­swers.

First, part of Nathan Out­law’s deal is to su­per­vise break­fast at the Villa Ma­rina, which guar­an­tees a treat. Sec­ond, the Wood­lands Coun­try House Ho­tel on the edge of Pad­stow serves per­haps the finest break­fast in Corn­wall — and prob­a­bly in Bri­tain.

Owner-chef Hugo Wool­ley cooks up an in­ven­tive feast ev­ery sin­gle morn­ing; the ta­ble is laden with fresh juices and mar­malade slices and cof­fee crum­bles to nib­ble on while wait­ing for an omelette Arnold Ben­nett or hue-

Pad­stow Har­bour: the cra­dle of foodie fab­u­lous­ness in Corn­wall

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