10 must-visit foodie destinations in Cornwall
Planning a trip to the beautiful south? Make sure you’ve got an itinerary ready with the best foodie hotspots to try on your travels.
Milly Kenny-Ryder, from Weekend Journals, has written a wonderful book, Cornwall (Weekend Journals, £15), which showcases the county’s food highlights. She’s kindly agreed let us publish a sneak preview, so here are 10 of the best places to visit. Our editor, Karen Barnes adores Cornwall and would highly recommend them all.
Regular readers of delicious. magazine will know I’m slightly obsessed with Cornwall. My love of the county stems from the fact that half my family come from there and I spent months of my life in Cornwall as a child, helping out in my grandad’s bakery, Bourdeaux’s, learning how to roll the dough for flour-dusted splits (the Cornish word for rolls – I think they’re called that because they’re baked close together on a tray so they join up as they bake, then have to be split apart) I also learned how to crimp pasties, roll puff pastry and make the best saffron loaf in the world (a traditional Cornish treat).
In those days, Cornwall was all good old-fashioned baking, clotted cream, rugged coastline (think Poldark), slightly run-down villages, ruined tin mines and whiter-than-white fine-sand beaches, the memories of which, for me, are entwined with thoughts of my grandma’s fantastic cooking, all done on the Aga. Her lentil ham hock stew and roast potatoes were legendary.
There weren’t that many places to eat out back in then. Now, everything is different. Cornwall is renowned both for the richness of its produce and for its forward thinking in food. A host of chefs have made their home there, from Rick Stein to Nathan Outlaw to Paul Ainsworth, to Ben Tunnicliffe. There are beachside cafés serving the finest brunches; there are high-end restaurants famed for some of the best cooking in the country… If you haven’t been to Restaurant Nathan Outlaw yet, in Port Isaac, it’s so worth saving up for.
Here are 10 of the best places to visit in Cornwall, according to Milly Kenny-Ryder’s beautiful book Cornwall (Weekend Journals, £15).
1. Coombeshead Farm, Launceston
Just five minutes drive from the Devon-Cornwall border, Coombeshead Farm is ideal as a weekend break from London. Set up by Pitt Cue Co owner Tom Adams and Michelin-starred chef April Bloomfield, it is a foodie destination with beautiful bedrooms as a bonus. Set among 66 acres of meadows and woodland, this guesthouse and working farm has a peaceful atmosphere that encourages you to feel at home.
The Georgian Farmhouse has been designed by Ali Childs, of Studio Alexandra, who has thoughtfully juxtaposed rustic and retro countryside memorabilia with modern features and luxurious amenities. At dinnertime guests can enjoy a friendly supper at the communal dining table, cooked by Tom (or a guest chef) and featuring produce from the farm. Picnics can also be provided for lunchtime jaunts on the scenic Coombeshead land.
2. St Tudy Inn, St Tudy
Emily Scott is an ambitious and optimistic chef, who took over this inn determined to offer locals and visitors great food in a delightful setting. The charming Cornish pub is situated in St Tudy, a quaint village in North Cornwall. After extensive redecoration, the pub feels cosy and welcoming with Nicole Heidaripour prints on the walls and vintage worn furniture.
All Emily’s cheffing experience has been put to good use in the kitchen, where seasonality and local produce reign. The menu is full of comforting classics with a twist. Fish and chips for example is upgraded to the irresistibly tasty monkfish tails in rosemary focaccia crumb with fries and citrus mayo. St Tudy Inn runs regular events, including Pig and Cider nights with a hog roast and regional ales.
3. Camel Valley vineyard, Bodmin
When the sun shines on the Bodmin valleys they compete with the most picturesque fields in the world. The lush and verdant vineyards in this area sometimes appear more similar to the California’s Napa Valley.
The South West is gaining more recognition for its quality wines. Camel Valley is one of Cornwall’s largest established, and largest wine producers with a celebrated sparkling and a collection of reds, whites and rosés. The chalky soil and sunny climate encourage full-flavoured grapes.
This glorious setting is the perfect place to enjoy a tasting flight or just a glass of the flagship fizz 2013 ‘Cornwall’ Brut. Alternatively take a tour of the vineyards, to truly understand the scale and beauty of the place. If you wish to enjoy the location for longer there are two tranquil cottages on site to rent.
4. Restaurant Nathan Outlaw, Port Isaac
A veritable kitchen prodigy, Nathan Outlaw worked under Gary Rhodes and Rick Stein before establishing his own reputation, opening the first two Michelin-star fish restaurant in the world. It is a clean, stylish dining room in Port Isaac with sharp service and immaculate seafood dishes.
Outlaw’s food is blissfully minimalist. He aims ‘to take ingredients away from the plate rather than add’ which allows the Cornish produce, always cooked to perfection, to shine. The four-course set lunch features delights such as gurnard with porthilly sauce, one of Outlaw’s most elegant and brilliant recipes. If you can’t secure a table at the fine dining restaurant, head to Port Isaac’s charming harbour, where Nathan has opened his more relaxed Fish Kitchen, also to Michelin acclaim.
5. Paul Ainsworth at No.6, Padstow
Housed within a historic Georgian Townhouse on a quaint Padstow street, Paul Ainsworth at No. 6 is the chef’s most prestigious restaurant. The playful and creative dishes showcase Cornwall’s finest seasonal ingredients while hinting at his varied culinary influences. The restaurant has a cosy and relaxed feel, with a private dining room for special occasions. At lunchtime a set menu allows guests to sample his signature flavours at a very reasonable price. Paul Ainsworth’s nostalgic ‘Taste of the Fairground’ dessert has received particular recognition and is a favourite on the menu.
For more casual cuisine visit the chef’s bistro Rojano’s in the Square, also in Padstow and just a few minutes walk away.
6. Fifteen Cornwall, Watergate Bay
The Cornish outpost of Jamie Oliver’s successful chef training programme has an optimum position on the beach at Watergate Bay. This popular restaurant nurtures young talent, while offering a range of flavoursome Italian dishes. The menu features Mediterranean favourites and the selection of homemade pastas and seasonal desserts are the highlight.
The bistro style restaurant has a modern interior with plenty of natural light flooding in through the large sea-facing windows, making the most of the spectacular location. The award-winning restaurant operates as a registered charity, with all profits going to the Cornwall Food Foundation.
7. Hidden Kitchen, St Ives
Hidden Kitchen is a supper club and culinary concierge serving varied food to its St Ives clientele. It’s located on the corner of St Andrews Street, in the centre of the historic town but it is easy to miss this understated dining room. Chef James Watson and his wife Georgina worked together in the catering business before opening their first venue. The intimate dining experience in the boutique restaurant makes it feel like a dinner party at a friend’s house.
James regularly plays host to visiting chefs who provide diners with frequently changing, exciting international cuisines. Guest chefs have included Gordon Ramsay student Lee Skeet and Japanese chef Naoko Kashiwagi. After the meal leave a message to show your appreciation on the blackboard tables.
8. Porthminster Café, St Ives
Perfectly located on the seafront at St Ives is the celebrated Porthminster Café. Though the décor is basic, the food excites, and the kitchen makes good use of the fresh, local seafood.
Head Chef Ryan Venning has worked in many top kitchens across Cornwall before settling at Porthminster Café in 2012. A favourite from the menu is the crab ravioli, which is presented in a whole crustacean shell.
The cookbook (Porthminster Beach Cafe, £50) is often sold out but you can buy it online in order to recreate the dishes at home. Their second restaurant, Porthminster Kitchen is located in the heart of the town; it offers a similar cuisine highlighting flavoursome local produce.
9. Origin Coffee Roasters, Harbour Head
Established in 2004 by a group of enthusiasts, Origin specialises in sourcing and roasting exceptional coffee. The company was founded in Cornwall and their roastery in Helston is available for tours, with prior booking.
In 2013 Origin coffee opened a café at Harbour Head in Porthleven, supplying locals with high quality coffee and a cool, contemporary place to enjoy it. On a quiet afternoon in this sleepy seaside town Origin is the perfect place to enjoy the views with one of their speciality blends and a slice of artisan cake. Because of its popularity, Origin has also set up shop in London, with cafés in Shoreditch, Hammersmith and an outpost in The British Library.
10. Potager Garden, Falmouth
Nestling in the enchanting Constantine countryside, Potager Garden is a lovely place to spend time, indulging in a healthy vegetarian feast in the greenhouse or a refreshing drink in the sunshine outside. This daytime café was previously an abandoned plant nursery before it was transformed into a picturesque haven for eating and relaxing. Chef Awen McBride uses organic produce from the gardens and all the bread and ice cream is handmade in house.
Six studios on site are used by resident artists, and frequent Open Studio days allow the public to view the work for free. The gardens are constantly evolving, with a wealth of beautiful flowers and interesting foliage, so it is always a rewarding place to visit.
The full book, Cornwall, is available to buy, for £15, here.
Cornwall was was written by Milly Kenny-Ryder, designed by Simon Lovell and photography is by Gabriel Kenny-Ryder. Find out more about Weekend Journals here.