Anyone already familiar with this part of Cornwall is well aware of this, but if you’re not, it’s worth saying it doesn’t just have the odd nice place to eat and drink, it’s absolutely teeming with them. And not just any old restaurants, either, but really good ones.
Of course, we should and will start by reminding you of the undoubted virtues of our own Shorecrest Restaurant and Bar, where you’ll find some of the best fine dining in Cornwall (and amazing Cream Teas), as well as the more informal Seaside Café, home of Polzeath’s finest pizzas and a great seaside restaurant. Both of them serve a wide range of beautifully-prepared, seasonal and predominantly local dishes.
We do realise, though, that in area as lovely as this, you’re going to be out and about and keen to explore and sample the full range of what’s available; with luck this round-up proves useful as you survey the options.
Decisions, decisions …
Paul and Emma Ainsworth relaunched The Mariners Pub in May 2019. Its menu is rich with pub classics, done beautifully, and they offer everything from small plates and light bites to full Sunday roasts, across two floors, serving Sharp’s beer and welcoming dogs (on one of the floors only, with a limit of two per table).
The Ainsworth’s are also responsible for Paul Ainsworth At No 6, a Michelin star restaurant in a Georgian townhouse right in the middle of Padstow. They describe their offering as “modern British food with a focus on locally sourced Cornish produce” and it’s as exceptional as the Michelin accolade suggests. (The restaurant can also accommodate six in a private dining area called the Florence Parker room.)
As if to show the variety you’ll find locally, Polzeath’s The Mowhay is informal and open six days of the week from 10-3 and then from 6 until close; except on Sundays, when they close at 3. Again, the accent’s on what’s local, with lots of fresh seafood as well as fresh bread and meat from close by. Burgers take centre stage for their Sunday summer lunchtime barbecues, served with Tequila and beers.
Rock is where you’ll find The Dining Room, a family run, fine dining restaurant whose small, set price menu changes frequently
according to the seasons. Almost everything you’ll eat there is made there: whether it’s the fresh bread and clotted cream butter or the petit fours served with coffee.
Four Boys is also in Rock: a licensed and lively all-day café serving breakfast from 9-11 and lunch between 12 and 4 (closed on Tuesdays, no booking, just turn up).
Polzeath’s Oystercatcher is a contemporary pub and restaurant where sitting and admiring the amazing views would be tempting enough of itself, if it weren’t for the combination of its award-winning beers and a menu featuring “seasonal specials, delicious desserts and firm favourites”.
Much as Padstow might be known for its restaurants, many of them established, it’s also home to smaller, younger, vibrant cafes like Pw1 bar and café where teas and coffee rub shoulders with a wide choice of rum, gin, bubbles and wine.
The Harbour Inn is one of those longer established venues in Padstow. It looks very much like – and for years has been – the epitome of a solid local pub. Its recent refurbishment has kept the sense of somewhere traditional while accentuating the space available. It’s a St Austell Brewery pub, close to the harbour, which welcomes children and dogs and serves pub staples as well as daily specials.
We’ll round off the whistlestop tour with a couple of local heavyweights. Celebrated chef Nathan Outlaw has two restaurants in Port Isaac: Outlaw’s New Road and the Fish Kitchen. Both serve high-quality seafood prepared with award-winning invention and care. And in Padstow, of course, you’ll plenty of Rick Stein, not least the first and original (1975) Seafood Restaurant, described as a ‘Celebration of the Sea’ and an enduring showcase of all the ways with seafood which made Rick Stein so famous in the first place.