The first chef to earn a Michelin star in Cornwall has returned to the county and taken over The Falmouth Arms at Ladock
What’s the draw?
In 1993, chef Kevin Viner achieved Cornwall’s first ever Michelin star at Pennypots, an accolade he retained at the Blackwater restaurant for seven years. The globetrotting chef left the county to cook for high-profile clients (including the Royal Family and the Prince and Princess of Monaco), so his return to the Duchy in 2019 was met with interest by the region’s foodies.
Taking over The Falmouth Arms between Truro and St Austell, Kevin and wife Jill have lovingly restored the former coaching inn. Its already immense character has been enhanced with their own unique touches. Crooked walls and beamed ceilings have been adorned with intriguing curios and international accolades to create a relaxed and welcoming gourmet experience.
Kevin is well known in the South West and beyond, having clocked up an impressive collection of awards and titles during his career. As well as bringing the first star to Cornwall, he was lauded as one of the top ten chefs in the UK by the AA.
What to order?
The seasonal menu condenses Kevin’s immense repertoire into a handful of beautifully crafted classic dishes.
We started with his acclaimed twice-baked Davidstow Cheddar soufflé which rose spectacularly from a rich, creamy cheese and spring onion sauce, and plump pan-roasted scallops served with the crisp crunch of fresh vegetables and an Asian-inspired chilli ginger dressing.
Taking the chef’s recommendations for mains and wine pairings, a full-bodied Shiraz emboldened the autumnal earthy notes of West Country venison haunch roasted with chestnut and smoked bacon, expertly balanced by a compot of pears in a brandy prune jus. A delightful white Rioja made a great match to Newlyn cod cloaked with a parsley and lemon crust, accompanied by salty samphire spears and a striking saffron beurre blanc.
Kevin’s expertise in desserts, pastries and petits fours ensures his judicious menu delights until the finale. We opted for the rich dark chocolate, hazelnut and Grand Marnier crème lavished with blackberry compote and candied orange and chocolate shards. A second dessert of Cornish Yarg and peach amaretto tart innovatively coupled the creamy lemon notes of the nettle-encased cheese with delicate peach and almond flavours to create a refreshing palate cleanser. If you have room, Kevin’s petits fours with coffee make a delectable encore.
Gone are the days of changing horses in the paddock (now the car park) but if you do want to break your journey with an overnight stay there are four comfortable en-suite rooms above the cosy, firelit lounge and intimate dining rooms. Breakfast is leisurely and continental but, if you can’t hold your horses, ask for a pre-prepared takeaway bag for dawn departures.