Cornwall has swapped mining for dining, with the relatively recent tourism boom resulting in a rich treasury of excellent eateries such as The Longstore, discovers Rosanna Rothery
Blame the Poldark effect for the buzz around Charlestown. Its tall ships and Georgian harbour resulted in it standing in for the old-world streets of Truro in the hit series and fans, seduced by the sweeping on-screen views of rugged landscapes (and brooding heroes), flock to see the spot where Poldark first clapped eyes on Demelza.
Luckily, when these visitors are ready to swap 18th century romance for 21st century convenience, there’s hearty harbourside hospitality waiting in the form of The Longstore.
VISIT for steaks and seafood. This is tourist-friendly food Jim, but not as we know it. Cheeseburgers come with a smoked cheddar beer sauce; barbecued ribs sport a shiny lustre thanks to a tasty chipotle glaze; skinny fries are doused in rosemary salt; and chips are baptised in beef dripping.
Chef director Ben Ambridge initially trained at Fifteen Cornwall before heading off to cook at kitchens in Paris, Australia and New Zealand. Along with chefs William Spurgeon and Matthew Liddicoat, he’s intent on beating expectations, meaning that even if you plump for the crowd-pleasers, your palate will be introduced to exciting flavour combos. The rosemary and anchovy-marinated lamb rump, for instance, is dreamily tender and perfectly complemented by its side of chive and garlic mash.
Dining so close to the shoreline, it’s only natural to hanker after seafood, and the well executed menu of bream, hake and john dory is supplemented by specials which change daily, depending on the fishermen’s haul.
Puddings are also inventive twists on the classics: mango, lime, pineapple and coconut replace the usual summer berries in a fresh and zingy tropical mess.
DON’T VISIT if you want to whisper sweet nothings or discreetly propose to your amour. There’s a buzzing vibe at this industrial-chic joint; a pumping soundtrack, oyster-shell chandeliers and exposed piping and brickwork make it more funky than formal.
WE LIKED being at The Longstore as darkness fell over the harbour: twinkling lights festooned tall ships while raucous folk ditties (Mad Dog Mcrea were performing at the village’s Classic Sail Festival) echoed around ancient walls.
Stirred by thoughts of wreckers and smugglers, an after-dinner tipple on the terrace beckoned: Cut To The Smoke (a spiced smoky rum and coffee over ice), the obvious choice.