Family friendly meets fine dining at Michael Caines’ hidden gem on the south Cornwall coast, discovers Melissa Morris
What’s the draw?
Cornwall draws visitors from far and wide for its exceptional restaurants and picture-perfect beaches, but there are few places that combine the two quite as deliciously as The Cove. Azure waves gently lapping Maenporth’s sheltered sandy beach form a stunning backdrop to lunch or dinner at this tucked-away dining destination a stone’s throw from foodie Falmouth.
One of two Cornish restaurants in the Michael Caines Collection (the second being The Harbourside Refuge in Porthleven), The Cove’s beachside location results in a unique blend of Michael’s signature refined style of dining and casual family feasting. Tucking into supper with sand between your toes, a pooch at your feet and kids by your side doesn’t mean having to compromise on quality at this coastal find.
Group exec chef Stuart Shaw steers the talented team at The Cove. Having started his career in London, including stints at the prestigious Boodles and Savoy Grill, he’s worked in some of the UK’s top kitchens such as Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, The Manor House at Castle Combe and Northcote in Lancashire. He joined the Caines restaurant collective in 2022.
Committed to sourcing sustainable local produce, Stuart often spends his spare time embarking on epicurean adventures to fuel his inspiration.
What to order?
Given the view of the briny blue from the dining room, it’s almost impossible to turn down the offer of fresh Cornish seafood. Following an amuse bouche of caramelised cauliflower espuma concealing a pear gel and crested with walnut shavings and chives, we started with sea bream ceviche. Bathed in citrus vinaigrette and coriander oil, the delicate fish was adorned with pillows of soft avocado whip and gems of diced red grapefruit to create a beautifully balanced, refreshing palate cleanser. We also opted for the pan-seared Cornish scallops, which captured the sea-meets-shore vibe of the restaurant thanks to its pairings of earthy caramelised cauliflower puree, sweet compressed apple, baby carrots and light tarragon mustard sauce.
For the mains, we turned inland and opted for the 48-hour confit pork belly (from Cornish butcher Philip Warren) drizzled in five spice jus, served with braised red cabbage and apple compote, wafer-thin curls of crackling and crisped carrot shavings. Our other selection, a chicken breast resting on roasted cauliflower, was framed by a smooth caramelised cauliflower puree and crowned with crisp kale and garlic cress.
Choosing dessert from the tempting line-up was a delicious dilemma. In the end, chocolate championed in both choices. Delivered in a dark chocolate cup, the ‘crunchie’ paired dark chocolate mousse with honeycomb ice cream fringed with miso caramel. Alunga chocolate mousse formed the centrepiece of our second choice and was orbited by white chocolate ice cream and a coffee jelly, and finished with a celestial scattering of golden lychee jelly cubes and soft orbs of lychee gel.
The Cove might be a beachside, family-friendly venue but the food and service are firmly in the fine dining category, so don’t overlook it as a setting for a date night or celebration supper.